Couples Families and Relationships –
Chapter 7 – The Middle Years
The Middle Years are a time of change and Transition for parents and adolescents. Children become
independent following various time-tables. Midlife adults must make time to adapt to the changes that
happen in their own lives.
Current parenting generation consists of baby boomers (ranging from about 40-60). Midlife is a time of
evaluation and a time to look at yourself and see if you have made a difference to society through forms
of generativity. They make wish to build a new identity if they see no major life change. At this age the
fact that they are going to die catches up with them. They also must assess work goals and close
relationships are assessed. Some people choose to make major changes to their lives to increase their
Brings physical, emotional, and social change. Teens often take risks because they cannot control their
impulses. The understanding, support, and monitoring from parents is important to encourage healthy
Older teens need to develop a sense of identity in order to choose their career path and build significant
relationships. Independence is delayed as emerging adults build a foundation for their adult life,
including getting their education. Because of this, many continue to live with their parents. Parents who
encourage independence develop a healthy relationship with their kids.
The Not-so-Empty-Nest and the Sandwich Generation
Obstacles such as delayed marriage, single parenthood, employment difficulties, and education often
prevent the younger generation from living alone. In general, these arrangements benefit both parties.
Adults may also choose to move back home if their parents require increasing care.
Generativity: the focus on one’s legacy
Midlife Crisis: extreme strain as a person re-evaluates life in middle- age
Sandwich Generation: middle-aged adults who experience stress of continuing dependency of their
children and increasing disability of their parents (typically women).
Revolving Door: children that repeatedly move in and out of their parents’ home. Chapter 8 – Getting Older
The population in Canada is getting older as a result of the baby boom population aging and a low birth
rate. Age is difficult to define since it consists of several different dimensions. The developmental task of
old age is allowing the next generation to take over leadership, and to find order in the final stages of
The “Young” Old
People can retire earlier now because of better pension plans, however there are many inequities
associated with pensions. Women in particular are disadvantaged because of their lower employment
rates, or lower pay with less benefits. When people grow older, their interests shift from work to other
activities, family roles change to an important area of social support. Men are more likely to be married
in older age than women because of lower life expectancy of men. Most couples at this age are fairly
satisfied with their relationships and patterns developed early on are likely to continue. Retirement can
also affect relationships due to changing roles. It can also be difficult when only one partner is retired.
Sex is still important to a relationship, especially for men. Sibling relationships redevelop, especially in
the widowed and childless.
Relationships with children are often based on help, and the relationships with grandchildren depend on
how well the grandparents get along with the parents. Grandparents can be a great support to
grandchildren, and in some cases provide day-care.
The “Old” Old
Health and Self-care become big issue as a person ages. Life-satisfaction is related to independence as
one age. Often prolonged illness and disease is scarier to elders than death itself. Adjustment to
widowhood involves the loss of identity, purpose and status. Economic hardship may result from death,
both because of funeral costs and a drop in income.
Involving older people and their family members:
1) Independence vs. dependence
2) Connectedness vs. separateness
3) Openness vs. privateness
Few seniors live in institutions. They wish to remain connected with the people they love without
disrupting their lifestyle. Privacy is important to them but becomes difficult with personal health
Different cultures are much more likely than native Canadians to live in 3-generational families. In the
past, aboriginal elders had very important roles with young people, teaching them traditions and
language. This role was disrupted with residential schools etc. but is once again valued. Key Terms
Chronological Age: the number of years a person has lived.
Physical Aging: changes that occur to the body with age.
Psychological Age: the attitudes and beliefs about one’s age.
Social Age: cultural norms that specify appropriate behaviour for people of a give age.
Clawback: the practice of defining benefits as income and taxing them and of requiring repayment when
income reaches a certain level.
Chapter 12 – The Working Family
Family care is closely associated with the attitudes of women and work. When mothers’ paid
employment has been seen as important for society, daycare for children was provided. Current
attitudes reflected in government spending enforce a belief that families are responsible for their own
members. Many parents have trouble finding affordable day care that reflects their work hours.
Work and family are related through conflicting demands. A major stress on women comes from the
conflicting messages of family and work, not all workplaces are responsive to family needs. Modern
appliances have lessened the housework load, but these duties still consume a great deal of time and
the burden usually still falls to women, even if both partners are working.
Burnout, the result of extreme stress, is often related to the conflict between family and work, especially
in women. It results in poor performance in all areas of one’s life.
One solution is to adapt work hours to fit your family’s schedule. You can adapt your work hours or start
earlier or later. People can start working at home and may split a full-time job between two people. This
may not always be financially sustainable.
Burnout: a state of physical and emotional exhaustion resulting from prolonged stress from trying to live
up to impossible goals.
Compressed Workweek: a full-time job in which a workweek is concentrated in three or four days,
allowing for several days in succession off work.
Flextime: an arrangement in which full-time employees can determine when they arrive at and when
they leave work.
Spillover: a situation where family and work role or time demands interfere with each other.
Telecommuting: working outside the office using a computer.
Chapter 15 – Poverty and the Family
What is poverty?
There are two ways to define poverty: first measures absolute poverty and uses a standard of the
minimum amount of money required to ensure physical survival, the second is a relative measure based
on the standard of social well-being. In North-America we focus on the “deserving poor”. The most
common definition of poverty used by Stats Canada is the LICO (low-income cut off). Who are the poor?
There are 4 principle groups of poor people:
1) Older women- often haven’t been employed and are solely dependent on the government
2) Young adults- affected by the shift of employment from well-paying areas to poorer paying
consumer areas. They often can only get part time work.
3) Young working couples- tend to be single earner families with many children, includes single
4) Low-educated people- often cannot find good paying jobs.
Coping with Poverty
People in poverty have various strategies to cope with it. They use help from family and friends,
unreported work (so that they can still receive welfare), and sometimes illegal activities. The situation is
worsened by the lack of affordable housing for families. With so much income going towards housing
costs, there is little money left for other essentials such as food. This is one of the reasons why people
Shelter conditions do not favour family living, both because of lack of privacy and some residents have
problems that disturb others. Because of this, shelters are often a last resort.
Children in Poverty
Children are the largest single group that lives in poverty. Poverty affects their health and education.
Nutrition may be inadequate and resistance to illness could be low. Many children from low i