The Contemporary American Family: A Dialectical Perspective on Communication and Relationships recognizes that families are both close and distant, stable and changing, amenable and uncontrollable. Teresa Chandler Sabourin employs a dialectical approach, acknowledging that a family’s contradictions and relational tensions may be the determining factor in its interaction. Writing in a direct and simple style, Sabourin uses this innovative theoretical position to address four types of family diversity: structural, cultural, developmental, and functional. Designed as a supplemental text for upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses in Family Communication, The Contemporary American Family is also an invaluable resource for students in Family Studies and Women’s Studies courses.    

Developmental Diversity

Developmental diversity

In addition to their cultures and structures, families vary in their developmental patterns and individual family members. Relationships between family members grow and change over time. The manner in which families manage the dialectical tensions of stability and change, as well as autonomy and connection, and the ways families combine culture and structure can result in numerous developmental patterns. In this chapter, we review several approaches to family development and discuss specific models that illustrate change patterns in blended and dual-orientation families.

Approaches to Development

Regardless of their particular structures and cultures, all families change over time. The families of five, ten, or twenty years ago will exhibit some major shifts and probably many minor changes in relational patterns. Although families are actually ...

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