The Family Life Cycle

I’ve heard and read and studied about a product life cycle in marketing and retail sales classes. But I hadn’t heard a term referred to as family life cycle.

According to my reading, the family life cycle entails the different life phases that an individual undergoes as part of a family unit. The various phases range from growing up and moving out of the childhood home, up to becoming a couple, and raising children in a new family unit, then career development and retirement, and finally, old age. All of these life phases are always accompanied by various emotional and psychological landmarks and growth opportunities.

It is during these growth opportunities and challenges that individuals may experience conflict or are unable to cope appropriately. Therefore there’s a line of counseling called contextual systemic therapy that works out the balance in the family relationship in an attempt to smooth out the conflict and re-establish the correct give and take balance and coping mechanisms.

We’ve all experienced stress at various life stages, but have you ever felt like you were unable to cope with an especially stressful life phase change? I know I have, on several occasions. Moving, family members and loved ones being far away, different schools, work changes, company changes, economic stresses, etc.

Have you ever reached out for counseling from someone outside of your family? Sometimes an objective friend can act as ombudsman or as a neutral third party observer, and can help get people back in balance by noticing particular patterns that are causing some deterioration in relationships or communications.

I was really fascinated by the whole concept of the family life cycle and hope to read more on it going forward.


2 responses to “The Family Life Cycle

  1. I haven’t researched this topic at all, but I have found myself thinking about it A LOT. I’m interested in knowing more about what you’ve read or where you’ve read.

    For instance, one question I have about what you wrote specifically is: is there a set order of progression in this cycle or do they account for differences there? In other words, do they explore being a couple then having children then career development as one causing the next or do they write more generally on how they can effect one another if they occur in different order than that?

    And stressors are a HUGE factor that can impact that order, as you noted as well. I can’t help but think all is cyclical, but the door of slight variance is opened and closed by stressors as well.

    You can respond to me here or @JessB329 on Twitter. Nice post! 🙂

    • I would suggest you might want to take a look at and to find out what literature is available on this topic. I actually started on this area when I was researching the psychological therapy concept, and it led me to family life cycles. I start much of my research looking up the wikipedia entry and then keep clicking through to all these alternative trails that emerge from there. The possibilities are almost infinite from there, you never know what you’ll run into, with this sort of brainstorming and trail-following research.

      Personally, I can say that many of the people I interact with (and myself included), usually see one life phase develop organically into the next/another, such as what you said about being a couple > having children/career development > etc… Everything is very much cyclical in life, because the phases carry with them their own emotional/intellectual cycles of phase discovery, recognition/acceptance, adaptation, management, and closure or moving on to the next phase.

      I don’t know if this is what you were looking for but I hope it helps! Best of luck with your research. Thanks so much for dropping by! :o)

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