Hierarchical relationship development: Parents and children

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Child growth and development occur in hierarchical relationships. In our attempt to work more collaboratively, family therapists have neglected to work toward developing theory that guides our work in such hierarchical relationships. This article describes a method for understanding child and relational growth. It builds on Wynne's (1984) epigenetic model of relational systems by integrating his model of family development with Bateson's (1958) concepts of complementarity and symmetry. Wynne 's model defines a process for understanding the stages of relationship development, and Bateson articulates the process of change within a relationship. Utilizing principles from both theorists, this paper proposes that parent-child complementary relationships mature through Wynne's developmental stages via symmetrical struggles, and that these symmetrical struggles are necessary ingredients in the development of the relationships as well as of the individuals within those relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-510
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of marital and family therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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