Explain the important current relationships that involve power and dependency? Are you in a position of power or dependency in these relationships? Do you prefer to engage in sociable interaction with others who are roughly similar to you in terms of overall status, or with those who are higher or lower?
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All lives involve a series of relationships that are of equal, greater or lesser stature. Our very first relationship is with our parents, who are clearly authority figures on whom we depend not only for survival, but for wisdom as well. This is the ultimate dependency relationship, but also one that should be emotionally and intellectually stimulating. In a healthy family, these dependency relationships are the most positive we will likely encounter. From the parents' perspective, the relationship is obviously the opposite: the adults are the authority figures who enjoy a greater social status in the relationship than the children, who are, after all, known as "dependents."
Relationships among siblings are dependent upon the chronological order in which one enters the world. Older siblings can be important figures in the development of a child's character, providing guidance and emotional support. By the same token, older brothers and sisters can represent repressive figures who use both physical and mental means of controlling the relationship. It is, obviously, always preferable when such relationships reflect genuine caring and love, but the realities of relationships among brothers can be considerably less constructive than is ideally the case.
Outside of the home, relationships with friends and coworkers represent the most equitable distribution of "power" between or among individuals. While particularly strong-willed and, in the case of boys, physically imposing individuals tend to gravitate to the head of the pack, friendships generally involve individuals of equal stature relating on a common level. In the workplace, the situation becomes more complicated. Team leaders and managers function on a higher plane with regard to relationships, and there is clearly, and intentionally, a hierarchy that defines relationships. Employers and managers enjoy a position of greater stature, and employees are expected to approach these individuals from a position of professional subordination.
Personal relationships between men and women, or between men and men or women and women that involve romantic attachments can also be complicated. History placed men in the more preferential position, with women traditionally subordinated to the will of their husbands, boyfriends, etc. With the growth of women's rights and the gradual equalizing of the grounds upon which each gender functions, there has been a "leveling of the playing fields," so to speak. There is still a ways to go with respect equal work for equal pay, and women continue to be physically and emotionally subordinated and abused in much of the world, but in socially and technologically-advanced nations like the United States the position of women in society has evolved greatly, and marriages have reflected greater responsibilities shifting from male to female. Dependency in relationships, then, has transformed to reflect the greater economic power of women.
Whether one prefers to engage socially with individuals of equal stature is a personal choice. Most enduring relationships involve individuals of equal stature, with the notable exception of mentor-mentee relationships, in which lifelong bonds are built upon the uneven levels between the two individuals. Many of us have greatly enjoyed relationships of mutual respect between ourselves and certain professors or employers. There is never any question, however, which of the two exists on a slightly higher plane.
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