Connecting Families: A Relationship Enhancement Program

Connecting Families: A Relationship Enhancement Program

Connecting Families: A Relationship Enhancement Program

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Connecting
Families
College of Agricultural Sciences
Cooperative Extension
A Research-Based
Relationship
Development
Program for Adults
Natalie M. Ferry, D.Ed.
Connecting Families
Table of Contents
Curriculum Overview ...................................................................................................................1
Connecting Families: A Relationship Enhancement Program.....................................................3
SESSION ONE
Understanding the Couple Relationship .......................................................................................5
Handout 1 - Relationship Values Sheet ..........................................................................12
Handout 2 - Expectations in Action................................................................................13
Session Materials 1 – Relationship Values Slips ............................................................14
Session Materials 2 – Assumptions Situations ...............................................................15
SESSION TWO
Mastering the Challenges of Conflict .........................................................................................16
Handout 1 – Emotional Bank Account ...........................................................................22
Session Materials 1 – It’s Fred’s Fault ...........................................................................23
Session Materials 2 – Constructive Griping ...................................................................24
Background Information 1 – “I” Statement Summary ...................................................25
SESSION THREE
Working as a Team .....................................................................................................................26
Handout 1 – Relationship Indicator Assessment ............................................................33
Handout 2 – Relatio nship Indicator Scoring Guide ........................................................35
Session Materials 1 – Speaker – Listener Role Play Situations ......................................36
SESSION FOUR
Planning for Success ...................................................................................................................38
Handout 1 – “I” Statement Summary .............................................................................44
Handout 2 – Speaker – Listener Technique ....................................................................45
Handout 3 – Goal Analysis ............................................................................................46
EVALUATION
Connecting Families Program Evaluation Overview .....................................................47
Connecting Families Program Survey ............................................................................48
Section One Survey Scoring Key ...................................................................................51
Section Two Scoring Key...............................................................................................52
Section Three Scoring Key.............................................................................................53
Connecting Families Participant Pre and Post Assessment Tracking Scores Sheet .......54
RESEARCH FOUNDATION
Connecting Families Program Research Foundation......................................................55
Communication Based Relationship Enhancement Program .........................................57
Changing American Family ............................................................................................58
Who Are “Fragile Families?” .........................................................................................61
Domestic Violence’s Effect on Marriage ........................................................................62
Family Structure’s Impact on Children’s Development .................................................64
Marriage Success and Divorce........................................................................................67
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Overview 1 2004
Overview
Connecting Families is a research-based program that is designed to provide couples and
individuals with an in-depth understanding of the key factors that influence a
relationship’s success. The goals of the curriculum are to provide an understanding of
the interdependent nature of relationships and enhance the skills that can support
successful relationship interaction. The program consists of four workshops most
typically delivered in two hour sessions. The sessions are interactive, involving
discussion and hands-on activities. These workshops are educational, rather than
therapeutic in nature. They are designed to be facilitated by a trained educator.
Objectives
The program is designed for individuals and couples who are seeking information and
skills that can assist them in understanding and improving their interpersonal
relationships. Upon completion, participants will
Session 1: Understanding the Couple Relationship
· Identify their personal values, expectations and assumptions about marriage.
· Recognize the importance that values, expectations and assumptions play in
building positive relationships.
· Become comfortable working within the group.
Session 2: Meeting the Challenge of Conflict
· Recognize that conflict is a natural aspect of interpersonal relationships.
· Identify behaviors that reinforce and accelerate the cycle of conflict.
· Develop strategies to break the cycle of conflict and increase the quality of
relationships.
Session 3: Working as a Team
· List strategies that can strengthen relationships.
· Identify the typical negative indicators of relationship communication.
· Demonstrate the appropriate use of the speaker – listener technique.
Session 4: Panning for Success
· Identify typical behaviors that escalate anger in a relationship.
· Demonstrate the appropriate use of negotiation skills
· Set goals for the relationship.
· List strategies that increase the quality and commitment within the relationship.
Curriculum Comments
The curriculum provides trained facilitators with four core sessions that teach the basics
to gaining a clearer understanding of the components that most strongly influence a
relationship. The skills that are taught in the sessions are skills that need repeated use to
become imbedded in an individual’s repertoire of natural reaction. The curriculum
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Overview 2 2004
sessions cover important topics that are meant to assist individuals in learning about their
own relationship’s interaction. This is a beginning to strengthening a relationship. With
continued usage of the skills and information, individuals can make changes in their
relationship. It is the goal of the curriculum to provide information and tools to
strengthen and connect families.
Connecting Families Creators
Dr. Natalie M. Ferry, author of the curriculum, is the coordinator of special program
initiatives for Penn State Cooperative Extension. In this role, she develops curriculum
materials for both adults and youth and provides statewide leadership for programming in
this area and workforce development. She has a doctorate degree in Adult Education.
Judy Ann Fitzgerald developed the design and layout of the educational materials. She
has created numerous curriculum, newsletters and web page layouts as a staff assistant
for Penn State Cooperative Extension.
For More Information, Contact:
Dr. Natalie M. Ferry
Coordinator of Special Program Initiatives
Penn State Cooperative Extension
401 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: (814) 863-6150
Email nmf3@psu.edu
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Overview 3 2004
Connecting Families: A Relationship Enhancement Program
“Connecting Families” is an educational intervention that is designed for adults who are
engaged in a relationship or entering into one. The program sessions can assist various
audiences in learning more information about how relationships develop and function.
Embedded in each session are skills that can enhance the relationships viability and
happiness.
Relevant Audiences
Cohabitating and Visiting Couples
“Connecting Families” is designed to be used to assist low-income married, cohabitating
and visiting couples to learn more about what are the indicators of a happy supportive
martial relationship. For many individuals living in a low- income context, cohabitation is
the relationship structure of choice. It is imperative that facilitators have an
understanding of this evolving family structure and the reasons for its increasing
prevalence in society. Cohabitation has become a common living arrangement especially
in many low-income communities (Refer in the Research Section to the article, Changing
American Family). Providing relationship building skills for cohabiting and visiting
couples requires the facilitator to have sensitivity for the reasons that individuals are
engaged in these forms of relationships. The manner in which individuals living in
“fragile families” view marriage is not the same as a middle class perspective (Refer in
the Research Section to the article, Who Are Fragile Families?). Of equal importance is
being knowledgeable of the prevalence of domestic violence in this population and the
outcome that it has upon couple relationships and the choice to marry (Refer in the
Research Section to the article, Domestic Violence’s Effect on Marriage). Domestic
violence is an aspect of the lives of many low-income women and children. Facilitators
may encounter individuals who have experienced abuse as a child or adult. Domestic
violence can be an issue for these individuals in the decision process concerning
marriage. Facilitators need to be prepared to be able to assist individuals by providing
information about appropriate agencies within the community that can address issues of
abuse.
The impact of various family structures have upon children’s development is of concern
of policy makers. Many view marriage as the only form of family structure that has a
positive impact upon children’s development. However, the research community still is
exploring how various family structures affect