Jesminder “Jess” Kaur Bhamra presents today with difficulties she is having at home. She comes from a very traditional and strict Indian family where gender roles are clearly defined. Women are expected to learn to cook and care for their husbands, who are, of course, expected to be the sole breadwinners. She states that she loves and respects her parents as well as their traditions but feels such traditions are antiquated. She has decided to seek counseling because of her recent encounter with her mother. Jess does not wish to take on the traditional role of young Indian women, who marry young and desire a husband.
She is very assertive and wants to break out of the mold, being something different than what is expected. I evaluate this as a typical adolescent issue, a growing pain, if you will that is being trivialized by her parents. Jess is at a crossroads. It is normal to desire to please one’s parents and Jess needs to evaluate her motives for doing what she wants for herself and what her parents’ desires. Client Motivation Jess sees herself as a female version of her hero, David Beckham, competing in soccer rather than cooking for an acceptable Indian man as tradition dictates.
She has posters of him plastered all over her bedroom. She watches him so intensely on television that she is not even always aware that her parents are calling her. She plays every chance she gets with her male counterparts in the park. She even keeps up a rouse of a summer job to secretly participate on an all girl team. She is also made aware by her teammates and coach that there is a real possibility that her dream of playing professionally may be realized Client Resources (strengths) Jess exercises and practices frequently. Her coach and peers encourage her and let her know how good of a player she is.
The guys that she plays with at the park come to her games to cheer her on. Jess is highly disciplined. She takes her training seriously and has a very loving and supporting family. She states that her mother always wants the best for she and her sister and that she is always concerned with their well-being. Jess can talk to her father about anything that is going on in her life and most of the time, he is very understanding. She and her sister have a close bond. Her relationship with her sister, Pinky, is one of the things that enables her to continue on.
Pinky covers for Jess so that she can continue to play soccer. She encourages her to do her best and not to worry about other people’s thoughts about what she is doing. Jess also mentions Jules, a teammate who is going through a similar situation with her own family and has been able to relate to her struggles. They are a tower of strength to each other. In addition to sheer determination, these are things that keep Jess focused on her goals. Interpersonal functioning Jess’s peers share her interests. She has a few peers that are ‘boy crazy’ but she does not really hang out with them.
Jess has slowly begun to detach herself from them because they cannot understand why she would rather get sweaty and dirty than go shopping with them. She also has an understanding coach, Joe. Joe has helped her break out of her shell by allowing her to accept herself. She was very afraid to play in short pans because of the burns she encountered as a child. Joe showed her his scar and she is no longer afraid to play in short pants. This new level of acceptance has propelled her into a greater realm of possibilities. No one on her team comments about it.
One of her peers from the park made a comment but she was very resilient to it and it has not been an issue since. She has made a healthy adjustment to her circumstances and not let a deformity discourage or predict her future. Intrapersonal function According to Jess, going against her mother’s wishes is like rejecting her own culture. The reason that she feels this way is because she believes that she has nothing in common with the majority of her peers, especially those within her culture. Her priorities clash with her mother’s expectations.
Jess believes her mother wants her to be more feminine like her sister and that her mother values matrimony over independence. Even though she has now surrounded herself with people that are interested in the same things she is, she can not help but feel alone. As much as her friends want to be there for her they do not understand why she can not just tell her mother what she really wants to do and her peers have a hard time letting her deal with the situation. They do not understand her traditions. Even though her sister has always been there for her, Pinky is more traditional.
Jess is the only female in her immediate cultural surroundings that has an unusual aspiration and she is trying to assess her feelings. She needs to determine if she is doing the right thing. Without any female role models in her culture to model, it is an even more difficult feat. As much as she wants to follow her dreams and make soccer her profession, she is also feeling torn inside. Ethic/Culture/Gender considerations In Indian culture one of the most important things there is, is marriage and family. It is unthinkable for a daughter to go against her parents’ wishes and most importantly playing such a masculine sport like soccer.
According to Jess girls are supposed to put a great emphasis on learning how to be a good homemaker and making their husband happy and then they can think about such things as education and other interests they may have. In Indian society an arranged marriage is seen as an act of love. Since marriage in their culture is one of the most important decisions a person will ever make and because divorce is not accepted among most Indians, it is important that the marriage choice is carefully thought out and planned.
The family, usually the parents, look for certain traits in a marriage partner. Some desirable traits looked for in both male and female are things like matching levels of education, matching cultures, close parental cities and matching religions. There are however times when a “love match” happens as it was in the case of Pinky and her fiance. A love match is much like an American marriage, where the two fall in love. However, in Jess’s case her interest in soccer was not going to be accepted that easily. Her situation went beyond what any elder in her family would ever understand.
For them, seeing Jess run around in a pair of shorts playing a game that is considered a “men” sport would bring much disgrace to their whole family. Her culture does not accept any form of homosexuality. She almost destroyed her sister’s chances of getting married because the fiance’s family thought they saw her kissing a girl. She and Jules were joking around on a bus stop and it was misinterpreted by Pinky’s future in-laws. It brought temporary shame to her family. Her culture is very keen on respecting parents and obeying their wishes.
This is why the secret that she keeps is causing her so much turmoil. Her family is deeply religious and she has to participate in various rituals that interfere with her ability to play soccer. Developmental considerations If Jess were to be a “regular” girl growing up in the United States the problem that she is going through might not be such a big deal with any other family. There are some families who would love to have a well-rounded teen-ager who is staying out of trouble and has not given into peer pressure to follow any trends.
For a 17 year-old Jess is very mature and is able to analyze the consequences that her actions might bring. She is mature enough to understand that she is caught between what she wants and what her parents want for her and was able to seek out the help that she needs in order to address her problem. Inferences and Judgments Jess is a wonderful young lady. She is very grounded and disciplined. She has great friends. One of the young men she pals around with even offered to marry her so that she can pursue her dream. She was offered a scholarship to play soccer and she does not know how to inform her parents about it.
Given her history and her internal conflict, I am confident that Jess will make the right decision and right choices for her family and her future. Summary Practitioner’s impressions, including the initial problem targeted for treatment When I first met with Jess I believed her to be a well-rounded person that really knew what she wanted. She has a lot of things going in her favor such as having a strong support system that she can count on and having a strong sense of self when it comes to what she wants out of life.
She is lacking the confidence and courage to confront her mother and let her know what she wants out of life. Identification of goals Some of the goals we have set during our sessions involve ways of solving her dilemma with her family. Her father has become aware of her situation and she was allowed to play in the tournament. She has made immense progress by allowing one of her parents to become her ally. She needs to build and strengthen her relationship with her mother and allow her mother to come to terms with her decisions. She also needs to stand firm on her beliefs.
Jess must learn to combine her interests and goals for the future with her cultural influence. She also needs to learn to be more constructive in her way of handling others’ opinions of her culture. She had become very upset on the field when a young lady called her a Paki. She began fighting with her. She and Joe have developed feelings for each other. She must work getting her parents to accept this because he is not of her culture. Overall, she has made tremendous progress and at this point, she seems sufficient enough to execute these goals without further intervention.
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