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The Family, 5th Edition

A Christian Perspective on the Contemporary Home

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Covering the wide array of issues that affect family life, The Family is a proven comprehensive resource for studying this most established of human institutions. This important study has been in print for over thirty years and is well known among college and seminary faculty, pastors, and Christian counselors. It is widely used in sociology, social work, marriage, and family classes around the country.

This new edition is updated throughout with discussions of recent family-related issues. It includes a new chapter on work and family balance and a new section on the increasing role grandparents take in parental responsibilities.

This book is accompanied by free online resources. Click the red eSources banner above for more information.


Part 1: Theological and Social Perspectives on Family Life
1. A Theological Foundation for Family Relationships: Developing a Theology of the Family
2. The Family as a Developing Biosocial System
Part 2: Marriage: The Foundation of Family Life
3. Mate Selection and Cohabitation: Romance and Reality
4. Establishing Marriage: Moving toward Differentiated Unity
5. A Model for Biblical Marriage
Part 3: The Expansion of Family Life: Parenting and Beyond
6. Parenting: The Process of Relationship Empowerment
7. Developing a Mature, Reciprocating Self
8. Family Spirituality: Nurturing Christian Beliefs, Morals, and

9. Adolescence and Midlife: Challenging Changes
10. The Joys and Challenges of Family in Later Life
Part 4: Gender and Sexuality: Identity in Family Life
11. Changing Gender Roles and Relations: The Impact on Family

12. Becoming an Authentic Sexual Self
Part 5: Communication: The Heart of Family Life
13. Intimate Communication: Expressing Love and Anger
Part 6: The Social Dynamics of Family Life
14. Work and the Family: Conflict or Collaboration?
15. Through the Stress and Pain of Family Life
16. Divorce and Single-Parent
17. Complex Families in Contemporary Society
Part 7: Family Life in Postmodern Society
18. Biblical Family Values in a Modern and Postmodern World
19. Creating a Family-Friendly


"Jack Balswick, Judith Balswick, and Thomas Frederick have masterfully pulled together up-to-date and easy-to-access information that makes this resource mandatory for any student, pastor, or Christian leader that aspires to minister to the family. The reader will find an engaging and productive conversation about today's family, beginning with foundational concepts, statistical realities, and foundational theological perspectives on the family."

Sharon Hargrave, executive director, Boone Center for the Family, Pepperdine University; affiliated professor, Fuller Theological Seminary

"In this latest edition of the classic text, the Balswicks and Frederick prepare a full dining experience, serving the favorite dishes of clinicians, ministers, and academics alike, and all are invited. Come hungry for a theological and empirical reflection on the Christian institution of the family, and prepare to leave with a doggie bag. Whether you are a new student or tenured professor, a practitioner or scholar, you will find something appetizing within their extensive menu on family life--systemic, developmental, and trinitarian reflections. Don't be surprised if you become a regular at this restaurant. Dress is casual and no academic blazers are required to enjoy fine dining at The Family."

Jonathan Impellizzeri, director of the Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling Program, Geneva College; clinical director, Cognitive Behavior Institute

"The Balswicks and Tom Frederick have done the unthinkable, making an extraordinary resource even broader and deeper in its fifth iteration. The range of coverage and theological heft of this book make it an ideal textbook across a number of different courses and disciplines. Specifically, their work outlining the Trinity as a model of personal and familial connection and differentiation have formed my own thinking as a professor and person of faith. I cannot recommend this book more highly."

Lisa Hosack, associate professor of social work, Grove City College; author of Development on Purpose

"For more than twenty years I have been teaching a course at Asbury Seminary focused on family development and discipleship. It has been one of my favorite courses to teach because it operates at the intersection of the personal lives of students and strategic ministry investments. Imperative to teaching such a class has been finding authors that ground these tasks theologically while offering students a solid and usable conceptual framework for building an approach to family ministry and interventions. I started using The Family from Jack and Judith Balswick when it was in its second edition and have used it ever since as the foundational textbook for the class. This fifth edition, enhanced with psychological insights that Tom Frederick curates from his own research and teaching, continues to offer the trustworthy guidance students need, with enhanced, research-based findings addressing such contemporary issues as work-family balance, cohabitation, differentiation and vocation, and grandparenting. For me, this remains the gold standard for teaching family ministry in the historic Christian tradition!"

Chris Kiesling, professor of human development and Christian discipleship, Asbury Theological Seminary

"This updated edition of The Family: A Christian Perspective on the Contemporary Home presents recent research to continue the important contribution of this book to our thinking about families from a distinctly Christian viewpoint. It's based on a systemic developmental perspective that captures the reality of our relationships in our families across the life span, with a special focus on the attributes of grace, empowerment, and intimacy within Christian covenantal love that can permeate those relationships and impact the larger social environment."

Mark Stanton, professor of psychology, Azusa Pacific University

"Jack Balswick, Judith Balswick, and Thomas Frederick present a Christian perspective on the significance and purpose of the contemporary family. Through a unique blend of biblical theology, systems theory, and the social sciences, they address the many facets of the modern-day family relative to marriage, parenting, sexuality, communication, and the social dynamics of family life. As a teaching professor in the Christian academic setting, I have used the earlier editions of this extraordinary text for both graduate and undergraduate classes in marriage and family studies. In addition, as a licensed marriage and family therapist, I have found the biblical and theoretical concepts helpful and applicable. I greatly recommend this book to instructors, students, counselors, or pastors who are seeking to develop an overarching theological and sociological framework for the family."

Brad Overholser, chair of human development, Hope International University

"The reason for the longevity and influence of Balswick and Balswick's The Family is based in two things: the clarity of their writing on topics of interest to the Christian community and their engagement with recent scholarship. This fifth edition of what is now a standard text on family life continues this pattern of thoughtful Christian scholarship. The result is a stimulating text whose relevance extends beyond the classroom to the front lines of Christian engagement with families, whether it be in a clinical, parachurch, or congregational setting."

Kelvin Mutter, associate professor of counselling and spiritual care, McMaster Divinity College

"The Family is a unique resource in the study of marriage and family: it adeptly integrates theology with sociological perspectives and proven family therapy models. I highly recommend this text for marriage and family studies in Christian colleges and universities and can personally attest to how helpful it's been to both educators and students alike."

Yvonne Thai, chair of the Department of Behavioral Sciences and professor of sociology, California Baptist University Online and Professional Studies

The Authors

  1. Jack O. Balswick

    Jack O. Balswick

    Jack O. Balswick (PhD, University of Iowa) is senior professor of sociology and family development at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.

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  2. Judith K. Balswick

    Judith K. Balswick

    Judith K. Balswick (EdD, University of Georgia) is senior professor of marital and family therapy at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.

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  3. Thomas V. Frederick

    Thomas V. Frederick

    Thomas V. Frederick (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is professor of psychology and director of the Master's in Counseling Psychology Program at California Baptist University, Riverside, California.

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