A family crisis is caused by stress that develops through the occurrence of a common event, such as birth or unemployment, or because of unusual events like a hurricane or a house fire. The theme in family crisis events is change. A family situation either improves or deteriorates following crisis, but change is always involved.
The severity of the crisis depends on how the event is perceived by the family. In other words, according to Reuben Hill, it depends on how the crisis tends to "create a hardship, deplete family resources or run contrary to family member goals." Shifting roles of responsibility within a family during crisis often reveal unrecognized strengths and abilities. For example, a father finds he really enjoys the domestic role he provides for his children while his wife is away from home visiting her parents.
When a child enters school for the first time, enters puberty or leaves home for college, these events create stress for the family because they involve change. Families are required to adjust the house rules, establish stricter bedtimes or enforce curfews. The family may be disorganized for a time, but resilience occurs more rapidly in families that have strong, interactive relationships.