UNIT 1: Evolving Perspectives on the Family
1. The Changing Face of the American Family, Tim Stanley, History Today, 2012.
The media often portrays an idealized image of families, focusing on traditional values, structures, and gender-roles. At the core has been the idea of the nuclear family. Taking a historical perspective, how have political, social, and economic forces shaped our view of family in the U.S.? Are our views of family liberal and inclusive or are they still shaped by conservative notions valuing the traditional, nuclear family over other forms?
2. Five Reasons We Can't Handle Marriage Anymore, Anthony D'Ambrosio, Asbury Park Press, N.J., 2015.
In the last 50 years social norms, conventions, economic circumstances, and the way we communicate with marital partners have dramatically changed. Our ideas and realities surrounding sex, finances, connection, love, and privacy are different than past generations. Given these changes, does marriage just not work for modern adults? Are we not equipped to manage the challenges and commitment it requires?
3. Family Matters, W. Bradford Wilcox, Slate, 2014.
America is the land of opportunity - or is it? Research data from a new Harvard study suggests that children from single parent families are less likely to experience upward mobility. What accounts for this, how does marriage influence children's outcomes, and how can we help children and families achieve the American dream?
4. Bridging Cultural Divides: The Role and Impact of Binational Families, Samantha N.N. Cross and Mary C. Gilly, Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 2013.
U.S. families are increasingly binational, merging partners who are immigrants from different countries. What do we really know about families who mix and merge different cultures through intermarriage? Using data from a variety of sources, this article considers how changes in the composition of households affect family decision making and resource management.
5. Matches Made on Earth: Why Family Values Are Human Values, Nancie L. Gonzalez, The Humanist, 2011.
What are family values? Who gets to decide? For that matter, what is a family? Although the definition of both terms has often been associated with a conservative perspective, the author argues for a broader view, recognizing the fact that societies differ, as do cultures, and that they also evolve over time.
UNIT 2: Exploring and Establishing Relationships
6. What Schools Should Teach Kids About Sex, Jessica Lahey, The Atlantic, 2015.
What do kids want to know about sex? How do schools in the U.S. provide sex education to students? The strategies used, the effectiveness of approaches utilized, and innovative solutions are considered.
7. Sex and the Class of 2020: How Will Hookups Change?, Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, 2015.
California, like many states, is enacting a law which mandates "affirmative consent" in sexual encounters. No longer is it enough to assume your partner gives consent to sex through their behavior; now consent needs to be explicitly and enthusiastically given. How will this change in the law influence the sexual behavior and experiences of young adults?
8. Sex Doesn't Have to Make Sense, Agustín Fuentes, Psychology Today, 2015.
Recent research has tried to understand sex from an evolutionary perspective. But do these explanations help us to fully understand the complex nature of attraction, sexual behavior, and our thoughts and feelings about sex and our partners?
9. 12 Rude Revelations About Sex, Alain de Botton, Psychology Today, 2013.
Are most sexual problems mechanical, as some sex experts have led us to believe? Alain de Botton ponders this question and others, offering insights from his new book How to Think More About Sex, exploring a variety of questions about sexual behavior, desire, pornography, adultery, and sex within marriage.
10. There’s No Such Thing as Everlasting Love (According to Science), Emily Esfahani Smith, The Atlantic, 2013.
What is love? Is it romance and commitment or something less substantial, like "micro-moments" of positive feelings we experience with others during the day? Smith discusses the nature and experience of love using insights from scientific research.
11. Dating As If It Were Driver's Ed, Lisa Jander, USA Today, 2014.
Important milestones for teenagers are getting their driver's license and starting to date. How come nationwide we require driver education programs to prepare them to be safe in a car but fewer than half of all states require sex education classes or programs for teens? How can we help adolescents stay healthy and safe when navigating the world of sex, relationships, peer pressure, and stress which can be just as dangerous to them as driving?
12. The Expectations Trap, Hara Estroff Marano, Psychology Today, 2010.
Many of the expectations we have for what a potential partner can and should do are culturally determined. We may blame our partners for our unhappiness, and continue to seek "the one." Choosing the right partner is important, but by looking at oneself and one's expectations, it is possible to become the right partner.
13. The Myth of Wealthy Men and Beautiful Women, James Hamblin, The Atlantic, 2014.
In mating, which is more important - finding a match that is similar to you or winning the affections of someone who is better looking and makes more money than you? This article uses current research insights to consider the role physical attractiveness, wealth, and status play in relationship formation for men and women.
14. Not Wanting Kids is Entirely Normal, Jessica Valenti, The Atlantic, 2012.
Becoming an adult is almost synonymous with getting married and having kids. However, if parents had to do it over again, would they? Is parenthood for everyone?
15. What Happens to a Woman's Brain When She Becomes a Mother, Adrienne LaFrance, The Atlantic, 2015.
Having a child changes many aspects of a woman's life but does it actually change her brain? Using the latest developments in neuroscience, this article considers how pregnancy, caregiving, and parenthood changes our thinking, emotions, behavior, and physiology.
16. Sperm Donor, Life Partner, Alana Semuels, The Atlantic, 2014.
Reproductive technology and the internet have changed the ways families are formed. Is it possible to connect with a potential co-parent online? Do you need to be in love and romantically-linked to decide to have a baby and parent together? This article examines the trend to platonic parenting.
UNIT 3: Family Relationships
17. Is Your Relationship Dysfunctional?, Randi Gunther, Psychology Today, 2015.
It is impossible for any intimate relationship to be perfect; dysfunctional patterns and behaviors occur more frequently than most of us are willing to admit. This article explores 10 common dysfunctional behaviors used in relationships. A relationship survey is also included so readers can determine their "relationship dysfunction quotient."
18. Ten Reasons Why Texting Is Awful for Society and Ruining It Too, Alexia LaFata, ThoughtCatalog.com, 2014.
The first text message was sent over 20 years ago. Now we often use them to communicate with family members and loved ones. How do these interchanges differ from face-to-face conversations and phone calls? What are some problems and pitfalls in communicating using digital, text-based messages?
19. Secrets: Are Yours Slowly Killing You?, Brian Smith, Men's Health, 2014.
While most of us strive to be honest and forthcoming with those we love and care about there are occasions where we keep secrets. This article considers the effects of keeping secrets and also confessing them on our health and relationships.
20. Are You with the Right Mate?, Rebecca Webber, Psychology Today, 2012.
Is it "normal" to be discontent and disillusioned about your marriage and your partner? Marriages are not always sources of personal satisfaction. Some factors are more important to compatibility than others. Does what bother you about your relationship say more about you than your partner?
21. Masters of Love, Emily Esfahani Smith, The Atlantic, 2014.
John Gottman's work has focused on trying to understand what makes marriages work. This article reviews his work and that of others on communication patterns in couples. The goal is to use their research to illustrate how successful, healthy, loving marriages work.
22. How to Stay Married, Anne Kingston, Maclean's, 2011.
The author explores Iris Krasnow's work The Secret Lives of Women: What It Really Takes to Stay Married. She suggests that women need to lower their expectations of what marriage can provide and to grow as individuals. She argues that marriage is less about finding someone to "complete you" and more about finding and liking yourself, both separate and in the context of the marriage.
23. The Gay Guide to Wedded Bliss, Liza Mundy, The Atlantic, 2013.
While the debate over gay marriage continues, decades of research on same-sex relationships, families, and parenting exists. Research finds that those in same sex relationships are often happier than those in heterosexual relationships. What can we learn from gay and lesbian couples on the keys to fulfilling relationships?
24. Multiple Lovers, Without Jealousy, Olga Khazan, The Atlantic, 2014.
What is polyamory? Is it possible to love, be intimate with, and create a family unit with more than one partner? How do polyamorous relationships develop and function so there is no jealousy or rivalry among partners? Using case studies and research data this article explores the experiences of those involved in polyamorous relationships.
25. Parenting Wars, Jane Shilling, New Statesman, 2013.
Parents are flooded with conflicting media messages about how to raise healthy, happy, successful children. Is there one right way to raise a child? Shilling discusses familial, societal, cultural, historical, and media influences on parenting, highlighting the role of love, character, and identity development.
26. Raising a Moral Child, Adam Grant, The New York Times, 2014.
How do you raise a child who is generous, empathetic, and good to others? This article examines the role of temperament, parental praise, emotional socialization, and discipline strategies in children's moral and character development.
27. My Rules for My Kids: Eat Your Vegetables; Don’t Blame the Teacher, Francis L. Thompson, The Atlantic, 2014.
Francis Thompson and his wife successfully parented 12 children now aged 22 to 37 years old. How did they do it and what can we learn from their childrearing techniques about how to best prepare our children for the future?
28. The Science of Siblings, Francine Russo, Parade Magazine, 2013.
Recent theoretical work suggests siblings are more important in shaping who you are than even your genes, parents, or peers. Using research data this article considers how birth order, sibling squabbles, parental favoritism, and parental loss influence our personality and life course.
29. Birth Order May Predict Intelligence and Illness in First-Borns, but Vitality in Their Siblings, Chris Weller, Medical Daily, 2015.
There are many commonly held perceptions of children based on their birth order. What do we really know about the role that birth order plays in determining intelligence, personality, and health?
30. How to Make Peace With Your Sibling, Evan Imber-Black, The Washington Post, 2015.
Even though you've grown up why do the same tensions and issues still seem to crop-up interacting with your siblings? Using a family systems perspective this article considers family dynamics and practical strategies for changing the patterns in sibling relationships.
31. The Accordion Family, Katherine S. Newman, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2012.
More and more adult children are returning home to live with their parents or never leaving home in the first place. Why are adult children boomeranging back home or delaying their departure from the comfort and security of their parents' home? This article looks at the historical, economic, cultural, and social factors contributing to these "accordion families."
32. Daddy Issues: Why Caring For My Aging Father Has Me Wishing He Would Die, Sandra Tsing Loh, The Atlantic, 2012.
The author discusses real-life the financial and emotional burden of caring for her 91 year old father. Changes in their family and relationship dynamics are discussed as she explains why caring for him has made her wish he would die.
33. Baby Boomers Care for Grandchildren as Daughters Pursue Careers, Kim Eun-Ha, Koreana, 2013.
More and more grandparents are assuming care for their grandchildren when their parents return to work. What are the reasons behind this trend? How do families make these intergenerational caregiving situations work?
UNIT 4: Challenges and Opportunities
34. Anguish of the Abandoned Child, Charles A. Nelson III, Nathan A. Fox, and Charles H. Zeanah Jr., Scientific American, 2013.
How do early experiences of neglect, trauma, and deprivation affect a child? Using data from a study of orphans in Romania this article explores differences in the outcomes of children reared with families, foster care, and state-run institutions.
35. Family Privilege, John R. Seita, Reclaiming Children and Youth, 2014.
Family privilege is defined as "strengths and supports gained through primary caring relationships." Children reared in foster care often lack access to the privileges afforded by families. To promote resilience in the face of adversity the author highlights the role of kin and communities in helping children build trust, find their talents, foster independence, and find purpose.
36. Terrorism in the Home, Victor M. Parachin, The Priest, 2013.
What is domestic violence? The article discusses 11 common myths about domestic violence. Topics addressed include the signs of domestic violence, causes, and the challenges involved in assisting victims.
37. Alcoholism—The Family Illness, National Association for the Children of Alcoholics, nacoa.org.uk, 2015.
Why is alcoholism considered a family illness versus an individual problem? This article examines alcoholism through the lens of family systems theory, exploring how the disease influences family roles and functioning.
38. Keeping the Promise: Maintaining the Health of Military and Veteran Families and Children, Colonel Stephen J. Cozza, Ron Haskins, and Richard Lerner, The Future of Children Journal, 2013.
What are the challenges military personnel and their families face? This policy brief summarizes the research on the effects of deployment, separation, and factors that promote resilience in military families.
39. From Promise to Promiscuity, Hara Estroff Marano, Psychology Today, 2012.
Why do spouses cheat? It was once thought that infidelity resulted from deficits in relationship or problems in the marriage. New thinking suggests multiple causes including opportunity, personality, affluence, corporate culture, and brain chemistry.
40. The Adultery Arms Race, Michelle Cottle, The Atlantic, 2014.
Just as technology has made it easier to develop and maintain an extramarital affair so too can it make it easier for a suspicious spouse to monitor a potentially unfaithful partner. What role does technology play in marital infidelity and catching a cheater? Can it also help couples dealing with infidelity help build back trust?
41. International Perspectives on Work-Family Policies: Lessons from the World's Most Competitive Economies, Alison Earle, Zitha Mokomane, and Jody Heymann, The Future of Children Journal, 2011.
Is it compatible for a country to be economically competitive and family friendly in its workplace and leave policies? The authors compare U.S. work-family policies with those in 15 economically-competitive nations. Their analyses finds that the U.S. lags behind the rest of the world in affording benefits such as paid maternity and paternity leave to employees.
42. Behind Every Great Woman, Carol Hymowitz, Bloomberg Businessweek, 2012.
More women are climbing the corporate ladder and becoming primary breadwinners in their families. To create work-family balance, husbands often leave their careers to man the homefront. What effect does this role reversal have on children, marriages, and families?
43. Exploring the Lived Experiences of Homeless Families with Young Children, Stephanie Hinton and Darlinda Cassel, Early Childhood Education Journal, 2013.
Why do families with young children become homeless? What resources are available to families and how does the experience of being homeless affect young children's development and well-being?
44. Caregiving Support and Help: Tips for Making Family Caregiving Easier, Melinda Smith and Jeanne Segal, Helpguide.org , 2015.
This article examines family caregiving. It provides guidance to those who are new to caring for a family member or loved one regarding practical and emotional supports needed to manage caregiver burden and stress.
45. Family Members’ Informal Roles in End-of-Life Decision Making in Adult Intensive Care Units, Jill R. Quinn et al., American Journal of Critical Care, 2012.
When a family member is critically ill, there are many decisions to be made. While one person is usually legally designated to make decisions, a variety of different family members often are informally involved in end-of-life decision-making. What roles do they play and how can conflicts be effectively resolved?
46. Why Do Marriages Fail?, Joseph N. Ducanto, American Journal of Family Law, 2013.
A divorce lawyer in practice for 56 years discusses the reasons he believes marriages end and partners decide to formally and legally divorce. What can be done to encourage partners to recommit and reconnect in their marriages? Or, is marriage dead, as the author suggests?
47. Helping Children Endure Divorce, Marlene Eskind Moses, Tennessee Bar Journal, 2013.
A legal professional considers how divorce influences children. She includes guidelines for parents to help children adjust and adapt when parents decide to legally end their unions.
48. The Effects of Co-Parenting Relationships with Ex-Spouses on Couples in Step-Families, Claire Cartwright and Kerry Gibson, Family Matters, 2013.
What are issues for families when parents re-marry and create step-families? This study looks at the process of family development and co-parenting in families with children where spouses have remarried.
UNIT 5: Families, Now and into the Future
49. The Changing American Family, Natalie Angier, The New York Times, 2013.
Families in the U.S. are becoming more varied in form, structure, and how they function. What does the modern family look like and how is our definition of what a family is changing and evolving as society changes?
50. A Million First Dates, Dan Slater, The Atlantic, 2013.
Are innovations like online dating sites assisting us in connecting and finding life-long partners or just leading to a million first dates which go nowhere? This article explores how online dating is changing patterns of mate selection, relationship formation, and ultimately how we view commitment.
51. Family Diversity Is the New Normal for America's Children, Philip Cohen, Council on Contemporary Families, 2014.
We know the families in which children live have changed since the 1950s. However are families just different or instead so diverse that one model, pattern, or structure no longer predominates? Using demographic data, changes in family structure, living arrangements, and parental employment patterns are explored.
52. What Kids Learn From Hearing Family Stories, Elaine Reese, The Atlantic, 2013.
Every family has a story. What do children learn from these personal narratives that weave about our lives, experiences, and ancestors?
53. Family Strengths and Resilience: Insights from a National Study, Eugene C. Roehlkepartain and Amy K. Syvertsen, Reclaiming Children and Youth, 2014.
Using research data from a nationally representative sample of parents and their teens the authors examine family assets with goal of identifying family characteristics and strategies which help promote resilience.