A family, a story

Student perspectives on how family dynamics impact their life, and who they are.


Photo by Kyra Keena

Although families can come in many shapes and many sizes, Adam Monnette, senior, says his family dynamic has shaped him into the person he is today.

No matter the dynamic, family is an aspect of one’s life that shapes their story. According to ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, home life and family dynamics have one of the largest effects the type of person teenagers become in their life, and are one of the biggest aspects of a persons identity, and their story. In LZ, some dynamics may look entirely different than others, but each comes with a perspective of how a person has been impacted, what they have learned, and who they will be in their life.


One family, Two names

When it comes to how family dynamics impact one’s life, the people you see everyday are all going through something different, but it is an important aspect in a person’s story and who they are. Some may be going through divorce or adoption, or like Sienna Maklhouf, freshman, one could have a separate experience such as having a parent with a different last name.

Thespruce.com says recent studies show that 20% of women keep their maiden name for different reasons, but 60-80% take their husband’s last name. Maklhouf grew up with a mom who obtained her Doctorate in psychology prior to marrying Maklouf’s father, and decided to keep her maiden name for professional reasons. According to Maklhouf, this impacted her life in ways that inspire her.

 “It was weird at first that she has a different last name, especially when I was in elementary school, before I knew what it really meant to keep your maiden name,” Maklhouf said. “I didn’t actually know she had a different last name until she had to sign a form for school.” 

But Maklhouf says her mom’s decision now inspires her everyday. 

“She taught me how to be independent, confident, how to deal with conflict, and above all she taught me the importance of being kind. I look up to her a lot,” Maklhouf said.


One family, Two sides

While some family stories are inspiring, others are less comfortable to discuss.  One of those topics is divorce. According to apa.org, 40-50% of married couples in America are divorced. While not everyone can understand what it is like to have their parents split up, Jora Pugliese, senior, describes the ways it has impacted her life, her family, and her as a person.

“My parents got divorced when I was in fourth grade, and I go back and forth between houses every weekend,” Pugliese said. “[The back-and-forth] was definitely stressful as a twelve year old in middle school, because my parents tried to get me to choose sides.” 

Pugliese says while this was difficult, she has gained more insight on the person she is. 

“Of course divorce isn’t always avoidable, but it’s taught me how to manage who comes into my life, and it has taught me what to look for in a person as well.”


One home, Two families

Although less common, yet another family story and perspective is adoption. Archive.pov.org says that around 135,000 children are adopted in the US each year. Adam Monnette, senior, says the journey with his adoptive family has been a difficult but worthwhile experience.

“For the first 13 years of my life, my sister and I lived with my grandma, but it was getting harder for my grandma to do basic tasks, which is when we met my now adoptive Mom,” Monnete said.“I absolutely love [my adoptive parents], and there’s no doubt about it! It was a hard transition going into a completely different dynamic than I was in before, but overall taught me a lot of life skills I know now are very important that I was able to learn over the past four years.”


One family, Someone’s story

While some people may experience adoption, divorce, a separate last name, or something entirely different, all family dynamics are a centerpiece in one’s life.

Agreeing with Monnette and Maklhouf, Pugliese said, “Family isn’t something that’s always perfect, but I love my family very much, and they have made me who I am today.”