The General concept of the cycle of life and way of life of the family


First, the concept of the cycle of the family migrated to psychology, from sociology, therefore the basic categories are rather sociological and related to facts recorded externally and objectively. Most sociological classifications as a basic reference take parent-child relationships, we can say that from this point of view, any family a priori is considered as geocentrically. So, according to the classification of one of the founders of modern sociology, Pitirim Sorokin, highlighted 4 main stages of family life cycle:

  • young family or marital couple without children;
  • family with minor (dependent) children;
  • the family in which at least one child reached the age of majority;
  • family after separation for all children.

Similar classification offers domestic and sociologist A. V. Antonov:

Stage predvoditelstvom. At this stage the couple is in the process of preparation for the birth of children, which is seen as an indispensable condition for the full family. According to the norm, this stage lasts about 2 years, but in practice this stage can be only in case if the family «childfree» or for other reasons can’t afford children. In addition to purely biological (medical) reasons it may be the desire of family members to begin to take care of career, more reliable social situation, lack of self-confidence in relationship to other life priorities. As for the reasons, which usually forced the family to move to the next stage, there is in addition to biological reasons, a crucial role is played by the pressure from the society and also the so called vertical family incentives from parents. It should be noted that the proliferation of abortion and contraception in modern society have changed the perception of this stage of people. Can also be seen as a natural reaction of the social system on overpopulation and urbanization.

The reproductive stage of parenthood. At this stage the family has a firstborn. Also, this stage can be of varying size depending on the number of children is expected to have in the family. In most modern States young families with children ineligible for certain official privileges, you must also consider the informal perception of the family with a small child community approval and support received by members of the nuclear family within the extended family, and workforce. The family receives the recognition as a sustainable unit of society. All this is intended to partially compensate for the objectively existing stress associated with a drastic change of pace of life, limiting many opportunities with increased responsibilities. Also the birth of a child are usually significantly strengthens the family and reduces the risk of decay that can be used by a woman as a way to strengthen relationships.

The stage of socialized parenthood. This stage lasts until the parents have been raising children. At this stage for parents the main task is to maintain a balance between attention to children and other social life. Excessive grooming in one direction or another usually has further detrimental consequences for children and for parents. In the social sense, a family with children go through a stage of socialization included in the broader social field «families with children» many of their social contacts and social behavior is determined by this inclusion, on the contrary couples without children or singles are often excluded from the social world.

Ends the stage of socialized parenthood at that moment when grown children are finally separated and created their own family relationships. The duration of this stage is maximally diluted, and can last as long as you want — as mentioned above in modern society, in contrast to the traditional no hard age marker for the transition from one stage to another, however, have retained certain «quaterfoil initiation», like finishing school or University, finding a job (depending on social class).

However, the «tightening» at this stage can be considered a pathology in a psychological sense, because it implies either absence of normal socialization or direct intervention of parents in the family business of children. Unfortunately, this pathology can often be caused by unfavorable external conditions such as lack of separate housing or normal operation.

Stage postsocialiste. This stage begins with the birth of the first grandchild, which leads to the creation of structure of a new type — the extended family, in which the spouses begin to perform radically new functions. The extended family persists in modern society, but it takes some specifics — so far not always realized in the scenario of cohabitation of several generations, in those countries where the level of social security that allows acceptable option is the parents live after retirement in nursing homes, unfortunately, in the post-Soviet countries is not the case. The extended family most often involves the activation of not only vertical, but also horizontal intra-family relations, which greatly facilitates the normal functioning of the family in postsocialistic period.

It is easy to see that sociological theories of family life cycle to understand the repeatability and closed loop, family structure is reproduced in the next generation. Family in this case acts as the basic unit of the larger social system — community and fully built into it. In fact, we are talking about redefining the traditional family model in the form in which it persists in modern society.

From a psychological point of view, this scheme cannot be considered universal, because in many cases it is disturbed by external or internal factors that must be taken into consideration when considering the individual family.

External factors may include disaster and emergency events of different scale that often lead to the formation of incomplete families. Many societies of the twentieth century the percentage of single-parent families formed in this way was quite significant. So a global war or protracted social and economic crisis usually entails a major change in the demographic statistics. Which in turn leads to the formation of typical for a particular generation of psychological problems related to family life.

Formally, the full family can be considered dysfunctional, and in that case, if one or both parents cannot afford to pay family life enough attention being internally occupied the issues of material security. In this case, the family may completely abandon the children, or the child may develop various pathologies in the psychological development associated with lack of parental attention.

External social conditions can greatly affect the geographical conditions of residence of the family, whose importance for the normal passage of the life cycle mentioned above.

To the inner pathological factors can be attributed to various disturbances in the role-model of relations within the family, which can also seriously disrupt the described life cycles. This is mainly due to various psychological problems parental pairs, which make the family system as a whole dysfunctional.

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