Goddard, H. W., & Smith, C. A. (2011). Appendix A: A Statement of Principles. In S. F.
Duncan, & H. W. Goddard, Family Life Education: Principles and Practices for Effective
Outreach (pp. 378-388). Sage Publications, Inc.
A Statement of Principles
H. Wallace Goddard
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 fi t 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 specifi c 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 refl ection 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).
A Statement of Principles ● 379
THE PRINCIPLE OF ORDER: BEHAVIOR HAS l
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
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
THE PRINCIPLE OF EMPATHY: A FUNDAMENTAL ACT OF l
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
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
380 ● FAMILY LIFE EDUCATION
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).
l 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 refl ective, 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
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 diffi cult.
We do not have complete control of our experience.
A Statement of Principles ● 381
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’S l
LIFE IS DEFINED BY THE ACCUMULATION OF CHOICES
Elaboration: Patterns of choices have a cumulative effect. Some choices are
made more diffi cult because of a pattern of previous choices. The person
who has often chosen anger as the reaction to differences of opinion may
fi nd 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 diffi culty 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
THE PRINCIPLE OF LOSS: SOMETIMES THE BEST CHOICE TO l
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
382 ● FAMILY LIFE EDUCATION
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 fi nding 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.
l PRINCIPLE OF INTEGRITY: ACTING CONSISTENT WITH
INTERNAL PRINCIPLES OF RIGHT AND WRONG AND
OUT OF COMPASSION FOR ALL LIFE BUILDS HEALTHY
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
A Statement of Principles ● 383
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
THE PRINCIPLE OF MOVEMENT: LIFE IS MOVEMENT l
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 diffi culties in children (colic, diapers, and tantrums)
will be outgrown with a little patience and perspective. Some of the diffi culties 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 l
THE HUMAN SPIRIT TOWARD LIFE-SUSTAINING BEHAVIOR
Elaboration: Healthy human beings fi ght to protect and preserve life. Healthy
human beings fl inch at the sight of suffering and waste. While decay is real,
so also is the drive toward goodness, connection, and growth.
384 ● FAMILY LIFE EDUCATION
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 fl ames 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 fi rst
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).
l 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
Parenting example: As we work with children, we make allowances for
the inconvenience and challenge of living with little people who will not
fi t tidily into our adult schedules. Parents who adjust their schedules and
expectations in order to synchronize with their children will fi nd 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
A Statement of Principles ● 385
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
THE PRINCIPLE OF READINESS FOR CHANGE: PROBLEMS ARE l
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 confl ict 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
infl uence 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 specifi c 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.
386 ● FAMILY LIFE EDUCATION
l THE PRINCIPLE OF DISCOVERY: THERE ARE ALWAYS MORE
POSSIBILITIES THAN OUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCES SUGGEST
Elaboration: No one person has suffi cient 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 confl icts 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 fl ooded 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
fi xed. 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.
l THE PRINCIPLE OF SYNERGY: WHEN WE ACT TOGETHER,
WE DISCOVER POSSIBILITIES THAT NONE OF US WOULD
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 fi shing with the kids.
She wants to visit her mother. They can fi ght about the virtue of their
respective preferences. Or, working together, they can discover a better
way. Maybe he will fi nd a fi shing 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
A Statement of Principles ● 387
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
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 l
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 profi table, we can see marriage as the place where fl awed 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
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 “fi nd 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.
388 ● FAMILY LIFE EDUCATION
l 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 selfl ess. 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
modifi ed 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.
Summarize the following selected reading under the specified headings:
Duncan, S. & Goddard, W. (2005). Family life education: Principles and practices for effective outreach. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
After reading the supplemental materials, please include into your essay the following information:
a. Principle Summary: Summarize EACH of the ethical principles discussed in the article (no direct quotes should be used). This section should be about 2 pages.
b. Application: Thoroughly discuss how you will apply these principles to your work as a Family Life Educator This section should be about a ½ page.
c. Personal Biases: Identify and discuss awareness of your personal biases or attitudes and identify which populations of individuals would be the most challenging for you to work with (ex: sex offenders, people of a different race than you, people of a different religion than you, alcoholics, drug addicts, etc.). This section should be about a ½ page.
d. Strategies: Identify what strategies you will utilize to challenge and overcome those biases to allow you to successfully work with those populations that are challenging for you. This section should be about a ½ page.
e. Please include the four headings in the ethical philosophy: Principle Summary, Application, Personal Biases, and Strategies
f. Must be 3 full pages, NO PLAGIARISM