Family Life Education: Principles and Practices for Effective Outreach


Stephen F. Duncan & H. Wallace Goddard

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  • Subject Index
  • Part I: Foundations of Family Life Education

    Part II: Development of Family Life Education Programs

    Part III: Implementing Family Life Education Programs

    Part IV: Content and Contexts for Family Life Education

    Part V: Promoting, Marketing, and Sustaining Fle Programs

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    Family life educators are found in many settings. Much important family life education (FLE) is done in school and university classrooms. This book is designed as a practical yet scholarly how-to volume for a different set of family life educators: those who work outside a traditional classroom setting. The broad goal of this book is to help upper division and graduate students who are preparing to be family life educators as well as FLE professionals who serve on the front lines. This book is intended to develop and enhance the knowledge and skills needed to take family life education principles to citizens where they live and work. To this end, we have tried to incorporate some of the leading scholarship with years of our own professional experiences, to provide a scholarly yet practical guide for the family life education professional and professional-to-be.

    This book is based on the assumption that there are specialized skills and knowledge a family life educator needs to succeed with the general public, those persons who are not likely to return to college to learn about family life. The needs and motivations of this audience usually differ from the traditional family science college or high school students. For example, it is known that adult education audiences are more likely to be motivated by a personal or family need (e.g., see Knowles, 1998). In addition, venues for family life education outside the traditional classroom vary greatly, from radio broadcasts and newsletters to home visits and workplace training. Thus, for family life educators to succeed in the business of educating the public requires a somewhat different skill set than teaching students in traditional classroom settings. This book is intended to arm students and professionals with practical, educational experiences in their college curriculum and continuing education to become more effective ambassadors of family science scholarship to citizens of the world.

    Various works have been published on family life education prior to the current volume. The comprehensive Handbook of Family Life Education, Vols. 1 and 2, published in 1993 and edited by Margaret Arcus, Jay Schvaneveldt, and Joel Moss, provided solid coverage of the scholarship and practice of family life education to that date. These volumes clarified many issues and raised questions that have spawned research and theory in family life education. These volumes provide a strong academic treatment of family life education with leanings toward college-level family life education. They are more oriented toward basic scholarship than practical application.

    A more recent work, titled Family Life Education: An Introduction, published in 2001 (with a second edition published in 2007) and written by Lane Powell and Dawn Cassidy, updates several of the content areas of the Handbook volumes and provides many useful ideas as a solid primer for the practice of family life education.

    Family Life Education: Principles and Practices for Effective Outreach is the first book on family life education to combine both the scholarly foundation and the practical how-tos for successfully carrying out family life education outside a traditional classroom setting. We have tried to improve upon and extend this focus in this second edition.

    A comprehensive, scholarly, yet practical how-to text has been needed in the field for a long time, both to train upper division and graduate-level students how to do family life education as well as to strengthen professionals already in the field. Thus far, many have been consigned to learn the principles and practices of effective family life education through limited university training or the crucible of experience alone.

    Family Life Education: Principles and Practices for Effective Outreach had its genesis when we generated a topical outline collected from our professional experiences as Cooperative Extension specialists in four states. We also drew on the experience of colleagues across the country. We have continued to draw on this experience as we updated and crafted additional materials for this edition.

    The book is organized into five parts and 18 chapters, including 5 new chapters, followed by appendices. The first part, Foundations of Family Life Education, lays the foundation for effective outreach work by discussing the historical and philosophical underpinnings of current outreach family life education, guiding readers to develop their own FLE philosophy and role as an FLE. The second part, Development of Family Life Education Programs, includes chapters that present an integrated framework for developing comprehensive prevention programs and approaches for evaluating such programs. The third part, Implementing Family Life Education Programs, includes several chapters to help readers learn principles and methods for teaching the lay audience, including designing effective instruction, engaging an audience, teaching skills and tools, and working with diverse audiences. The fourth part, Content and Contexts for Family Life Education, includes four new content chapters on education for personal well-being, marriage and relationship education, parenting education, and sexuality education. It also adds three additional contexts chapters detailing how to do family life education in settings other than traditional workshop teaching, such as using Internet technology, traditional and social networking media, and writing for the lay audience. The final part, Promoting, Marketing, and Sustaining FLE Programs, contains chapters to assist the reader to learn principles and practices for forming effective collaborations and marketing family life principles, practices, and programs. The book concludes with a new “Narratives of Family Life Educators” chapter, providing a window into family life education through the experiences of several currently practicing FLEs, and an improving practice in family life education chapter, designed to highlight the needs of future research and practice in family life education. Each chapter includes an “Explorations” section at the end, designed as a real-life application of the chapter material.

    We appreciate and acknowledge contributing authors Susan Calahan, author of Chapter 11 on sexuality education; Steven Dennis and Aaron Ebata, authors of Chapter 12 on technology; and Tonya Fischio, author of Chapter 13 on media. We also express appreciation to Heidi Stolz, author of Chapter 10 on parenting, and Alan Hawkins for his contribution to Chapter 9 on marriage and relationship education. We are indebted to these colleagues for generously sharing their expertise.

    We acknowledge also the individuals who provided critical reviews of the first edition. These individuals provided many helpful insights that led to important additions that made this second edition a better product for our intended audiences. We express gratitude to Kassie Graves of Sage for her support throughout the development of this book. Her encouragement has helped us keep on track. We also thank the following reviewers:

    Cassandra Chaney, Louisiana State University

    Jennifer M. Crosswhite, University of Nebraska at Kearney

    Wm. Michael Fleming, University of Northern Iowa

    Charles B. Hennon, Miami University

    Sally M. McCombie, Indiana University of PA

    Maresa J. Murray, Indiana University

    Cheryl M. Robinson, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

    Carolyn S. Wilken, University of Florida

    We thank you, the reader, who is committed to helping families in your sphere of influence to live more satisfying and loving family lives. We wish you every success in your family life education pursuits.

    Finally, we express appreciation to loving and supportive family members, particularly our wives, Barbara and Nancy, whose constant encouragement is always a major factor in any of our worthy accomplishments.

    SteveDuncan and WallyGoddard
  • Appendix A: A Statement of Principles

    H. WallaceGoddard and Charles A.Smith

    This appendix is quite different from the chapters in this book. While all the chapters amass the scholarly thinking and evidence behind certain practices, this appendix lists, describes, and applies a set of principles. These principles are much like assumptions. They may fit with the informed good sense of many scholars and practitioners, but we do not undertake to prove them. We suggest that they be used as discussion points in clarifying thinking or developing programs. In considering program coverage and recommendations, the principles can act as a helpful guide.

    For example, when outlining a program for teen parents, planners might examine this list of principles. They might identify those with special application to the specific audience and objectives of the program. They might consider how to honor all the principles in the process of developing the program. The same kind of reflection might be done in designing activities for the program.

    The principles can also guide our own development and professional practice. We must grow if we are to help those we serve to grow. Consider those areas where you would like to make greater application of principles in your practice of family life education (FLE).

    The Principle of Order: Behavior has Predictable Consequences

    Elaboration: The laws of nature and the laws of relationships follow systematic principles. By working with the laws, we get the outcomes we seek. A farmer who fails to provide wise and consistent attention to his crops is likely to harvest more weeds than grain.

    Marriage example: A couple that tries to operate over the years on initial infatuation without continued investments of understanding and connection is likely to drift apart. A person who chooses to blame is likely to experience alienation.

    Parenting example: Children who do not have a close personal relationship with at least one adult who talks to them, loves them, and respects them as special people are likely to grow up emotionally and socially limited. It is important for children's development that there be adults who interact positively with them.

    FLE application: Family members who fail to gain knowledge and act deliberately are likely to have more family problems than if they seek information and act intentionally. To affect outcomes, it is important to understand the laws of development and apply them. Family life educators can appeal to people's intuitive sense of this law in marketing programs by asking, “Do you want your family outcomes to be left to chance?”

    The Principle of Empathy: A Fundamental Act of Caring is Taking Time to Look at the World Through Another Person's Eyes

    Elaboration: Our fundamental separateness as humans cannot be overcome without the effort to understand the feelings and unique experiences of those we care about. A fundamental act of hostility or indifference is to fail to see or try to see the world from another person's perspective.

    Marriage example: It is common in marriage to interpret partner behavior based on its effect on us. Until we take time to discover what that behavior means to the partner, we do not understand our partner and cannot respond helpfully.

    Parenting example: When a child comes home from school feeling humiliated by a bad experience, we can increase our intimacy and show support for the child by taking time to understand what that experience means to the child. The parent begins with “Tell me what happened” and follows by restating the child's experience in words that lets the child know that the parent can relate to the child's experience.

    FLE application: This principle not only undergirds the content of much FLE but is vital in the delivery of FLE. Participants can be expected to respond more positively to facilitators who are compassionate and understanding. The same principle may be applied in dealings with ourselves. When we interpret our own lapses in patient, empathic ways, we are less likely to get discouraged (see Seligman, 1991).

    The Principle of Agency: People are Free to Make Choices

    Elaboration: No one can make a person think, feel, and usually even act in ways contrary to that person's choices. A person's choices can be better understood by knowing the past but are not bounded or dictated by what has gone on before.

    Marriage example: A partner's anger does not require our reaction in kind. We can choose to be reflective, understanding, and helpful rather than angry, resentful, or spiteful.

    Parenting example: Parents can help children recognize their options and make choices based on their values rather than thoughtless, automatic reactions.

    FLE application: Much of FLE—and self-help in general—invites participants to make choices. One way humans create problems for themselves is by telling themselves victim stories in which they suffer at the hands of others. Another is to create villain stories in which other people are especially bad and take away our power of choice. A third kind of story is helpless stories, where we see ourselves as powerless.

    There is some truth in all of these stories. We do suffer from other people's misdeeds. We do work with some people who are very difficult. We do not have complete control of our experience.

    But the key to growth in any setting—family, community, or work—is using the power we do have. Rather than feeding the monster stories that make us—or those we serve—feel powerless, hopeless, and resentful, we can identify our space for action and act within it (see Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, & Switzler, 2002).

    The Principle of Momentum: The Pattern of One Life is Defined by the Accumulation of Choices

    Elaboration: Patterns of choices have a cumulative effect. Some choices are made more difficult because of a pattern of previous choices. The person who has often chosen anger as the reaction to differences of opinion may find that reaction becoming automatic.

    Marriage example: The emotional bank account is a good example of the principle of momentum. Those partners who consistently invest in the relationship through acts of thoughtfulness, kindness, and consideration will have an account balance superior to those who make only sporadic deposits or regular (or periodic) withdrawals.

    Parenting example: Children can be taught to be aware of momentum. One small act of kindness can lead to another, and then to another, until kindness becomes interwoven in the pattern of a person's life.

    FLE application: A participant in a workshop may be very discouraged at the difficulty of a new approach. The new skill can be compared to a new language. It may be learned slowly and used imperfectly but, persisted at, can become natural over time. Some family life educators recommend overlearning, that is, practicing a new skill until it becomes automatic (see Gottman, 1994). This is a way to develop momentum in a different, more helpful direction.

    The Principle of Loss: Sometimes the Best Choice to Sustain and Affirm Life Requires Risk or Sacrifice

    Elaboration: It is easy to suppose that good choices are always easy. That is not always true. Good usually entails some cost. For example, the willingness to stand up for principles may entail the loss of certain friendships.

    Marriage example: Some people avoid close relationships because of the risk of being hurt. The fact is that we can limit our risk and manage our investment, but in so doing, we limit the potential for growth and intimacy.

    Parenting example: Close relationships are based on the willingness to give and share with another person. One loses, or risks losing, something in order to gain something even more important—the respect and affection of another person. When parents allow children time to tie their shoes on their own, parents are slowed down. When a parent allows a teen the opportunity to drive the family car, the parent risks damage to the car and injury to an inexperienced driver.

    FLE application: It can actually be reassuring to participants that there is risk in undertaking new skills. “No one does this perfectly. We all goof up more or less often.” In a counterintuitive finding by Wilson and Linville (1982), students who were told that it was normal to experience some failure as they adjusted to a new process (in their case, university education) actually performed better than those who were not told. It can be reassuring that failure does not signal unique stupidity or ineptitude. It may only mean that we are learning and growing.

    Principle of Integrity: Acting Consistent with Internal Principles of Right and Wrong and Out of Compassion for All Life Builds Healthy Relationships

    Elaboration: A sense of right and wrong is the accumulated wisdom of experience with life. The key is to put these moral concepts into action and monitor their application in terms of how they affect oneself and others.

    Marriage example: A man who tells his wife he loves her and works to show his love in his actions toward her is likely to have a strong relationship with her.

    Parenting example: Parents may emphasize the importance of consistency between what their children say and do. If children, for example, say they will or will not do something, they are obligated by integrity to follow through consistently. In a similar way, when parents make a promise to a child, parents assume the obligation to do as they said, no matter how challenging it might prove to be.

    FLE application: Participants who are evaluating any particular course of action in family life might consider two questions: “Is this action likely to get me what I want? Does this action show respect for the other people involved?” According to Hoffman (2000), humans can develop an internalized concern for others when they are treated with empathy and taught to understand the feelings of others. We can invite participants to draw on their own inner voices of compassion by asking, “What do you feel best about? In your heart, what do you think would show respect for that person?”

    The Principle of Movement: Life is Movement

    Elaboration: Short of cryogenic freezing, humans do not hold still. Life cannot be captured in a shadow box. People move actively toward one set of goals or another. The key is to move briskly and wisely toward carefully chosen goals. To stop growing is to die.

    Marriage example: Relationships do not coast to bliss. Failure to invest in a relationship entails moving toward other goals, whether they are as vacuous as television watching or as demanding as career development. In any case, we move either toward or away from each other.

    Parenting example: Children are growing and changing every day. Knowing a child means rediscovering him or her afresh in each encounter.

    FLE application: It is popular to observe that the only constant is change. In FLE, we can teach people to use change as an ally rather than an enemy. Some of the difficulties in children (colic, diapers, and tantrums) will be outgrown with a little patience and perspective. Some of the difficulties in marriage (severely limited resources, tiredness) pass if we are patient. Rather than let today's discontents become the theme of our family story, we can learn to move forward while watching for sunnier weather (see Gottman, 1994).

    The Principle of Goodness: There is an Inclination in the Human Spirit toward Life-Sustaining Behavior

    Elaboration: Healthy human beings fight to protect and preserve life. Healthy human beings flinch at the sight of suffering and waste. While decay is real, so also is the drive toward goodness, connection, and growth.

    Marriage example: There are strong survival instincts that partners have for their relationship. When those instincts are swamped by despair and hopelessness, the relationship may end. However, even when discouragement is strong, the flames of hope can be fanned into new warmth, especially when determination is joined with fresh ideas.

    Parenting example: Young children smile and reach out during the first months of life. The parent can encourage that inclination by responding warmly and sensitively to the child.

    FLE application: Some scholars have argued that inborn empathy is the basis of moral development (see Hoffman, 1983). If that is true, there is a solid basis for believing that humans can learn to live together. Family members who learn perspective taking may be able to move beyond competitive thinking to cooperative efforts. Family life educators who show compassion for participants can help participants show compassion to other family members (see Chapter 6 in this volume and Maddux, 2002).

    The Principle of Chaos: The World is not Always Tidy

    Elaboration: It is wise to make allowances for imperfection and untidiness in life and relationships. Expecting Hollywood endings in all life struggles sets a person up for disappointment.

    Marriage example: We never know our partners completely. We never work together perfectly. There are irresolvable differences in every relationship. Insisting on perfection guarantees disappointment. Accepting differences, even unpleasant ones, encourages more peace and better cooperation.

    Parenting example: As we work with children, we make allowances for the inconvenience and challenge of living with little people who will not fit tidily into our adult schedules. Parents who adjust their schedules and expectations in order to synchronize with their children will find greater harmony and growth. Also, despite our good intentions and best efforts, some problems will remain.

    FLE application: There certainly is untidiness in FLE. Many participants do not understand (or do not accept) our recommendations or may implement them imperfectly. Any growth is incremental. Family life educators are wise to calibrate expectations. It may be helpful to think about the whole context in which participants live and to acknowledge the challenges of change (for ideas on change processes, see Prochaska, Norcross, & DiClemente, 1994; for ideas about limits on human change, see Seligman, 1995).

    The Principle of Readiness for Change: Problems are Best Solved When Family Members are Mentally and Emotionally Ready to Grow and When Family Members are Feeling Safe and Valued

    Elaboration: True and enduring change cannot be achieved through physical or psychological force. Individual perspectives have to be respected and problems addressed at a time when those involved can listen, think, and learn. We cannot impose growth.

    Marriage example: Marital conflict is more likely when partners are tired, frustrated, unhappy, hungry, or upset. To attempt to address chronic marital differences when people are in such a state may be like trying to read the paper while sitting in a burning house. There is wisdom in approaching differences when we feel peaceful—when we are under the influence of our nobler nature.

    Parenting example: Children do not learn well or gladly when they are tired. Bedtime is not the best time to confront misbehavior and teach limits. Children learn best when they are alert and when we approach them with respect and kindness.

    FLE application: It is natural to use a medical model in working with participants in FLE. We diagnose their failings and make specific recommendations. The challenge in working with humans is that the focus on problems can make people feel discouraged or resistant. Seligman (2002) has challenged such medical approaches: “I do not believe that you should devote overly much effort to correcting your weaknesses. Rather, I believe that the highest success in living and the deepest emotional satisfaction comes from building and using your signature strengths” (p. 13). Participants in our FLE efforts may be helped more by appreciation and encouragement of their strengths than by incisive diagnosis of their shortcomings. At the very least, our positive relationship with participants provides us the trust capital that will make us better change agents when participants are prepared to change.

    The Principle of Discovery: There are Always More Possibilities than Our Personal Experiences Suggest

    Elaboration: No one person has sufficient experience to know everything about a problem. No one person can see all points of view. That is why it is vital for us to learn from each other.

    Marriage example: Many couple conflicts involve imposing our personal “musts” on the relationship. “We must get up early.” “We must celebrate the holidays elaborately.” “We must have a large house.” When we are truly open to other people's experiences and perspectives, we discover many roads leading to growth, intimacy, and satisfaction.

    Parenting example: Rather than dictate behavior to children, we can help them discover options. Children should not be flooded with more choices than they can process. But they can be helped to discover multiple pathways through life. In addition, there are many different ways to successfully raise a child.

    FLE application: If the only valued tools in an FLE experience are those held by the facilitator, there are likely to be many problems that don't get fixed. The most capable family life educators draw on the life experience and creative thinking of the participants. Each participant brings a unique set of tools and perceptions.

    The Principle of Synergy: When We Act Together, We Discover Possibilities That None of Us Would Discover Alone

    Elaboration: When people turn from proving they are right to working toward joint possibilities, they often discover remarkable options. Our differences have important clues to guide our growth and discovery. When we work alone, we limit our reach.

    Marriage example: For vacation, he wants to go fishing with the kids. She wants to visit her mother. They can fight about the virtue of their respective preferences. Or, working together, they can discover a better way. Maybe he will find a fishing hole near her mother's place. Maybe she will visit her mom at a different time. There are surprising possibilities when we join creative forces.

    Parenting example: Even when parents feel that they cannot allow a child to participate in a certain activity, they can ask the child to suggest alternatives. They can join the child in exploring possibilities. “What would be an activity that we might both feel good about?” The principle of synergy suggests that making children our partners makes for more successful problem solving.

    FLE application: This is the 3rd Space concept that is discussed in Chapter 7, “Working With Diverse Audiences.” It is also the concept effectively popularized by Stephen R. Covey (1989). Those who are not bounded by their own poverty of options but who effectively draw on the wealth of possibilities in the group are likely to be effective family life educators.

    The Principle of Legacy: Our Ultimate Well-Being Depends on Making an Investment in others

    Elaboration: Under the sway of the self-esteem movement, many have determined to meet their own needs at all costs. The self becomes the standard of judgment. Yet generativity and integrity in life depend on the investments we make in other people and in relationships. When we live only for ourselves, we never discover the satisfactions that come from service.

    Marriage example: Rather than see marriage as a partnership where two relatively autonomous adults share some part of their lives as long as it is profitable, we can see marriage as the place where flawed and imperfect people commit to join and help each other in a journey. Marriage can be more than a convenient and pragmatic partnership; it can be a commitment to being together, growing together, and serving together. In serving we grow.

    Parenting example: When children are involved in service, they are less likely to have serious adjustment problems. Children can be involved in helping others in many ways. In the early years, they may join their parents in visiting the sick, elderly, or lonely. As they get older, they may contribute their own energy and talents to improving life for those in their circle of experience who are in need.

    FLE application: Erikson (1963) recognized generativity as one of the great accomplishments of adulthood. While many participants will come to FLE with some measure of sorrow and disappointment, we can invite them to “find the glory in their [family] story” (Gottman, 1994, p. 224). Perhaps they have not triumphed, but certainly they have grown. In fact, Gottman recommends several ways that couples can strengthen their futures by celebrating the best of the past.

    The Principle of Evil: There is Potential for Evil in People

    Elaboration: To ignore evil is to be unprepared for the challenges of life. Each of us can be forgiven for an occasional self-serving pursuit of personal goals. None of us is totally selfless. Some individuals, though, twisted by harmful conditions during their formative years, have made the choice to commit themselves to self-serving goals, destructive behavior, and indifference to human suffering. Although not inherently “evil,” children who are not treasured, nurtured, and loved can become inhumane. Even though individuals with this destructive personality are a distinct minority, their presence has to be acknowledged and understood.

    Marriage example: Partners in a relationship can cherish each other knowing that there is an element of danger in the world. Their marriage can provide solace and comfort and provide a secure base for managing any threats to family well-being.

    Parenting example: In the absence of active, committed adults in their lives, children are not likely to develop their potential for compassion and caring. They may even become brutish and heartless.

    FLE application: Some people have suffered in ways that make immediate growth through FLE unlikely. They may need help getting unstuck. Wise family life educators learn when to refer participants to mental health professionals (see Doherty, 1995).


    Create a set of principles to which you subscribe. The principles may be modified from this list or be a very different set. Consider how the principles you have chosen or developed would guide your efforts as a family life educator in areas where you plan to work.

    Appendix B: Family Life Education Content Areas: Content and Practice Guidelines

    Families & Individuals in Societal Contexts

    An understanding of families and their relationships to other institutions, such as the educational, governmental, religious, and occupational institutions in society.

    Research and theories related to: Structures and Functions; Cultural Variations (family heritage, social class, geography, ethnicity, race & religion); Dating, Courtship, Marital Choice; Kinship; Cross-Cultural & Minority (understanding of lifestyles of minority families & the lifestyles of families in various societies around the world); Changing Gender Roles (role expectations & behaviors of courtship partners, marital partners, parents & children, siblings, & extended kin); Demographic Trends; Historical Issues; Work/Leisure & Family Relationships; Societal Relations (reciprocal influence of the major social institutions & families, i.e., governmental, religious, educational, & economic).

    Practice—A CFLE is Prepared to
    • Identify the characteristics, diversity, & impact of local, national, & global social systems
    • Identify factors (e.g., media, marketing, technology, economics, social movements, natural disasters, war) influencing individuals & families from both contemporary & historical perspectives.
    • Identify factors that influence the relationship between work & family life
    • Identify social & cultural influences affecting dating, courtship, partner/marital choice & relationships, family composition, & family life
    • Recognize the reciprocal interaction between individuals, families, & various social systems (e.g., health, legal, educational, religious/spiritual)
    • Assess the impact of demographics (e.g., class, race, ethnicity, generation, gender) on contemporary families
    Internal Dynamics of Families

    An understanding of family strengths and weaknesses and how family members relate to each other.

    Research & theories related to: Internal Social Processes (including cooperation & conflict); Communication (patterns & problems in husband-wife relationships & in parent-child relationships, including stress & conflict management); Conflict Management; Decision-Making and Goal-Setting; Normal Family Stresses (transition periods in the family life cycle, three-generation households, caring for the elderly, & dual careers); Family Stress & Crises (divorce, remarriage, death, economic uncertainty & hardship, violence, substance abuse); Special Needs in Families (including adoptive, foster, migrant, low income, military, & blended families as well as those with disabled members).

    Practice—A CFLE is Prepared to
    • Recognize & define healthy & unhealthy characteristics pertaining to:
      • Family relationships
      • Family development
    • Analyze family functioning using various theoretical perspectives
    • Assess family dynamics from a systems perspective
    • Evaluate family dynamics in response to normative & non-normative stressors
    • Evaluate family dynamics in response to crises
    • Facilitate & strengthen communication processes, conflict-management, & problem-solving skills
    • Develop, recognize, & reinforce strategies that help families function effectively
    Human Growth & Development across the Life Span

    An understanding of the developmental changes (both typical and atypical) of individuals in families across the lifespan. Based on knowledge of physical, emotional, cognitive, social, moral, and personality aspects.

    Research and theories related to: Prenatal; Infancy; Early and Middle Childhood; Adolescence; Adulthood; Aging.

    A CFLE is Prepared to
    • Identify developmental stages, transitions, tasks, & challenges throughout the lifespan
    • Recognize reciprocal influences
      • Individual development on families
      • Family development on individuals
    • Recognize the impact of individual health & wellness on families
    • Assist individuals & families in effective developmental transitions
    • Apply appropriate practices based on theories of human growth & development to individuals & families
    Human Sexuality

    An understanding of the physiological, psychological, and social aspects of sexual development across the lifespan, so as to achieve healthy sexual adjustment.

    Research and theories related to: Reproductive Physiology; Biological Determinants; Emotional and Psychological Aspects of Sexual Involvement; Sexual Behaviors; Sexual Values & Decision-Making; Family Planning; Physiological & Psychological Aspects of Sexual Response; Influence of Sexual Involvement on Interpersonal Relationships.

    Practice—A CFLE is Prepared to
    • Recognize the biological aspects of human sexuality
      • sexual functioning
      • reproductive health
      • family planning
      • sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
    • Recognize the psycho-social aspects of human sexuality
      • characteristics of healthy & ethical sexual relationships
      • interpersonal dynamics of sexual intimacy
      • risk factors (e.g., substance abuse, social pressures, media)
    • Address human sexuality from a value-respectful position
    Interpersonal Relationships

    An understanding of the development and maintenance of interpersonal relationships.

    Research and theories related to: Self and Others; Communication Skills (listening, empathy, self-disclosure, decision making, problem-solving, and conflict resolution); Intimacy, Love, Romance; Relating to Others with Respect, Sincerity, & Responsibility.

    Practice—A CFLE is Prepared to
    • Recognize the impact of personality & communication styles
    • Recognize the developmental stages of relationships
    • Analyze interpersonal relationships using various theoretical perspectives
    • Develop & implement relationship enhancement & enrichment strategies
    • Develop & implement effective communication, problem-solving, & conflict management strategies
    • Communicate aspects of relationships within the context of their developmental stages
    Family Resource Management

    An understanding of the decisions individuals and families make about developing and allocating resources including time, money, material assets, energy, friends, neighbors, and space, to meet their goals.

    Research and theories related to: Goal Setting and Decision-Making; Development and Allocation of Resources; Social Environment Influences; Life Cycle and Family Structure Influences; Consumer Issues and Decisions.

    Practice—A CFLE is Prepared to
    • Identify personal, familial, professional, & community resources available to families
    • Recognize the reciprocal relationship between individual/family/ community choices & resources
    • Apply value-clarification strategies to decision-making
    • Apply goal-setting strategies & evaluate their outcomes
    • Apply decision-making strategies
    • Apply organizational & time management strategies
    • Apply basic financial management tools & principles
    • Inform individuals & families of consumer rights, responsibilities, & choices of action/advocacy
    • Apply stress management strategies
    Parenting Education & Guidance

    An understanding of how parents teach, guide, and influence children and adolescents as well as the changing nature, dynamics, and needs of the parent child relationship across the lifespan.

    Research and theories related to: Parenting Rights and Responsibilities; Parenting Practices/Processes; Parent/Child Relationships; Variation in Parenting Solutions; Changing Parenting Roles Across the Life Cycle.

    Practice—A CFLE is Prepared to
    • Promote healthy parenting from a systems perspective
    • Promote healthy parenting from a child's & parent's developmental perspective
    • Apply strategies based on the child's age/stage of development to promote effective developmental outcomes
    • Identify different parenting styles & their associated psychological, social, & behavioral outcomes
    • Promote various parenting models, principles, & strategies
    • Evaluate the effectiveness & appropriateness of various parenting strategies
    • Recognize various parenting roles (e.g., father/mother, grandparents, other caregivers) & their impact on and contribution to individuals & families
    • Recognize parenting issues within various family structures (e.g., single, blended, same-sex)
    • Recognize the impact of societal trends on parenting (e.g., technology, substance abuse, media)
    • Recognize the influence of cultural differences & diversity
    • Identify strategies to advocate for children in various settings (e.g., schools, legal system, healthcare)
    • Recognize the various pathways to parenting & their associated issues & challenges, (e.g., assisted reproduction, adoption, childbirth, blending)
    Family Law & Public Policy

    An understanding of legal issues, policies, and laws influencing the well being of families.

    Family and the Law (relating to marriage, divorce, family support, child custody, child protection and rights, and family planning); Family and Social Services; Family and Education; Family and the Economy; Family and Religion; Policy and the Family (public policy as it affects the family, including tax, civil rights, social security, economic support laws, and regulations).

    Practice—A CFLE is Prepared to
    • Identify current law, public policy, & initiatives that regulate & influence professional conduct & services
    • Identify current laws, public policies, & initiatives that affect families
    • Inform families, communities, & policy makers about public policies, initiatives, & legislation that affect families at local, state, & national levels
    Professional Ethics & Practice

    An understanding of the character and quality of human social conduct, and the ability to critically examine ethical questions and issues as they relate to professional practice.

    Research and theories related to: Formation of Social Attitudes and Values; Recognizing and Respecting the Diversity of Values and the Complexity of Value Choice in a Pluralistic Society; Examining Value Systems and Ideologies Systematically and Objectively; Social Consequences of Value Choices; Recognizing the Ethical Implications of Social and Technological Changes, Ethics of Professional Practice.

    Practice—A CFLE is Prepared to
    • Demonstrate professional attitudes, values, behaviors, & responsibilities to clients, colleagues, & the broader community, that are reflective of ethical standards & practice
    • Evaluate, differentiate, & apply diverse approaches to ethical issues & dilemmas
    • Identify & apply appropriate strategies to deal with conflicting values
    • Demonstrate respect for diverse cultural values & ethical standards
    Family Life Education Methodology

    An understanding of the general philosophy and broad principles of family life education in conjunction with the ability to plan, implement, and evaluate such educational programs.

    Research and theories related to: Planning and Implementing; Evaluation (materials, student progress, & program effectiveness); Education Techniques; Sensitivity to Others (to enhance educational effectiveness); Sensitivity to Community Concerns and Values (understanding of the public relations process).

    Practice—A CFLE is Prepared to
    • Employ a variety of current educational strategies
    • Employ techniques to promote application of information in the learner's environment
    • Create learning environments that are respectful of individual vulnerabilities, needs, & learning styles
    • Demonstrate sensitivity to diversity & community needs, concerns, & interests
    • Develop culturally-competent educational materials & learning experiences
    • Identify appropriate sources for evidence-based information
    • Develop educational experiences
      • needs assessments
      • goals & objectives
      • content development
      • implementation
      • evaluation/outcome measures
    • Promote & market educational programs
    • Implement adult education principles into work with families & parents
    • Establish and maintain appropriate personal and professional boundaries

    From the National Council on Family Relations (2009b). Family life education content areas: Content and practice guidelines. Retrieved April 21, 2010, from Used by permission.

    Appendix C: Family Life Education Program Resource Review Form

    Use this form to assess the level of quality of outreach family life education (FLE) resource materials, including curricula, videos/ DVDs, websites, and other resources. Not all items will apply equally to all resources.

    Reference Information




    Intended Audience. Please note the audience for which the resource is intended. (Check all that apply.)

    • Parents (Type_____)

      (Single, Step, Adoptive, Teenage, All, etc.)

    • Children (Age Range and/or Family Type)____
    • Married Couples
    • General Public
    • Other (Specify:________)

    Delivery Method. Indicate the type of resource. (Check all that apply.)

    • News release
    • Short brochure
    • Long brochure
    • Slide/video/DVD
    • Program curriculum
    • Website
    • Other___

    Ratings of the Resource. Please rate the educational resource on the following dimensions. Keep in mind the intended resource and the type of delivery method when making these ratings.

    Overall Evaluation of the Resource

    • This resource should not be used at all.

      (Describe the major problems.)

    • This resource would be useful with the following modifications.

      (Describe the needed modifications.)

    • This resource would be useful in the following circumstances and with the following audiences.

      (Describe circumstances and audiences.)

    SOURCE: Adapted from Hughes (1994, 1997).

    Appendix D: A Selection of Favorite Movie Clips for Family Life Education

    Marriage Preparation
    • Ever After (1998), “Is there only one perfect mate?” clip. This question is raised by Prince Henry to Leonardo da Vinci. Ask participants to think about the answer Leonardo gave the prince, how they would answer that question, and how researchers would answer that question. Do we have more guidance today about how to select a mate than they did in Leonardo's day? Is it better, worse, or just different?
    • Fiddler on the Roof (1971), “Do You Love Me” clip. Use to illustrate differences between perceptions and practices of marriage then (in Teyve's time) and now. Ask participants to think of examples of “married love” from the clip. Were there examples of commitment, devotion, service, and sacrifice? How did love manifest itself in the clip? How would you contrast to the manner that love is talked about nowadays?
    • Show scenes from Disney films, such as Cinderella (1950) and Sleeping Beauty (1959), where the heroines meet princes and fall instantly in love (with barely a “hello”) and are shown in the end marrying these men they hardly know and yet somehow “live happily ever after.” Discuss how the media and society can distort an appropriate understanding of marriage preparation and mate selection. Then show the video Fanny's Dream (2000), a very different fairy tale about marital happiness.
    • Show scenes from the film Runaway Bride (1999). Possible scenes: Richard Gere's “ideal proposal” acknowledging there will be challenges during married life; scenes where Richard Gere's character discovers Julia Robert's character's tendency to lose herself in relationships (shown by her egg “preferences”) and then the scene where she tries to discover her true self, including what kind of eggs she really likes.
    • UP (2009). This tender love story contains a wordless segment showing the evolution of a relationship over time, with early attraction, courtship, marriage, and, later on, handling tragedy and dealing with death. A nice discussion starter on how relationships can evolve over time and facing challenges together.
    Family Strength Building
    • Fiddler on the Roof (1971), “Tradition” clip. To illustrate the role traditions play in family unity, development of personal identity, and a sense of responsibility. This movie can also be used to demonstrate what can happen to families if traditions become so rigid that they lead to intolerance.
    • Show the scene from the film Les Misérables (1978) (with Anthony Perkins) where Bishop Bienvenu gives Jean Valjean the silver Jean had actually stolen from him in order to prevent Jean going back to prison. Discuss compassion with the class and its impact on people—those who are compassionate and those who receive their compassion. The most obvious effect on Jean was powerful and immediate—he would not return to prison. However, deeper results are likely as well. (Ask participants for their ideas as to what these could be.) For example, his faith in humankind was restored, his hope for the future was brightened, and he was blessed by the love he, no doubt, now felt for the bishop; he was essentially reborn to a new life of goodness and love rather than hate, anger, and violence. Discuss the sacrifice the bishop had to make in order to be compassionate. Discuss the relationship of this story to the need for love and compassion at home.
    • Show segments from Life Is Beautiful (1998) to depict family love and compassion. Examples include the husband picking flowers for his wife from cracks in sidewalks; the wife's devotion to her husband shown by her joining him in a concentration camp; although separated at the camp, the husband's efforts to communicate love by opening the window and playing her favorite song; the father's protection of his son by turning the concentration camp experience into a game.
    • The Incredibles (2004). Scene where Helen catches Bob as he sneaks back from playing “Superhero.” The couple begins to argue and conflict escalates, unknowingly in the presence of son Dash and daughter Violet. Good as a more lighthearted demonstration of escalation in communication, as well a door opener to talk about effects of escalation on children.
    • Mary Poppins (1964), “Grind at that Grindstone.” Show scenes to illustrate the importance of parental involvement with children and spending time together as a family. Show the scene where Bert (Dick Van Dyke) has just completed sweeping the Banks's chimney, then gives Mr. Banks some advice about his “little tykes” when he sings “You've got to grind, grind, grind at that grindstone.” Ask for class/participant impressions of the clip. Discuss the pressures fathers (and mothers) feel to succeed in the world of work and the “time bind” that is a reality. Also discuss what can happen when time with children is not prioritized, as Bert says “though childhood slips like sand through a sieve.”
    • Show a “parental nurturing” clip from Sixteen Candles (1984): scene where the father nurtures Sam when she is going through a hard time and can't sleep by listening and talking with her.
    • To illustrate the importance of preparing for parenthood, show a video clip from Penny Serenade (1941). This humorous scene depicts a couple bathing an infant whom they have just adopted. It is evident that the couple knows little about caring for babies.
    • Show clips that illustrate different types of parenting styles: authoritative (The Sound of Music [1965], where Captain von Trapp whistles for his children), permissive (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory [2005], the squirrels and nuts scene), indifferent (Matilda [1996], the scene where her parents sign over her custody to Miss Honey), and authoritative (Friendship's Field [1995], opening scene).
    • Hook (1991), two scenes: Scene 1—the scene that opens at the daughter's play and concludes with Dad showing up late to the baseball game; Scene 2: the troubling phone call from America and Dad yelling at the kids, followed by a pointed discussion between husband and wife about Dad's lack of involvement. Great illustration of how parenting suffers from work and family imbalance.
    Family Crises
    • Use several snippets from the ending of Shadowlands (1993) to illustrate the family crucible of grieving for a loved one. First, the “Golden Valley” scene to show the good times in the marriage. Then the scene after the wife's cancer returns and she is dying at home. Then a brief clip after his wife's death of C. S. Lewis struggling with the meaning of it all and digging into his faith to accept it. Finishing with the ending scene with C. S. Lewis and his stepson talking about how they miss their mother/wife and grieving for her. These clips allow for a discussion of grief using a neutral example.
    • A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004), the “Railroad Stop” clip. Count Olaf deliberately stops at a railroad crossing, cross the tracks, and locks the car doors so that the Baudelaire children cannot get out. The children are facing a stressor event! How will they handle it? This clip is useful to illustrate the ubiquitous ABC-X model of family stress. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny pool their collective resources (B) in response to their entrapment (A) all the while encouraging each other (C), which ultimately leads to success in redirecting the train away from them. Talk about how family resources and strengths can help them overcome adversity.

    Several modern films depict crucible experiences and the ways individuals and families deal with them and may be valuable to discuss in class, such as Steel Magnolias (1989), Lorenzo's Oil (1992), Stepmom (1998), My Life (1993), Regarding Henry (1991), Life Is Beautiful (1998), Deep End of the Ocean (1999), and Beaches (1988).

    Gender Issues
    • If you want to illustrate many gender issues in the modern world, show some clips from Mr Mom (1983).

    Appendix E: Ethics and Family Life Education

    For decades, the field of family life education lacked an official ethics code, but no longer. Here we briefly chronicle the more recent efforts that eventually led to the development of an officially recognized Family Life Educators Code of Ethics, which is now part of the education of all family life educators who desire to be certified as a family life educator by the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR). For greater detail about these processes, we direct you to the excellent chapters (Chapters 20, 24, and 25) in NCFR's compendium, Family Life Education: Integrating Theory and Practice (Bredehoft & Walcheski, 2009).

    The Need for the Ethical Standard

    Brock (1993) announced the need for ethical standards for family life educators. He made the persuasive argument that because there are instances where family life educators can do harm, professional conduct should be guided by professional standards in much the same way as are doctors, social workers, and marriage and family therapists. Such an ethical code is a sign that a professional field is established (Cassidy, 2003).

    Ethical Principles and Guidelines

    The “Ethical Principles and Guidelines for Family Scientists” were drafted by the Family Science Section of National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) and unanimously approved at the April 1998 meeting of the NCFR Board of Directors (Adams, Dollahite, Gilbert, & Keim, 1998). These guidelines were meant to be educational and sensitizing to those who consider themselves family life educators and family scientists rather than an enforced legal code. The guidelines invite family life educators and family scientists to think critically about ethical issues. While ostensibly created with family life educators in mind, most of the principles apply to family research scientists working in university settings. Thus, a credo designed exclusively for family life educators was still yet to come.

    Minnesota Council on Family Relations (MCFR) Efforts

    A pioneer of the current ethics code was the Ethics Committee of the Minnesota Council on Family Relations (MCFR). This group has studied ethical thinking and behavior for parent and family life educators since 1992. In their extensive research, they collected an initial needs assessment from Minnesota parent and family life educators, created and conducted several experimental workshops and field tests to identify guidelines and virtues, and consulted professionals from other fields on professional ethics. Ultimately, the MCFR (2009) developed Ethical Thinking and Practice for Parent and Family Life Educators. This document represents a unique integration of different ethical perspectives (Palm, 2009). These include relational ethics, a principles approach, and virtue ethics.

    Relational ethics. Relational ethics essentially asks, What principles shall guide my interactions with clientele and other family life educators? This approach focuses on the importance of relationships in any kind of interaction. It stresses understanding relationships as the foundation from which ethical decisions should be made, suggesting that a careful examination of the network of relationships that parent and family life educators encounter is the first step toward applying principles and finding a solution. Relational ethics is also seen as a call for action, meaning that caring relationships should be a constant goal and consistently worked toward by periodic evaluation to understand the state of a particular relationship. Emphasis is put on process and content for moral behavior. General guidelines for developing healthy, caring relationships with the different groups certified family life educators work with are incorporated in each section of the Code of Ethics (Bredehoft & Walcheski, 2009).

    Principles approach. Similar to the relational ethics approach, this framework emphasizes specific principles, set as the ideal level of practice in order to achieve and maintain healthy relationships, both between the certified family life educator and the public as well as among families they are helping. These principles were developed inductively through workshops to be used to guide family life educators in responding to ethical dilemmas. The principles approach essentially asks, How shall I deal with ethical dilemmas that arise in my practice of FLE?

    Virtue ethics. Virtue ethics asks, What characteristics are important for me to embody as a family life educator? While many characteristics may be seen as important as a family life educator, the MCFR group ultimately decided on three virtues (Palm, 2009, p. 194):

    • Caring (the disposition to support the well-being of family members as decision makers in their own lives)
    • Prudence or practical wisdom (the ability to understand competing needs in complex situations and make decisions based on reflection and consultation with peers)
    • Hope/optimism (the disposition to focus on the strengths and positive potential of family members and other individuals and to maintain a positive attitude in the face of adversity)

    With minor adaptations, MCFR guidelines became the officially recognized Family Life Educators Code of Ethics, which is now part of the education of all family life educators who desire Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) certification.

    Family Life Educators Code of Ethics: Preamble

    Family life education (FLE) is the educational effort to strengthen individual and family life through a family perspective. The objective of family life education is to enrich and improve the quality of individual and family life by providing knowledge and skills needed for effective living. FLE emphasizes processes to enable people to develop into healthy adults and to realize their potential. Family life education helps people to work together in close relationships and facilitates the ability of people to function effectively in their personal lives and as members of society. While various professionals assist families, it is the family life educator who incorporates a family-systems, preventive, and educational approach to individual and family issues.

    Family life education includes knowledge about how families work; the inter-relationship of the family and society; human growth and development throughout the life span; both the physiological and psychological aspects of human sexuality; the impact of money and time management on daily life; the importance and value of education for parenting; the effects of policy and legislation on families; ethical considerations in professional conduct; and a solid understanding and knowledge of how to teach and/or develop curriculum for what are often sensitive and personal issues.

    A professional code of ethics provides guidelines when confronted with challenging and difficult ethical dilemmas. They serve notice to the public, and profession, as to the principles and values that will guide decision making under such circumstances. The ethical principles put forth in this Code of Ethics are standards of conduct, which Family Life Educators consider in ethical and professional decision making.

    Ethical Principles for Parent and Family Life Educators: I. Relationships with Parents and Families
    • I will be aware of the impact/power we have on parents and family relations.
    • I will strive to understand families as complex, interactive systems where parents have the primary responsibility as educators, nurturers and limit-setters for their children.
    • I will respect cultural beliefs, backgrounds and differences and engage in practice that is sensitive to the diversity of child-rearing values and goals.
    • I will help parents and other family members recognize their strengths and work with them to set goals for themselves, their children, and others.
    • I will respect and accept parents and other family members for who they are, recognizing their developmental level and circumstances.
    • I will support and challenge parents to continue to grow and learn about parenting and their child's development.
    • I will communicate respectfully and clearly with all family members.
    • I will communicate openly and truthfully about the nature and extent of services provided.
    • I will support diverse family values by acknowledging and examining alternative parenting practices that support healthy family relationships.
    • I will include parents/other family members as partners in problem solving and decision-making related to program design and implementation.
    • I will be proactive in stating child guidance principles and discipline guidelines and encourage non-violent child rearing.
    • I will create data privacy and confidentiality guidelines respectful of family members and protective of their legal rights.
    • I will provide a program environment that is safe and nurturing to all family members.
    • I will ensure that all family members have access to and are encouraged to participate in family education.
    • I will support family members as they make decisions about the use of resources to best meet family needs.
    • I will support healthy interpersonal relationships among all family members.
    • I will encourage family members to explore their values and promote healthy sexuality in their family.
    II. Relationships with Children and Youth
    • I will treat children and youth with respect and sensitivity to their needs and rights as developing persons.
    • I will strive to understand children and youth in the context of their families.
    • I will do no harm to children and youth and insist on the same from others.
    • I will advocate for children and youth and their best interests at the same time that we work with the parents and other family members.
    • I will provide environments that are respectful of children and youth and sensitive to their developmental and individual needs.
    • I will support the right of all children and youth to have access to quality education, health and community resources.
    III. Relationships with Colleagues and the Profession
    • I will value and promote diversity in staff.
    • I will provide staff with policies and support systems for addressing difficult situations with family members, colleagues and others.
    • I will follow data privacy policies that meet legal standards and are based on respect for family members.
    • I will follow the mandatory reporting of abusive family behavior in a respectful and prudent manner.
    • I will define our role as parent and family life educators and practice within our level of competence.
    • I will recognize the difference between personal and professional values in our professional interactions.
    • I will support the ongoing development of a knowledge base that guides us towards ethical and effective practice.
    • I will be committed to ongoing professional development to enhance our knowledge and skills.
    IV. Relationships with Community/Society
    • I will be knowledgeable about community resources and make and accept informed, appropriate referrals.
    • I will be aware of the boundaries of our practice and know when and how to use other community resources for the benefit of family members.
    • I will communicate clearly and cooperate with other programs/ agencies in order to best meet family needs.
    • I will advocate for laws and policies that reflect our changing knowledge base and the best interests of parents, families and communities.
    • I will respect and uphold laws and regulations that pertain to our practice as parent and family life educators and offer expertise to legal authorities based on professional knowledge.

    By my signature below, I verify that I have read these ethical principles and that they will guide my professional practice as a Certified Family Life Educator

    This signed document should be submitted along with the CFLE Abbreviated Application and the CFLE Exam Application.

    SOURCE: Drawn from the Minnesota Council on Family Relations (MCFR). (2009). Ethical thinking and practice for parent and family life educators. Minneapolis: Minnesota Council on Family Relations. Used here by permission.


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    Author Index

    About the Authors

    Stephen F. Duncan is Professor in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University. He received a master's degree in Family Sciences (Family Life Education emphasis) from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. in Family Studies from Purdue University. He has authored or coauthored numerous outreach publications for lay audiences and professionals; written hundreds of articles for newspaper columns; been interviewed numerous times for television, radio, and magazine outlets; and directed nationally recognized outreach family life education programs. He served as an Extension Family Life Specialist at Auburn University in Alabama for 5 years and held a similar position at Montana State University for over 7 years. At BYU, he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in family life education, conducts research geared to improve the practice of family life education, and directs outreach projects for the school. He was content director for Real Families, Real Answers, a Rocky Mountain Emmy Award-nominated documentary series appearing on public television channels nationwide. He has certification as a Family Life Educator.

    Dr. Duncan has actively contributed to the scholarship of family life education, authoring numerous articles on outreach programs and evaluation, many of which have appeared in leading family life education/out-reach outlets. He serves or has served on several editorial boards, including Marriage and Families; the Children, Youth and Families Education and Research Network (CYFERNet); Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy; and Family Relations, widely recognized as the world's leading applied family research/practitioner journal. Steve and his wife, Barbara, are parents of five children.

    H. Wallace (Wally) Goddard is Professor of Family Life with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. He is well known nationally for his TV program, Guiding Children Successfully, as well as a multitude of creative programs: The Great Self Mystery, The Personal Journey, Managing Stress, The Marriage Garden, The Parenting Journey, Principles of Parenting, and See the World Through My Eyes—which has won several national awards.

    In the professional world of family life educators, Dr. Goddard may be best known for his work on influential models. He was a member of the team that developed the National Extension Parent Education Model (NEPEM), which defines the critical content areas of parent education. He was also involved in the development of NEPEM's companion document, The National Extension Parenting educators' Framework, which defines the essential elements of professional development. In addition to work in the parenting arena, he is also a member of the team that created the National Extension Relationship and Marriage Education Model (NERMEM).

    Wally has participated in many book projects, including the revision of the classic Between Parent and Child. He provided content expertise to Stephen R. Covey when he wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families. He and his colleague, James Marshall, have written The Marriage Garden. He has also written Soft-Spoken Parenting and various books for general, professional, and Christian audiences.

    Of course, family life education is more than academic for Wally. He and his wife, Nancy, have raised three children, cared for 20 foster children, and are looking after a growing number of grandchildren.

    Susan Calahan is an Associate Professor of Health Education in the Department of School Health Education at Southern Connecticut State University, where she teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses. She received her B.S. degree in Secondary Education from Eastern Oregon University, an M.S. in Health Education from Brigham Young University, and a Ph.D. in Health Education from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Dr. Calahan has conducted and published research related to adolescent health behaviors, sexuality, and the media, as well as curriculum development and evaluation. She also has worked internationally studying health behaviors of adolescents in Ukraine. She has been an educator for 24 years and is a former junior and senior high school teacher and also has worked in the field of occupational health.

    Steven A. Dennis is a faculty member at Brigham Young University-Idaho in the Department of Home and Family. He received graduate training in both instructional technology (M.S., 1992) and family science (Ph.D., 1995) from Utah State University. Prior to joining the faculty at BYU-Idaho, Dr. Dennis worked as a Family Life Specialist for the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service and a faculty member of the School of Human Environmental Science at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He also worked as a project director at the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University.

    Aaron T. Ebata is an Associate Professor of Social Development in the Department of Human and Community Development at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he also holds an appointment as an Extension Specialist with the University of Illinois Extension. He received his B.S. degrees in Biology and Psychology from the University of Hawaii and completed his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State. Dr. Ebata came to Illinois in 1990 after completing a research fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. A former elementary and preschool teacher, Dr. Ebata has conducted applied research on how children and families cope with stress and now develops outreach programs for parents and conducts training for professionals who work with children. He has developed a number of online programs for parents and professionals. He is married and the father of two sons.

    Tonya Fischio is a public relations professional who has worked in the field for 15 years. After receiving her communications degree from Brigham Young University, she worked in the New York office of Edelman Public Relations, at Nu Skin International in Utah, and at the Family Studies Center at Brigham Young University. At the Family Studies Center, she used both the local and national media to share family research findings and university-sponsored family-related programs with target audiences. Currently, she manages the external relations for the J. Reuben Clark Law School. Throughout her career, she has held positions in internal communications, international relations, crisis management, and media relations.

    Alan J. Hawkins is Professor of Family Life at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He earned a Masters of Organizational Behavior from BYU in 1984 and Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies at The Pennsylvania State University in 1990. He has been teaching and conducting research and outreach at BYU since then. Professor Hawkins's current scholarship and outreach has focused on educational and policy interventions to help couples form and sustain healthy marriages and prevent divorce. He has published widely on this topic in leading journals. In 2003–2004, he was a visiting scholar with the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, working on the federal healthy marriage initiative. He was the Research Director of the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center from 2004–2006. He serves as Chair of the Utah Healthy Marriage Initiative. He is a member of the National Advisory Committee for the National Center for Families and Marriage Research and the National Center for African American Marriages and Families at Hampton University.

    Charles A. Smith is Professor and Extension Parent Educator in the School of Family Studies and Human Services at Kansas State University. He holds a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Dayton and both an M.S. and Ph.D. in Child Development from Purdue University. He has worked extensively with young children as director of the Child Development Center at Texas Tech University, as a preschool teacher, and as a play therapist in a children's hospital. Raising Courageous Kids: Eight Steps to Practical Heroism (2004) is the most recent of his five books. His websites, The WonderWise Parent ( and Raising Courageous Kids (, provide additional information about his programs.

    Heidi E. Stolz is Associate Professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies at the University of Tennessee, where she also serves as the Co-Director of the Center for Parenting. She received her B.A. in Economics from Whitman College; B.Ed. in Secondary Education from the University of Puget Sound; M.A. in Human Development from Washington State University; and Ph.D. in Marriage, Family, and Human Development from Brigham Young University. Dr. Stolz conducts basic research on mothering, fathering, and parenting, as well as program evaluations of parent training programs. She is a board member of the National Parenting Education Network (NPEN).

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