At some point prior to their children turning 18, roughly 70% of mothers will hold the position of breadwinner in their family. The increasing number of breadwinning mothers is reflective of the shifting roles of women in families. Although a family role shift is evident for mothers, the centrality of women in the development of families across the lifespan remains unchanged. The centrality of mothers to family development is obvious in the family life cycle. Embedded in the traditional family structure, the family life cycle is a commonly used assessment model for family lifespan development despite its incongruence with professional counseling ethics and curriculum standards. The incongruence highlights the need for a family development model appropriate for diverse family structures. Therefore, a pilot case study approach guided this study as an initial exploration into the family development of high achieving women. An in-depth semi-structured interview with a single participant was conducted and then analyzed using a phenomenological approach. Four themes emerged from the participant's experience: self-efficacy and hustle, supportive relationships, resources used, and barriers faced. The findings from this study demonstrated a clear need for additional research. Additionally, the researcher recommends that counselor educators and family counselors should be cautious in their utilization of existing family development assessment models with diverse families.


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Date of publication

Spring 2024



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Counseling Commons