Personal Authority via Termination of the Intergenerational Hierarchical Boundary: A “New” Stage in the Family Life Cycle


  • Donald S. Williamson

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    • *Donald S. Williamson, PhD, is a faculty member at the Houston-Galveston Family Institute, Suite 1200, Fannin Bank Building, Houston, Texas 77030.


This paper proposes a stage in the family life cycle, occurring in the fourth decade of life, the goal of which is to terminate the hierarchical boundary between the adult client and the older parents. This requires a radical renegotiation of the power structures in the relationships between the two generations, and in the interactional political patterns which ensue from these. The essence of the process is a redistribution of power in the direction of equality, with the intention of establishing a peer relationship between the first and second generations in the three generational family cycle. This experience is understood to be power politics at the source.