The family and its stages of the life cycle: which one are you in?

All families during their growth they go through different stages. As they move along this road, changes occur that create situations of crisis and tension that mobilize all members towards the development of resources, not only individually, but jointly. This process is known as life cycle, conformed by diverse moments through which all the members of the family go through, who are going to be sharing a common history.

Throughout all the life cycle of the family, We will have to continue learning to be better people, children, brothers, spouses, parents and grandparents. The future of this world depends in part on our commitment, effort, sacrifice and responsibility.


The family and its changes over time

The family, base and foundation of our society, also suffers these changes. It should not be considered as an inflexible and rigid unit, but rather as a unitary, dynamic, changing entity in constant adaptation. The spouses should grow in intimacy by offering each other greater degrees of emotional and social conjunction.

In their role as parents and during the growth of the family, they will try to provide the children with the basic needs of support, support and guidance for their personal and social development, while the children should learn to share, trust, negotiate, Respect and develop social skills among their peers. In this way the person, the marriage and the family will progress in the harmonic growth source of happiness.


Just as the human being in his growth goes through several stages, the family also passes, from its preparation to the disappearance, by several phases. It is important to highlight the need to effectively cover each of the challenges proposed for each stage. This way we will avoid the problems derived from its non-compliance and we will reduce the conflicts that usually occur when changing stages. It is known that the vulnerability to face difficulties in the family relationship is greater in the changes of stage, and it is precisely in those moments when we should pay more attention to our personal attitude and the functioning of the family.

The first stage: differentiation with the family of origin

It could be considered that the first stage of the family begins with the differentiation of the subject of his family of origin, although he maintains an emotional connection with it. This must be acquiring the role of adult, growing in self-esteem, perceiving their own reality without deforming it and reaching, with a straight and firm attitude, their own adult identity. At this stage one can usually fall into personal psychological immaturity and relationship, maintaining a high emotional dependence on the family of origin.


The creation of the nuclear family

After successfully completing this first stage, we are properly entering the phase of creation of our nuclear family. The challenges will be clearly aimed at finding and finding our partner, and through mutual knowledge in the courtship, we will be able to configure a loyal and compatible relationship, with adjustment of interests, needs and demands, based on a firm and serious commitment, which becomes the foundation of the subsequent construction of the family. In this period, the difficulty of family growth lies in the lack of assumption of authentic commitment and, again, the lack of independence of the family of origin.

Once our own family is set up, its growth does not stop going through paths full of difficulties that must be overcome with the self-illusion that conjugal love provides.

The birth of children

Recent studies claim that the birth of the first child has repercussions in a decrease in conjugal satisfaction. Perhaps this has to do with the increasing age at which the first descendant or the time, also increasing, between the date of the wedding and the first birth.

A marriage without children lives differently from a marriage with small children, so the change in the modus vivendi may not be assumed properly. In the family with small children, the spouses must assume and understand the sacrifices they demand, knowing how to maintain the quality of the conjugal relationship, integrating the expanding family into the respective families of origin and providing the appropriate spiritual, cultural and social formation to their families. decendents.

The family with teenage children

The next stage, that of families with teenage children, would be for a separate chapter. It probably is the period where the family finds the most difficulties in its growth, although it is also an extraordinary challenge to overcome. It is essential to learn to combine the adolescent's wishes -from their personal life stage- with family discipline, so that parents can adapt flexibly to their times of change and maintain a fluid and close communication with their children.It is essential that this adaptation is not deprived of an enrichment of marital communication as a unanimous manifestation that generates security. The difficulties to be overcome at this stage will be present as long as the parents disagree in the decision making, there is not an adequate adaptation of the parents to this phase, and they do not understand the adolescent "rebellion".

The marriage reunion

The last two phases of family growth to which we will arrive whole if we have done our homework before, are related to the reunion, in its purest intimacy, of marriage. LThe children are no longer at home and the work period is coming to an end. It is a time of reorganization and reuse of resources, of support for children, of caring for elderly parents, of adaptation to life without children and preparation for the setbacks of life, but with the disposition of freedom to face even new projects.

The acceptance of age

The last stage, which should be reached with the satisfaction of the duty fulfilled, must be met with the acceptance of age-specific uncertainties. It is a time of reconciliation, of allowing oneself to be cared for by the children while maintaining the appropriate medical treatments, adapting to the physical decline itself and to the painful family losses. It is a unique opportunity to leave our legacy to future generations eager for our experience so that, through it, they do not incur the stumbling blocks of our lives and we can therefore avoid our past suffering. To reach the end of our life having tried to live authentically, through our satisfaction, will undoubtedly bring us closer to what some people call happiness.

Dr. Adrián Cano Prous. Unit of Diagnosis and Family Therapy (UDITEF). Dept. of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology. University of Navarra Clinic

Video: Stages of Family Life: Crash Course Sociology #38


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