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The Psychology of Everyday Life:Love, Marriage, and the Baby Carriage

Families

How do family dynamics change across development?

Family dynamics change tremendously as children grow and develop. In the beginning when children are young, parents have much more control and authority. The family spends more time together as children are not capable of independent social lives. The extended family is often more involved at this time as well, as parents need considerable support with child care. As the children grow older and more independent, parents must loosen the reigns. Family members are less exclusively involved with each other and more involved with the outside world. Parents depend less on extended family for help in child care.

Eventually, parents and adult children establish more egalitarian relationships, a transformation that can be quite challenging at times. Parents must allow their grown children more independence and adult children must take on responsibility for their own lives. As the grown children start their own families, parents become grandparents and the family relationships are reconfigured again. The final reconfiguration comes toward the end of the parents’ lives, when the grown children assume more of a caretaking role with their aging parents.



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