Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Family Life Cycle

  • Laura Landry-MeyerEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_527


Family development theory


Family life cycle theory is a dominant theory in marriage and family therapy, family science, and other disciplines. Family life cycle theory is used to systematically organize family transitions throughout a family’s life based on a structural definition of family membership. The focus of family life cycle theory is on a family who has children. Family life cycle theory is adaptable to describe the unique needs of various family structures, but the basic theoretical assumptions are based on children within the family system.

At a broad, family-level, family life cycle’s collection of assumptions has descriptive power using a structural, membership-based definition of family. Using a pattern of sequential stages, the family life cycle focuses on family composition and transitions that affect family members’ behavior over time. The temporal component starts with the formation of a couple to the addition of children to dissolution (e.g.,...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Human Development and Family StudiesBowling Green State UniversityBowling GreenUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Rachel Diamond
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Saint JosephWest HarfordUSA