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The Separate Spheres of Work and Family 259

Work and Family Conflict Related to Burnout 262

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Calling and Differentiation in Christ 264

Calling and Image Bearing 266

Conclusion 269

15. Through the Stress and Pain of Family Life 270 A Model for Understanding Family Stress 271

Stressful Events Resources

Family Responses to Stress 273

Coping Problem-Solving

Coping with Catastrophes and Ambiguous Loss 275

Families in Pain 277

Christian Belief and Response to Stress and Pain 278

16. Divorce and Single-Parent Families 282 Divorce 283

Demographics Causes The Process



The Effects on Children Long- and Short-Term Divorce Adjustment Best-Case Scenarios

A Christian Approach to Divorce 291

Single-Parent Families 292

Not Enough Time Noncustodial Parents Not Enough Money: The Link between Single Parenthood and Poverty

Family Values and Valuing Families: A Christian Response 296

17. Complex Families in Contemporary Society 298 A View from Trinitarian Theology 299

Newly Formed Couple 300

Second-Marriage Dynamics 302

Newly Formed Family 303

Unrealistic Expectations 304

Parents Taking Leadership 306

Stepparents/Stepchildren 308

Stepfathers/Stepchildren 309

Marital Tension over Stepchildren 310

Summary 311

Part 7: Family Life in Postmodern Society 315 18. Biblical Family Values in a Modern and Postmodern World 317

Modernity Defined 318

The Crisis and Challenge of Modernity Consciousness Communication Community Commodities

The Impact of Modernity on the Family 323

Fragmentation of Consciousness THE PROBLEM FALSE HOPES



Complexity of Communication THE PROBLEM FALSE HOPES

Disintegration of Community THE PROBLEM FALSE HOPES

Dominance of Commodities THE PROBLEM FALSE HOPES

19. Creating a Family-Friendly Society 331 Inadequate Responses to Modernity 331

Toward a Radical Response to Modernity and Postmodernity 333

Release from Bondage to Commodities Reconstruction of Community Revitalization of Communication Reintegration of Consciousness

Support Structures 338

Extended Families 338

Koinonia in Communities 339

The Church 339

Shalom in Society 340

Hope for the Family and Society 342

Bibliography 343 Index 379 Back Cover 390





1. Theological Characteristics of Family Relationships 8 2. Types of Commitment in Family Relationships 12 3. Family-Systems Theory 26 4. Disengagement, Differentiation, and Fusion 41 5. Adaptability and Cohesion within Families 43 6. Styles of Instrumental Parenting 118 7. Styles of Socio-emotional Parenting 120 8. An Interactive Developmental Model of Human Sexuality 221


1. From Hurting to Healing Behavior 22 2. Family Development 37 3. Characteristics of Effective and Ineffective Families 40 4. Traditional, Biblical, and Modern Views of Marriage 95 5. Major Stage-Specific Theories of Child Development 134 6. The Impact of Modernity on the Family: Dilemmas and False

Hopes 323 7. Creating a Positive Family Environment 334




We (Jack and Judy) initially wrote The Family: A Christian Perspective on the Contemporary Home to present an integrated view of contemporary family life based on current social-science research, clinical insights, and biblical truth. The biblical integration reflects broad theological truths woven throughout the Scriptures rather than specific proof texts. We chose to present the social-scientific knowledge in an easy-to-read style rather than one that was academic but more cumbersome. The positive response to the previous four editions of our book has warranted this updated fifth edition. And we brought on a coauthor, Tom, to partner with us in the task. Building on the previous material, this new edition incorporates the most current research to date—with over one hundred additional references incorporated into the fifth edition—and our response to the continued changes that are taking place in modern society and family life, the increasing role of grandparents in parenting their grandchildren, and work and family life. And in recognition of the importance of biosocial influence, we highlight the interactive effect of bio-psycho-socio-cultural factors that help us understand family dynamics.

Our book is divided into seven parts. In part 1, “Theological and Social Perspectives on Family Life,” we put forward a basic theology of relationships and theoretical perspectives on the family as a developing biosocial system. Part 2, “Marriage: The Foundation of Family Life,” is devoted to the topics of mate selection, cohabitation, and the establishment of a strong Christian marriage. In part 3, “The Expansion of Family Life: Parenting and Beyond,” we focus on the development and rearing of young children, the particular challenges of midlife parents and their adolescent children, and the joys and challenges of the later-life family. In part 4, “Gender and Sexuality: Identity in Family Life,” we consider the changing definitions of masculinity and femininity and the implications they have for family relationships, and we discuss the complex dimensions of becoming an authentic sexual self as part of God’s design and intention. Part 5, “Communication: The Heart of Family Life,” describes the expression of



love and intimacy as well as the expression of anger and normal conflicts that inevitably occur between family members. In part 6, “The Social Dynamics of Family Life,” we attend to the critical aspects of family life such as work-family dynamics, life stressors, divorce, single parenthood, remarriage, and building new family forms. Part 7, “Family Life in Postmodern Society,” deals with the effects that modern industrialized society and postmodern thinking have had on family life. Suggestions are made for changing social structures to create a more family-friendly environment.

Rather than taking a piecemeal approach, devoting each chapter to a specific topic, we have attempted to make every chapter an integral part of the overarching theme of the book. The foundation for this theme is the theology of family relationships expounded in parts 1 and 2. Therefore, we have aspired to weave into the content of each chapter our theological basis for family relationships from the perspective of the family as a developing system.

Coauthorship and teamwork make this book a collaborative project. A marriage and family therapist for over forty years, Judy is senior professor at Fuller Theological Seminary in the Marriage and Family Therapy Department. Jack, a professional sociologist with forty-five years of teaching, research, and writing experience at the university and seminary level, is also a senior professor at Fuller. They have each had postdoctoral seminary training in theology and biblical studies and they speak throughout the United States and abroad on marriage and family life. Tom Frederick has known Jack and Judy since 1997, when he came to Fuller Theological Seminary as a marriage and family therapy student. It was there that he was introduced to the Balswick’s theology of family relationships and witnessed their authentic Christian commitment to personal and spiritual growth as mentors and scholars. Tom is currently a professor of psychology and the program director for the online Master of Science in Counseling Psychology program at California Baptist University.

Although we have attempted to blend academic, clinical, and theological understandings of the family, our interest in family life is not merely as scholars. The core of our lives has been experienced in the context of family, and our joint calling is to minister to families. We feel most fortunate to have been reared and nurtured in loving Christian homes. Our parents modeled



unconditional love and grace that provided secure foundations and brought profound spiritual meaning to our lives.

Being married for sixty years has taught us (Jack and Judy) much about what it takes to live out the principles we propose in this book. Our adult children, Jacque and Joel, have challenged and continue to challenge us to grow throughout every life stage. We have tried to maintain balance through the joys and pains, ups and downs, ebb and flow, stress and elation of family living. Forty years ago our beloved ten-year-old son, Jeff, died of bone cancer. Working through that loss as well as remembering the delight of his life has changed us all. We spent three years living in an extended-family arrangement with our daughter Jacque, her first husband, and our two- and three-year-old grandsons, Curtis and Jacob, who have now graduated from college and are working full time. We have two additional grandsons, Taylor and Liam, from our daughter’s marriage to Dana Kirk. Our adopted Korean son Joel is married to Uyen Mai, a Chinese Vietnamese woman, who has enriched our multicultural perspective. In addition they have gifted us with our first granddaughter, Elizabeth, and their adopted Korean son, Benjamin. We’ve been through the agonizing illnesses and deaths of all four parents and had the privilege and challenge of living with Judy’s aging mother for nine months prior to her death at age ninety-two.

I (Tom) have been married to Gail Frederick for twenty-three years, which has taught me much about the transformative nature of marriage. Gail’s Taiwanese background has added a crucial multicultural dimension to family life. We have had to practice careful listening and other communication strategies. Further, it has been enriching to see both sets of in-laws accept us as part of the family. We have enjoyed the hospitality of our Taiwanese family while making our lives in California. Raising two children, Nathaniel and Zoe, has provided many opportunities to practice empowerment, grace, and intimacy. Being a teenager is challenging under normal circumstances; however, there are no manuals for parenting or being a teen during a global pandemic.

All in all, the three of us have learned a lot and continue to learn as we encounter the blessings and struggles of each unique stage of family life. Having preached on the fragility of the isolated nuclear family, we are constantly reminded of our need for God as our strength as well as for those who have walked alongside us on the journey. Our friends, family, and communities of faith add a wealth of wisdom and perspective. We want to



offer a warm and heartfelt thanks to Nathaniel Frederick, who assisted in compiling and updating the bibliography. Robert Hosack at Baker Academic provided needed encouragement for us tackling this revision. We would be remiss without thanking editor James Korsmo and copyeditor Stephanie Juliot. Their thorough review, attention to detail, and helpful suggestions have greatly improved this fifth edition. Finally, we would like to thank Paula Gibson from the visual communication department whose work on the front cover captured beautifully the content of the book. We trust that what we have learned will benefit our readers.

Visit www.bakeracademic.com/professors to access study aids

and instructor materials for this textbook.




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