|| About Family Life Education
What is family life education?
Family life education (FLE) is any effort to strengthen family life through education or
support, and can include anything from teaching about relationships in schools to providing
a parent’s day out. The objective of all family life education is to enrich and improve
the quality of individual and family life.
Rather than define what constitutes a family, FLE
emphasizes processes that help people develop into healthy adults, work together
in close relationships, and bring out the best in others. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of Americans are ever
reached by family life education. This is a painful reality since there is no enterprise
that is as complex as being a human. There may be no arena of life in which education may
be as valuable as in family life.
Who is a family life educator?
Family life educators share information related to family life with families, couples,
parents, youth, or students by teaching, writing, coordinating, speaking or creating
Anyone who teaches others about family life could be considered a family life educator.
Initially, it was not clear who qualified to be a family life educator, and sometimes physicians
and nurses were used--people with professional training but no specific training in
family life education. Specific training and certification for family life educators was badly needed.
This need was met by the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR), which now offers an
accreditation for educators who meet specific academic and experience requirements. For
more information see Certification Basics. Additionally, in recent years
there have been movements to standardize and professionalize this growing field.
What do family life educators do?
Family life educators, using many methods and innumerable settings, provide valuable
training to people who want to be more effective family members. Here are a few examples
of family life educators at work to strengthen families:
- Lawrence Barry works as a chaplain in Ft. Lewis, WA where along with his
regular duties he provides pastoral counseling to soldiers and family members and
conducts marriage and family enrichment/education workshops.
- In Houston, Texas local judges appoint offenders and divorcing couples with minor
children to attend Edward Stasney’s anger management and co-parenting workshops.
- In Saratoga Springs, Utah, Paula Fellingham does a “Solutions for Families” radio show
providing family information to listeners, writes columns for local newspapers and has
written two family books.
- Besides teaching premarital and marriage education, stepfamily strengthening, fathering
and parenting seminars, Julie Baumgardner in Chattanooga, TN works with First Things First
to promote family-friendly workplace policies and increase community awareness of the
importance of strong marriages and families through public service campaigns.
- Wally Goddard is an Extension Family Life Specialist with the University of Arkansas
Cooperative Extension. He has developed “Guiding Children Successfully," a public television
series that is being broadcast nationally. He trains county agents in every corner
of Arkansas to deliver effective partnering and parenting education in their communities. He has also worked with Alice Ginott (Haim Ginott's widow), to revise the parenting classic, Between Parent & Child.
Family life education is done by many different groups of people in many different ways.
Delivery methods include print materials, mass media, classes, workshops, newsletters,
mentoring and cultural change. The organizations that deliver family life education range from
universities to entrepreneurs, from health organizations to government and military, from
public schools to faith communities.