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Now you know why I say, "The family takes a lot of work!" A healthy family will go through several stages that require perseverance and a good work ethic.

Stage One -- The family begins at the, "I do"s and a couple is birthed. Now comes the dying to self.

Stage Two -- The couple's life is dramatically changed at the arrival of the first child. Now comes heaps of responsibility and stress.

Stage three -- The children grow up out of the toddler years and start school. The family is apart more and life becomes more hectic with school age children. Families can drift apart if they are not careful here.

Stage four -- Now the children reach adolescence and life changes quickly. Turmoil enters the family unit. Hormones invade the home. Expenses go up for couples in this stage. There are more activities and more separation of the family individuals. There are more choices to make and peer pressures. The family helps here in guidance and direction while allowing the child now teen to become and individual and to move to individuation. This is a hard time for the family and can tear it apart if it is not healthy.

Step Five -- the empty nest is another difficult passage were the couple finds themselves a couple again with their children gone. Children no longer are the focus of their family unit. Now mom and dad look to each other for companionship.

Stage Six -- Then comes Grandchildren but it's still very different.

You can see why we need the healthy keys of a strong family if we are going to thrive, adjust, flex and stay together through these life stages.

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