Newsletter: May 2005

Building Relationship Skills NewsletterMay 2005Dear Friends,It’s not to late to be a part of this summer’s free training opportunity for those of us who are interested in helping young people learn the relationship skills they will need to eventually enjoy a healthy marriage.On Monday, June 27th, Marline Pearson of the Love U2® series, Charlene Kamper of the CONNECTIONS series and Nancy McLaren, the Director of the Loving Well Project will conduct a free all day training session following the Smart Marriages Conference in Dallas. The post-conference institute which is scheduled from 8:30 am until 5:30 pm is free of charge. The authors will train participants in how to use their materials in order to teach students the essential skills that are central to building healthy marriages. Their programs are easily adaptable beyond the classroom to churches, youth agencies and community settings.Although you need not register for the Smart Marriage conference in order to come to this training, the Smart Marriage conference is a great opportunity to meet and hear key people in the Marriage Education Movement. As an incentive to attend the entire conference, the early bird rate has been extended for those attendees who also register for the FREE post-conference institute.In order to get the early rate for the conference and to sign up for the post-conference institute, to download a printable registration form. To get the discount, you must fax the registration form instead of signing up on-line. On the form, please note the following: “Early rate extended per INSTITUTE # 918” Remember, you need not register for the Smart Marriage conference in order to come to this training (although you would be missing out on a most amazing opportunity to meet and hear the folks who are at the center of the Marriage Education Movement!).Best Regards,Kay ReedP.S. It’s almost here!! Look for the new Love U2® unit, Baby Smarts, to be launched in June!!!

WASHINGTON MOVES TO TEACH FAMILY MATTERS IN HIGH SCHOOLThe Los Angeles TimesApril 24, 2005A bill before the governor seeks model lessons on relationships. Opponentsworry it would marginalize nontraditional homes.By Tomas Alex Tizon, Times Staff WriterThe wording of the original bill was so strident that lawmakers made it clearthat it would not pass. That version required all high schools to offer familypreservation classes as electives. Instead, after some wrangling, legislatorssettled on a version that required only that the state superintendent create afamily preservation curriculum, one that school districts would then be urgedto use as a guide.(SURE have to wish this were the “other” Washington, that it was recognizedon a national level that teaching marriage and relationship skills in highschool and middle school makes obvious good sense. – diane )SEATTLE Addressing the disintegration of traditional families, Washingtonlawmakers this month took a step in requiring schools to teach “familypreservation” classes in essence making relationships as important asreading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.The Legislature passed a bill, awaiting the governor’s signature, thatrequires the state superintendent of public schools to develop a familypreservation curriculum that school districts will be urged to use as amodel.Supporters say the classes would teach high school students how to form andmaintain loving relationships, resolve conflicts, and deal with stress,grief and disappointment all vital to keeping families strong. A few otherstates have passed or are considering similar legislation, includingFlorida, New Jersey and New York.Opponents say the measure could push schools into a realm in which theydon’t belong, namely defining what is right and wrong within families andidealizing a traditional “Beaver Cleaver” nuclear family that wouldmarginalize others, such as same-sex couples, single parents and blendedfamilies.”It seems innocent enough on its face. I mean what could be wrong withpreserving the family, right?” said state Rep. Steve Kirby, a Democrat fromTacoma who opposes the measure. But Kirby said the language of thelegislation was so broad that it gave individual school districts thelicense to veer into sensitive and personal, even private, issues.Kirby says he is part of a blended family: He and his wife were previouslymarried and now both have step-children. He said he didn’t like the idea of”a teacher standing up in front of my son and giving him the impression thatsomehow his family is substandard.””One of my concerns would be my son coming home and telling me, ‘Guess what,Dad? We’re doing things wrong,’ ” he said.Children from other nontraditional families, such as those with same-sex orsingle parents, could also feel alienated, Kirby said.The major force behind the legislation, Larry Kvamme, a citizen activistfrom Tacoma, said there was no hidden agenda in the law to advocate one formof family over another. The emphasis, he said, is to teach the importance ofrelationships and explore the dynamics that lead to either goodrelationships or bad ones.According to Kvamme and sponsors of the bill, an average of 114 marriagesand 75 divorces occur every day in Washington. Half of the divorces involvecouples with children.Kvamme said studies showed that children from broken or single-parentfamilies did worse in school, had a higher chance of getting into troubleand were more likely to perpetuate a cycle of unstable relationships.”This kind of teaching shouldn’t really be considered controversial,” Kvammesaid. “The thrust is not in teaching values, it’s in teaching personalskills.”The wording of the original bill was so strident that lawmakers made itclear that it would not pass. That version required all high schools tooffer family preservation classes as electives. Instead, after somewrangling, legislators settled on a version that required only that thestate superintendent create a family preservation curriculum, one thatschool districts would then be urged to use as a guide.That curriculum, according to the superintendent’s office, would includeclasses on developing “respectful and caring relationships in the family,workplace and community,” and “integrating multiple life roles andresponsibilities in family, work and community settings.”Kvamme and supporters plan to keep pushing the issue.Roxanne Trees, a family-education director for the Seattle School District,said the plan was to lobby the state Board of Education to take the measureone step further by requiring that such classes be taught in high schools.Trees, a former education chair for the American Assn. of Family andConsumer Sciences, an advocacy group, said such classes were part of agrowing national movement to make schools more involved in teaching personaldevelopment skills to young adults.Trees once taught a class on family education and relationships at IngrahamHigh School in Seattle. She said one of her teaching methods involved theuse of role playing exercises to help teenagers get in touch with theiremotions.In one exercise, a student would sit in front of a chalkboard. On the boardwas a long list of emotions, such as anger, resentment, hurt and joy. One byone, other students would get in the subject’s face and make declarativestatements such as “You never do anything right. You make me sick,” or “Youwere a big help, and I appreciate it.”After each statement, the student would point to the word that bestdescribed how the statement made him or her feel. The idea, Trees said, wasthat once the subject pinpointed his or her emotions, the student could thencommunicate it more easily to others.Bernie Bagaoisan, a 1994 Ingraham graduate, recalls Trees’ class. At thetime, Bagaoisan’s parents “worked all the time and had no time” for him andhis younger brother. He said they were basically left to fend forthemselves.”We never learned the basic things about relationships, about treatingpeople with respect and why that’s important,” he said. Bagaoisan creditsTrees’ class with helping improve his relationship with his parents andhis future wife.Rep. Dave Quall, a Democrat and a chief sponsor of the bill, put it thisway:”You can make a case that the most important thing we’ll do in this life isbe part of a family,” he said. And yet many young people “get very littlepreparation in this area. We just thought this would be a way for schoolsto do their part.”

At Smart Marriages, we are so supportive of the concept of teaching marriageskills/knowledge/information to high school students that we have manyworkshop, a keynote and two FREE Institutes – both pre and post conference– on the excellent curricula available and ready to “open box and teach.”We STRONGLY encourage you to find legislators who will support suchlegislation in your state AND/OR simply work with the school systems and getthese curricula available in your Community Healthy Marriage Initiatives.Here are the FREE Institutes:117 One Day – Thursday, June 23 – Free admission. NO CEU. DallasSchool & Youth Marriage Education ProgramsActive Relationships – Amanda WeatherbyBuilding Relationships – Peter Larson, PhDPAIRS for PEERS – Ellen PurcellPARTNERS – Lynne Gold-Bikin, JDRelationship Intelligence – Richard PanzerWe have to start with the kids! These programs – being taughtacross the country – teach students about the skills that arecentral to building and maintaining good marriages. Curricula areeasily adapted to classroom, church or community and youthgroup settings. Teens also encouraged to attend.918 One Day – Monday, June 27 – Free admission. NO CEU. DallasSchool & Youth Marriage Education ProgramsKay Reed, chairLove U2® – Marline Pearson, MACONNECTIONS – Char Kamper, MA, Scott Gardner, PhDLoving Well – Nancy McLaren, MATWe have to start with the kids! These research-based, best practice,developmentally appropriate programs – being taughtacross the country – teach students the skills that arecentral to building and maintaining healthy marriages. Curricula areeasily adapted to classroom, church or community and youthgroup settings. Teens encouraged to attend. See #117.