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Nine stages of the family life cycle

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In every person there is a similarity, which is everyone at some time in their life is exposed to the family life cycle. This essay will focus on the nine stage version on the family life cycle. People all grow, adapt, and find their own niche in society and this aspect of living would be impossible without the family life cycle. Starting with two people and covering all the bases of love, compromises, marriage, child bearing, child raising, teen rebellion, letting go of child, and old age is what will be the context of this essay.

The family life cycle is based around two solitary individuals that for some reason meet and have a connection. People will often experience a few common characteristics when they believe themselves to be in love and this is defined as limerance. Limerance is an emotional state one feels towards another that is often described as romantic love and is said to be heavenly. People are said at this stage to feel desires emotionally and physically for their partner. First to develop in romantic love is passion whereby there is a strong sexual attraction to a mate. Idealization will often occur when in limerance and the object of love will be placed on a pedestal. This is when negative and neutral traits can sometimes be overlooked or even seem impressing.

The second stage in the family life cycle consists of comprises that the couple will make for each other. This is often the breaking up stage of many couples that fail to comprise with each other. In this stage a desire for exclusivity is usually established. The psychological needs of the two involved in the relationship are set at this point and people have usually already found some negativity in their mate. Physical requirements must also be made of the two venturing into a more intense friendship. The standards are at this point set.

Marriage is an acknowledged sexual and economic union between two or more people. People usually make legal agreements to honour each other for life at this phase. A healthy relationship will not change with the title marriage and will continue to evolve as it was before the consensual agreement. People prepare for parenthood, or typically aim to do so at this stage. They join together as the foundation of a family and assign duties to each other such as housecleaning, cooking, bills, dog walking, etc. Usually people live together when married, which is common for the majority of societies. Marriage is frequently being overlooked in our Western society and common law union is becoming more frequent. Common law union is established after people have been living together for a set period of time and do not want the legal marriage certificate.

Childbearing is the next step in the family life cycle. A healthy environment is crucial to the growth of a child and is usually sustained prior to the pregnancy or during the pregnancy. Couples typically restructure their lives to allow for a complete change in their ordinary lifestyles. No more late nights partying, dinners out at nice restaurants, sleeping 8-10hours a night when the babies come along. New parents are usually very protective of their creation and feel a new sense of responsibility to care and love their babies. Of course there are people that drop babies off in dumpsters and do horrible inhumane things to their children, but that is a completely different essay. This is the stage when a new found pride and love is experienced by the couple when they reproduce or adopt.

Child-raising is said to be the most difficult task one can take on in their life and is also the next stage in the cycle. Many decisions are to be made that drastically affect the couple and their child at this point in the cycle. Whether one parent will stay home and be a full time houseparent or the child will be put into daycare or another person will watch the child, are the decisions that have to be made by the parents. A healthy environment must be maintained for the child to learn and develop. The child’s interests and talents are established when they are only 2andahalf to 6 years old. Responding to the child’s needs is critical for parents. Adapting is the hardest part of this stage and it is when many parents feel an immense amount of stress and lack of personal time. When the child becomes a pre-teen (6-13 years old) the parents must foster a healthy educational environment. Some independency is usually given to the child, which is hard for the parents to do and also hard on the child.

A child 13-20 years old is discovering their own personal interests and needs. This is hard for the parent to cope with especially when their teen’s views and morals may conflict with their own values. Freedom can either be slowly given to the teen at this stage by the parents or taken by the teen when they feel their parents are not giving them enough freedom. A responsibility for them self must be learned by the teen before they can venture into the world without mommy and daddy. At this stage the teen is being socialized to function in society on their own. Often teenagers will get their first jobs and learn how much things cost like shoes, clothes and other luxuries they before this time had had their parents pay for.

Families with young adults are preparing to send their offspring off to live on their own. Often this is when young adults live in semi-independence. They will be supported by their parents and family in some aspects but possibly live on their own or on campus or even just rarely go home. Their family may give them some money and help with the transition of becoming totally independent. At this stage a nurturing home is set up for the young adult to return home to occasionally.

Post-parenting couples are the next stage. These people must relearn to live alone together and often is not as exciting as it was the first time when they were much younger and did not have kids. A new marriage relationship is established while keeping in touch with their young adults. In this stage the children of the post-parenting couples are already beginning to experience limerance and relationships of their own.

The final stage is aging couples and includes retirement and beyond. The adapting in this stage is one that the parents have to deal with along with their children. No longer working the now retired couple has to find things to do and worry more about health. Making final wills is a difficult task many people do as they age. There may be the inevitable loss of their spouse at this stage. This can devastate most people and is also often when the remaining parent will join one of their children’s families forming an extended family.

The family life cycle is often not perfect and the way I have outlined it is not the way most people life their lives but is the “standard” way of living most people can agree to. It is a process which must continue to progress and change with the times of the world but not cut out reproducing, in order to sustain human life. The family life cycle then is a guide on to how to live and what to expect, void of all problems and imperfections encountered in life.

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