The Early Phase:
This is the time when new families form boundaries, rules, regulations and rituals to govern themselves. The healthy family establishes boundaries to meet the needs of the family members. The dysfunctional family establishes boundaries to meet the needs of the Prime Stressor and the family as a unit. Accommodation rather than cooperation is the primary factor. I live my life adjusting to someone else’s problem.
The Middle Phase:
This is a time of consolidation. In the dysfunctional system, this phase is marked by the necessity of commitment to the family and a growing consistency of regulatory behaviour according to the family. It really boils down to each member of the family being there for the family but the family not being there for them. It is during this stage that dependency behaviour(s) of the Prime Stressor is reinforced. The family consistently meets the needs of the Prime Stressor/and the system ... at the expense of the needs of the individual within the system. Members of the system get abandoned with everyone home. During this phase there is strong resistance to either growth or change. New rules and norms form around how the family can operate. These become the rules of the road within the system. Everyone adapts:
The family adjusts their thinking to make the unacceptable acceptable. This is not healthy, but it is the norm and acceptable because it has been sanctioned by the system to define their Way of Doing Things. Acceptable according to the rules developed by the family to cope.
The Late Phase:
It is during this phase that the legacies for future generations form. The way of things for the family system becomes the customs and rituals especially at celebratory times of the year. Co dependent families experience this phase with the most difficulty. With the progression of the dependency cycle severe health problems begin to arise and the family resists the need for change and becomes more rigid in their ways. As the family tries to cope with the crisis of the moment they are totally unable to prepare for their future and more importantly they have never considered facing the demons of their past.