Families can alleviate 'time crunch' by working with, not for, professionals

November 30, 2005

The greatest untapped resources for strengthening families may be the knowledge, wisdom, and lived experiences of families and their communities. An article published in the latest issue of Family Relations reviews the evidence of a growing phenomenon among many families: that of the overscheduled child and underconnected family. Specifically, children have become far busier during the last two decades of the twentieth century and these changes have increasingly led to time-intensive, hyper-competitive activities, less unstructured play time for children, and less family time including meals.

In order to meet this growing cultural challenge, the authors outline a new model of community engagement where citizens (both lay and family professionals) work together to create community-wide changes. In this model, called the Families and Democracy Model, "professionals serve as resources whose knowledge and expertise is 'on tap,' not 'on top,'" the authors explain. It is an alternative to the traditional provider/consumer role where professionals are seen as the experts that come armed with solutions. In this model, every person brings something different to learn and contribute and citizens are engaged at every stage of the project.

The authors use case examples of their own work in the community to outline grounding principles and a process for action that can be adopted by family professionals working in their own communities. The authors experience suggests that the model can be used in a variety of settings for a number of potential community problems or issues, having used the model to organize over ten communities over the past five years. The authors explain that in this model, "...family professionals and citizens come together to tackle problems of mutual interest where every person brings a different kind of expertise."
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This study is published in the November issue of Family Relations. Media wishing to receive a PDF please contact JournalNews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net

Since 1951, Family Relations: Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Studies has covered areas of critical importance to family professionals. The journal's content emphasizes family research with implications for intervention, education, and public policy. It is published by the National Council on Family Relations. Information about the National Council on Family Relations can be found at www.ncfr.org.

Jared Anderson is a PhD. student in family science at the University of Minnesota. He has been engaged in community projects using the Families and Democracy Model since 2002 and is also a Marriage and Family Therapist. Mr. Anderson is available for media questions and interviews.

William Doherty is a professor in the department of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota and is the director of the Marriage and Family Therapy program. Dr. Doherty developed the Families and Democracy Model and has led or mentored professional/community members in over ten pilot Families and Democracy initiatives in various communities on diverse issues. Dr. Doherty is available for media questions and interviews.

Blackwell Publishing is the world's leading society publisher, partnering with more than 600 academic and professional societies. Blackwell publishes over 750 journals annually and, to date, has published close to 6,000 text and reference books, across a wide range of academic, medical, and professional subjects.

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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