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This book deals with ways of helping families cope with the difficulty of rais­ ing adolescents. Professional social workers - along with other human ser­ vice professionals - encounter these families in numerous settings: child welfare and family service agencies, hospitals, schools, community mental health clinics, residential treatment centers, juvenile halls and detention centers, recreational and vocational training organizations, and many others. While families from all walks of life may be found in these settings, families who have suffered the additional stresses of poverty, discrimination, and the consequences of physical and mental illness are commonly overrepresented. Even under the best of circumstances, the adolescent years often put the strongest family structures to the test - sometimes to the breaking point. A recent national study of over one thousand average, middle-income, two­ parent families reviewed the strengths, stresses, and satisfactions of the family life cycle (Olson and McCubbin 1983). As many would expect, families with adolescents were found to experience more stress and lower levels of family adaptability, cohesion, and marital and family satisfaction than any other developmental stage. The families with adolescents who fared best were those with such marital resources as good communication and conflict resolution skills, satisfying sexual relations, and good parent-adolescent communication.

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