How Families Operate at Each Stage

A major aspect of who you are is a result of the family you grew up in—your family of origin. The principles of Stage Climbing can explain much about your family and your own default stage in almost any area of your life. See what resonates most for you as we explore how families operate by the stages:

  • Stage One―Family members often are extremely enmeshed with each other and feel unable to face the outside world with even a minimal degree of competence or independence.
  • Stage Two―Deception, anger, abuse (can be emotional, physical, and/or sexual), or extreme hedonism without regard for consequences are the staples of this highly dysfunctional family environment.
  • Stage Three―Family is run rigidly and with an “iron hand” by a tough matriarch/patriarch in an authoritarian manner where stereotypical roles are unquestioned. Respect is demanded, but not necessarily earned. Strict and sometimes severe punishment is mandated for failing to meet the often-stern expectations. Children usually go into the line of work and adopt lifestyles that are expected of them more out of guilt, fear, and lack of reflection (i.e., without even considering other alternatives) than by choice … Family members are sometimes ostracized or labeled “black sheep “as a punishment for not “toeing the line” or for failing to fit in.
  • Stages 4―When functioning well, members who are headed by a benevolent matriarch/patriarch serve to validate each other. When dysfunctional, self-esteem and self-confidence are unwittingly weakened. Children who witness a lot of anxious behavior throughout their formative years are especially vulnerable to a variety of anxious reactions and anxiety disorders that result from this environment … Approval and validation is often withdrawn or withheld as punishment.
  •  Stage Five―When each member is functioning well in his/her family role, the family thrives. Problems occur when a member deviates from the family norm for a reason that is not clear to the other members (e.g., when siblings of similar ages are in different stages or children function at higher stages than their parents or other elders, etc.).
  • Stage Six―The whole is greater than the sum of its parts … Family is held together with love and respect … Family members support each other’s passions, strengths, ambitions, and personal growth. They encourage each other to stay on the path to their highest potential.
  • Stage Seven―Family shares deep (often spiritual) values and is guided by both love and strong principles of service both inside and outside of the family or “tribe”… Children are carefully and lovingly guided by example and through experience to be strong, respectful, empathetic, and highly decent individuals.

When operating as a family unit from the target stages, it’s obvious that every member benefits on a long-term basis. What changes―whether major ones or small tweaks―can bring different aspects of how you relate as a family to those target stages? Often, simply the awareness of certain blind spots and alternatives to them can trigger a major breakthrough where one is needed. The best news of all is that once you see the connection, you can use Stage Climbing strategies to reverse any “damage”, by removing problematic hooks and raising your default stage in a given area of your life.