American Families in Crisis: A Reference Handbook

By Jeffrey S. Turner | Go to book overview

1
Background and History

Introduction

For the Greenwood family, the nagging problem was financial in scope. The Mattison household never seemed to recover from the accidental death of their nine-month-old son. Around-the-clock care for their aging parents placed the Thompson family in a continual state of sorrow and depression. And for Donna Rivera, the problem persisting for years was her alcoholic husband. (Names used in this book are fictitious unless otherwise noted.)

In this introductory chapter, the nature of family stress and crisis is explored, as is the concept of therapeutic intervention— be it individual counseling for the principally affected family member, the entire family unit, or some segments of it. This exploration is presented not only in terms of the traditional American family but also with full recognition that many variations in family systems exist today (e.g., single parents, cohabitating relationships, gay partnerships, grandparent-grandchild living arrangements).

Throughout the family life cycle, successful adjustment involves the mastery of tasks, challenges, and demands met along the way. For example, couples just starting out face such developmental tasks as establishing and maintaining intimacy, adjusting to parenthood, and launching careers. These are all life changes that bring along their share of change and challenge.

Other events persist into middle and late adulthood. In midlife, coping with the departure of grown children or caring for aging parents are but two examples of potentially stressful life situations. During late adulthood, adjusting to retirement,

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American Families in Crisis: A Reference Handbook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • List of Tables xv
  • List of Figures xvii
  • Preface xix
  • 1 - Background and History 1
  • 2 - Problems, Controversies, and Solutions 31
  • 3 - Special U.S. Issues 81
  • 4 - Chronology 117
  • 5 - Biographical Sketches 137
  • 6 - Data and Documents 163
  • 7 - Directory of Organizations 213
  • 8 - Selected Print and Nonprint Resources 243
  • Glossary 293
  • Index 297
  • About the Author 307
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