Stages of the Family Life Cycle
In 1973, Jay Haley introduced the concept of the Family Life Cycle into the field of family therapy. He focused on the developments during the transition between stages. In this way, he identified the problems some families have in redefining the hierarchy of the family unit.
Forming a healthy relationship, preparing for parenthood, and fitting in to their new family system.
2. Childbearing couples (the eldest infant is less than 30 months old):
Creating a healthy environment for the birth and growth of a child, restructuring their relationship to keep it healthy.
3. Families with preschool children (eldest 2 ˝ to 6 years old):
Helping develop the child’s interests and talents, responding to their needs, and adapting to parental stress and a lack of privacy.
4. Families with pre-teens (eldest 6 to 13 years old):
Fostering a healthy educational environment, fitting in with other families.
5. Families with teens (eldest 13 to 20 years old):
Discovering new interests and needs, establishing freedom and responsibility for their teen.
6. Families with young adults (with the eldest gone to the youngest getting ready to leave):
Developing a nurturing home to return to, encouraging young adults’ first steps into their own lives.
7. Post-parenting couples:
Building bonds among family generations, establishing a new marriage relationship.
8. Aging couples (retirement and beyond):
Dealing with loss, leaving the family home, adjusting to aging and adapting to retirement.
We tend to internalize how society talks about families, until this discourse becomes our “rules” for how the family should be. As these “rules” become contradictory to a given situation or environment during a transition, conflict festers. It helps to identify where your ideas of what “should be” have come from, to judge just how realistic they are. Only by recognizing the necessary changes that must be made to the internalized “rules” can a family achieve a smooth transition.
A Family Therapist may offer insight as to where changes should be considered as well as the means by which to ensure the development of a healthier dialogue of discovery.