The family life cycle 

All families experience changes over time. These changes follow a pattern, that is, they have a common pattern in most families, which is why we speak of stages of the Family Life Cycle. 

These stages are not understood only as the changes that each of the members that make up the family nucleus will go through separately, but rather the family as such evolves, as a whole beyond the sum of its parts and the different members of The family will experience these changes differently. 

What are these stages that a family unit goes through? 

There are multiple models to explain the family cycle, among the most used is the one proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO), which divides family evolution into the following stages. 

The first of these phases has been called training, begins with the constitution of the couple. It represents the first role adjustment for the members of the couple. It is at this point that the new couple must define the interaction they will have and likewise establish limits on the relationship.  

The subsequent extension stage begins with the birth of first child, with this transition towards the parental phase, the family becomes a trio, in which one of them is totally dependent on the others. It marks the beginning of the procreative activity of the family, in which the new parents must establish the canons that they must put into practice with their children. This phase includes the birth of all subsequent children, no matter how many be. With the birth of the couple's last children, the full extension phase will begin. 

After this, the contraction phase which begins when the first child leaves the family home. At that moment the social and emotional circle that the family represents begins to shrink; this phase ends when the last of the children leaves their parents' home. 

From this event the phase of complete contraction. It is at this stage that both parents can develop the so-called empty nest syndrome, if they do not adequately deal with the distance from their children and the adaptations that these changes require. 

The complete contraction phase ends when the first of the spouses dies, which marks the beginning of the phase of dissolution of the family. This stage is definitively consummated, with the death of the last of the spouses, which puts an end to the evolution. of the family. 

Is it necessary for education professionals to take these stages into account when intervening with a family? 

It is important that education professionals who deal with families in their professional work know the stages of the family life cycle, as well as the characteristics of each of these stages, the milestones and the needs inherent to each of them. 

Each stage entails different situations and the members of a family must adapt their roles in order to be adopted to the needs of each of the stages. The transition from one stage to another involves imbalances and tensions in the family dynamic that as professionals we must take into account for our intervention to be effective. 

All this and much more in our Intervention with Minors program.

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