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Family Forms and Family Life Cycle

Main Core Tie

Adult Roles And Responsibilities
Strand 4 Standard 4

Additional Core Ties

Adult Roles and Financial Literacy
Strand 6 Standard 4




Students will define and learn about family life cycles and understand the various forms of families.


Additional Resources

  • "Family Life in the '90s: Understanding the Economic Issues," Current Consumer and Lifestudies, May, 1990.
  • "Stepfamilies Are Unique," What's New in Home Economics, September, 1984.
  • "Death of the Family?" Newsweek, January 17, 1983.
  • "Families in the Year 2000," Dr. Gerald R. Adams, Professor of Family and Human Development and Psychology, Utah State University, Logan, Utah.
  • The Stepfamily Foundation, 333 West End Ave., New York, NY 10023, 212-744-6924.

Instructional Procedures

Use the vocabulary worksheet (pdf) with students.

Primary Vocabulary

  • Divorced Adults
  • Single-Parent Families
  • Grandparents as Caregivers
  • Grown Children Moving Back with their Parents
  • Grandparents Living with Families
  • Blended Families
  • Working Mothers
  • Living Alone
  • Marrying Later in Life
  • Couples Having Children Later in Life
  • Couples with Fewer Children
  • Couples with No Children

FCCLA Activity Option

The students divide into 4 groups. Hand out a spider graphic organizer (pdf) (have overhead as example--with one title on it). Students will then brainstorm names for the stages of the family life cycle. Then have them write in the changes that they think occurs during each stage.

Process questions:

  1. Was it hard getting started? Why?
  2. What did you find was holding your team back?
  3. What are some of the title or labels did you give the family life cycle?
  4. What are some of the changes did you think happened in each cycle?

Content Outline, Activities and Teaching Strategies
(All options do not necessarily need to be taught. Select ones to cover standards and objectives and according to your district policies.)

Option 1: Millions of Kids
From the Family Forms PowerPoint Presentation discuss The Millions of Kids (updated) 2006 statistics:

  • 73.7 million children in the USA
  • 67% of children 0-17 live with both natural parents (10% of those live with an stepparent)
  • 23% live with mom only
  • 5% live with dad only
  • 5% live with neither parent (grandparents, foster parents, or other relatives)

See Family Structure and Children's Living Arrangements.

Option 2: Family Relationships
Present the information on family relationships from the PowerPoint Presentation and the Family Relationships/Life Cycles Teacher Information (pdf). Have students identify their own families according to the descriptions given.

Option 3: Family Life Cycle
Present the information on the family life cycle from the PowerPoint Presentation, Family Relationships/Life Cycles Teacher Information (pdf), and What is a Family Life Cycle Information (pdf).

Option 4: Family Life Cycle Wall Charts
Divide students up and send them to assigned chart. Have them think and write down all the financial responsibilities that are relevant for this age group /life cycle.

Present information from Life Cycle of Financial Planning (pdf).

Option 5: Family Forms
Follow the Family PowerPoint Presentation and use the information from The Changing Family Teacher Information (pdf) and the American Family Transparency (pdf) to discuss the different family forms. The information contains several case studies of the family forms. It also contains information from the New York Times and the US Census Bureau News. Discuss the strengths and weakness of various family forms. Have students fill in the American Family Strengths/Weakness Worksheet (pdf).

The addition articles American Family Statistics (pdf) and The Changing American Family(pdf) can be used.

Diversity seems to be the future of the American family, but the ideal of marrying and having children to love and care for is still a vital part of the family in America. Flexibility, adaptability, and tolerance for change are helpful skills for making family life terrific!

Created: 07/08/2011
Updated: 02/05/2018