15 terms

Family Development Theory

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History of Family Development Theory
psychology-based theories, with their narrower emphasis on individuals, did not fully explain what happened in families with competing individual needs. Sociology-based theories which focused on society and culture were too broad in their analysis. Family development theory emerged in the late 1940s from the critique of these two perspectives
Family
"interacting persons related by ties of marriage, birth, or adoption, whose central purpose is to create and maintain a common culture which promotes the physical, mental, emotional, and social development of each of its members"
Family: 2
"an intergenerational social group organized and governed by social norms regarding descent and affinity, reproduction, and the nurturant socialization of the young"
Family Stages
a time period in the life of a family that is unique in its structure, interaction patterns, and role-relationships-with each stage being precipitated by normative events (e.g., marriage, child birth) that happen with the passage of time, each stage is distinct and qualitatively different from the others
Developmental tasks
each stage of development requires the family to change in order to accommodate the needs of its members; developmental tasks focus on what the family, as a unit, must accomplish or master prior to movement to the next stage
family life cycle/course
a set of predictable stages and developmental tasks a family experiences over time. the family life cycle concept facilitates studying the family over the life course of its members (i.e., from beginning to end)
change
family development theory proposes that family relationships are not static but rather change over time. the catalysts for change can either be internal (biological growth) or external (through interaction with the environment)
transitions
developmental events or processes that are characterized by shifts in roles, behaviors, and responsibilities of family members. individual changes become the catalyst for family change, causing transitions from one stage to another
norms
each stage of development is related to behaviors or tasks that would normally be expected to occur during that stage. Norms are societal expectations that govern both group and individual behaviors, often defining the roles that people play. these norms are socially defined and change over time as cultural mores change
timing
normative timing recognizes that social prescriptions exist as to when individuals and families are to engage in particular behaviors or accomplish certain tasks (i.e., a social clock).
Age norms
denote when an event or stage is to be experiences
sequencing norms
are the order in which the events or stages are to be experienced. it makes a difference to the family when a child is born, when a couple marries, when someone retires, or when someone moves out of the house
Basic assumptions of family development theory
1. families should be viewed over time. how and when families change, what they accomplish at different points in time, and why they change can be known only if one studies families over time
2. families and individuals progress through a series of similar developmental stages and face similar transition points and developmental tasks; transitions from one stage to the next are usually related to changes in individuals due to maturation and aging, changes in relationships between members, family structure, and norms associated with family roles
3. there are tasks (i.e., normative expectations associated with each stage of development); the extent to which the family successfully accomplishes the tasks (i.e., its responsibilities) at each stage affects its goals, expectations, relationships and behaviors in the future. Failure to complete a task may limit a family's optimal functioning at the next or later stages
4. institutional norms regulate family behavior. These norms control which events are permitted, required, and forbidden; the order in which families should sequence stages; and the duration of those stages
5. development is reciprocal; the individual development of each family member influences other family members, as well as the overall development of the family. because there is reciprocity in the interaction of the family and individual development, it is necessary to consider them together
Strengths of family development theory
1. the ability to view the dynamic nature of the family over long periods of time
2. the ease of understanding the stages and developmental tasks
3. the ability to identify and predict developmental impasses experienced by families
4. the ability to explain stress and symptomology presented by families at various stages of the life cycle
5. the theory can be utilized to research various domains of family life across developmental stages and across difference cultures
what are the criticisms of family development theory
1. The theory best describes the trajectory of intact, two-parent, middle class, heterosexual, lifelong couples and their children.
2. The theory does not account for different family forms associated with divorce, death of a spouse, remarriage, childless couples, or cohabiting or gay/lesbian couples.
3. The theory "normalized" one type of family and invalidated others.
4. The theory deemed parenthood to be a primary "organizer of the life course" to the exclusion of other family forms.
5. Many criticize the theory as being only descriptive and lacking explanatory power. The theory describes transitional tasks but does not explain how (i.e., by what process) they are successfully negotiated.
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