it’s a roller coaster world: the new family norm

As a family therapist and professor, although now retired, it seems everywhere I go people are talking about monumental cultural and political change affecting their families.

I’ve been thinking about this, trying to make sense and bring into focus what people are living through, looking for answers, not just coping ability, but strategies for stability, leading to stratagems for thriving in an ever changing world.

My mind wandered back to the beginning of my educational career, what I, along with millions of Psych 101 students learned. Take a deep breath with me now, as we go back to basics. It’s time for a review & application to our current situation.

Maslow’s Basics: Hierarchy of Needs
Beginning in the 1940’s, Maslow developed a classification system reflecting the universal needs of society, starting with the very basic, through five steps proceeding to higher growth and emotional needs.

The hierarchy is often represented in pyramid form, basic needs at the bottom. With basic needs met, human motivation and progress can continue. [Especially for visual learners (like me), here is a link to see Maslow’s pyramid, with the ascending levels clearly labeled.’s_hierarchy_of_needs]

You will see the large bottom level devoted to deficiency needs. The deficiency needs are basic, needing to be satisfied before one can progress to fulfilling individuation and social needs.

Physiological Needs (food, water, shelter, sleep, etc) need to be met, satisfied and stable before a person progresses to higher levels      
Safety Needs (health, personal, emotional, and financial security)
Belongingness and Love (intimate relationships and friends)
Esteem Needs (feelings of accomplishment, prestige)
Self-Actualization (achieving one’s full potential, creative activities)

[There is an interesting updated version, theorizing that some of the higher stages overlap. You can see this clearly illustrated at the site linked above.]

To be sure, Maslow’s conceptualization has criticisms. However, I believe his framework provides a basis for people and couples to understand basic fundamental needs, to bring stability, growth and peace to families during these roller coaster times.

Some Encouragement

As you try making sense of the life you and your families are experiencing, you are not alone, you are not crazy. You are providing stability for your family; facing two turbulent, typhoon creating storms at the same time.

1) Adaptation to global pandemics causing unprecedented and monumental change in social, educational, employment, medical, political, governmental systems.
2) Plowing through uncharted headwaters into the long forecasted evolution from industrial age to our current age of technology and service.

You will be known as “Millennial Pioneers” to your children and future generations. I am proud to share life experiences with you!

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