Various models and theories have been proposed to describe the stages of the family life cycle. While some models follow a linear progression, others consider more dynamic and diverse family structures. Here are a few different models of the family life cycle. All worth a quick review as you prepare to pass the social work licensing exam. Find a practice question on the topic at the bottom of the post. 

  • Traditional Linear Model: This model follows a sequential progression from marriage or cohabitation through raising children and eventually reaching the empty nest stage and retirement.
  • Modified Extended Family Life Cycle Model: Takes into account the presence of extended family members, such as grandparents or other relatives, who may play significant roles in raising children or providing support during various life stages.
  • Duvall's Developmental Model: Proposed by sociologist Reuben Hill and further developed by Evelyn Duvall, this model divides the family life cycle into eight stages. These stages include married couples, childbearing families, families with preschool children, families with school-age children, families with teenagers, launching families (children leaving home), families in later life (post-retirement), and aging families (focusing on the later stages of life).
  • Dual-Earner Family Life Cycle Model: Specifically designed to address the challenges and transitions experienced by dual-earner families, where both partners are actively involved in the workforce. It considers the impact of work-life balance, career advancement, and childcare arrangements on family dynamics.
  • Single-Parent Family Life Cycle Model: Acknowledges the unique challenges faced by single parents and their children. It emphasizes coping with the absence of a partner and the single parent's efforts to fulfill both parenting and provider roles.
  • LGBTQ+ Family Life Cycle Model: Recognizes the life stages and experiences of families with LGBTQ+ parents or individuals. It addresses issues related to coming out, forming relationships, and building families, often facing unique social and legal challenges.
  • Cultural Family Life Cycle Models: Take into account the influence of culture, ethnicity, and traditions on family dynamics and life stages. They consider how specific cultural norms and practices shape family roles and relationships.

It's essential to recognize that each family is unique and may not fit precisely into any one model. Contemporary societies have become increasingly diverse, and family structures can vary widely, influenced by factors like socioeconomic status, geography, and individual preferences. These diverse models of family life cycles help researchers and practitioners better understand and support the evolving needs of families in today's world.

Here's a question on the topic like one you may encounter on the ASWB exam:

A social worker is working with a same-sex couple who have been in a committed relationship for 10 years and have decided to adopt a child together. The couple expresses concerns about potential challenges they might face as same-sex parents. According to the family life cycle model, which stage is this family currently experiencing?

A) Childbirth and Parenting

B) Empty Nest

C) Launching Children

D) Marriage

How would you answer?

Let's take them from last to first. "Marriage"--doesn't fully capture the situation. "Launching Children" refers to grown children launching into the world. Incorrect. "Empty Nest" follows launching. That leaves one answer--the correct answer: "Childbirth and Parenting."

In the family life cycle model, the "Childbirth and Parenting" stage refers to the period when a couple becomes parents and starts raising children. In this scenario, the couple is embarking on the journey of parenthood by adopting a child together. They express concerns about challenges they might face as same-sex parents, concerns that fit nicely in the "Childbirth and Parenting" stage.

Got it? 

Either way, you're ready for full-length exam practice. We've got over 900 question on all topic areas designed to prepare you to pass the social work exam.

Get started now

August 3, 2023
Categories :