Why do some families survive stressful situations while others fall apart? Can a family’s beliefs and values be used as a predictor of vulnerability to stress? And most importantly, can family stress be prevented? The Third Edition of Family Stress Management continues its original commitment to recognize both the external and internal contexts in which distressed families find themselves. With its hallmark Contextual Model of Family Stress (CMFS), the Third Edition provides practitioners and researchers with a useful framework to understand and help distressed individuals, couples, and families. The example of a universal stressor—a death in the family—highlights cultural differences in ways of coping. Throughout, there is new emphasis on diversity and the nuances of family stress management—such as ambiguous loss—plus new discussions on family resilience and community as resources for support.

Ambiguous Loss A Major Stressor
Ambiguous Loss: A Major Stressor

Pauline Boss coined the term ambiguous loss. Her earliest work was on “psychological father absence in intact families” (1973), then on boundary ambiguity in families of soldiers missing in action (1975b, 1977, 1980b; Boss & Greenberg, 1984), and finally on ambiguous loss (1987, 1991, 1999, 2004a, in press). While boundary ambiguity was operationalized by roles and membership in what family social scientists Kingsbury and Scanzoni (1993) called “neo-structure functionalism,” since the 1990s, Boss and others have focused on the broader construct, ambiguous loss. To clarify each construct, we have devoted a chapter to each. We discuss ambiguous loss in Chapter 4, followed by boundary ambiguity in Chapter 5.

When a family member’s absence or presence is ...

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