Family Life: Past, Present and Future

Course Descriptions

In history, families have been defined as mother, father, and children.  In our current experience, more families differ from that model thancomply with it.  Family structure is evolving. Missing fathers, Single parents, and Blended families are only a few of thechanges to the family structure that have occurred with some significance beginning in the 1950s.

What influences family structure? Do economics and education make a difference?  Are race and ethnicity important factors? What about gender, personality and religion? Is the two parent family necessary? What role do grandparents and great grandparents play in the changing family?

Perhaps the most important question we can ask about the family is what comes next. What are the many ways in which families might be redesigned in the future? How do these changes impact individuals in society.

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Course Competencies

After completing this course, you will be able to:

If you opt to address an H4 competence, you will be able to:

If you opt to address an H2F competence, you will be able to:


If you opt to address an A3A competence, you will be able to:

If you opt to address an FX competence, you will be able to:

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Course Competencies

In this course, you will develop the following competencies:


Competence Statement and Criteria


Can analyze power relationships among racial, social, cultural, or economic groups in the United States. Students are encouraged to describe the unequal power relations between at least two racial, social, cultural, or economic groups in the U.S. Students discuss the historical, sociological, or economic dynamics under which these groups came to be in conflict.


Can interpret experience in relationship to the perspective of a significant thinker or tradition Student can identify and describe an individual, social, or cultural experience as they relate to individuals and within the family context. Students are able to identify family system researchers as we assess both qualitative and quantitative research. Students are challenged to reflect on their own ideas and relate them to articles and research presented in class.


Can explain the development, roles, and maintenance of social institutions. Students will identifies and describes (the family) a specific social institution. Students analyze the dynamics related to development and change of the family.


Can use theory to explain the dynamic aspects of family life when working with individuals and families. Students will Identify significant sociocultural experiences that have impacted family life. Students will Identify criteria used to effectively work with families in transition.

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Course Resources

To buy your books, go to

Required Reading:

Skolnick, A. & Skolnick, J. (2008) Family in transition (17th Edition). Boston: Allyn and Bacon Publishing.

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Course Grading Scale

A = 95 to 100

A- = 91 to 94

B+ = 88 to 90

B = 85 to 87

B- = 81 to 84

C+ = 77 to 80

C = 73 to 76

C- = 69 to 72

D+ = 65 to 68

D = 61 to 64

F = 60 or below


 Please note: Grades lower than a C- do not earn credit or competence in the School for New Learning.

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Course Structure

This course consists of 10 modules. The estimated time to complete each module is 1 week.

To see course due dates, click on the Checklist link on the top navigation bar.  This page contains module-specific checklists and due dates for the work due in the course.

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Week, Module # and Title ReadingsAssignments

Week 1, Module 1: Defining Family

Skolnick & Skolnick:

Reading 1- The Theoretical Importance of Family pg. 15

1.1 Introduction Discussion

1.2 Defining Family Discussion

1.3 Reaction Paper 1/ Reading 1

Week 2, Module 2: Evolving Family Life

Skolnick & Skolnick:

Reading 2 - The Global Revolution in Family and Personal Life pg. 27

2.1 Changing Families Discussion

2.2 Reaction Paper 2/ Reading 2

Week 3, Module 3: Family Values Theory - Conservative, Liberal & Feminist

Skolnick & Skolnick:

Reading 3- The Mommy Wars

Reading 4- Decline of the Family: Conservative, Leberal and Feminist Views pg. 54


3.1 Family Values Discussion

3.2 Reaction Paper 3/ Reading 3

3.3 Reaction Paper 4/Reading 4

3.4 Final Presentation Topic Due

Week 4, Module 4: The Gender Revolution and Family Life

Skolnick & Skolnick:

Reading 5- Destined for Equality pg. 79

Reading 6 - Falling Back on Plan B: The Children of the Gender Revolution Face Uncharted Territory pg. 87


4.1 Role Changes Discussion

4.2 Bem Gender Role Assessment Discussion

4.3 Reaction Paper 5/ Reading 5

4.4 Reaction Paper 6/ Reading 6

Week 5, Module 5: Children and Parents

Skolnick & Skolnick:

Reading 14- New Families: Modern Couples as New Pioneers pg. 193

Reading 18- Diverging Development: The Not so invisible hand of social class in the United States pg. 261

5.1 2 Parents vs. 1 Parent Discussion

5.2 Are Children an Economic liability?

5.3 Reaction Paper 7/ Reading 14

5.4 Reaction Paper 8/ Reading 18

Week 6, Module 6: Family Life and Financial Resources

Skolnick & Skolnick:

Reading 23- Famiies on the Fault Line pg. 341

Reading 24- Middle Class Families in the Age of Insecurity pg. 358

6.1 American Family Spending habits Discussion

6.2 Reaction Paper 9/ Reading 23

6.3 Reaction Paper 10/Reading 24

6.4 Annotated Bibliography for Final Presentation

Week 7 Module 7: Work & Family


Skolnick & Skolnick:

Reading 20- The Second Shift: Working Parents and the Revolution at Home pg. 309

7.1 The Work/Home Crunch Discussion


Week 8, Module 8: Diverse Families

Skolnick & Skolnick:

Reading 25- Diversity Within African American Families pg. 365

Reading 26-Zinn/Wells - Diversity Within Latino Families: New Lessons for Family Social Science pg. 389


8.1 A.A. & Latino Families Discussion

8.2 Reaction Paper 11/ Reading 25

8.3 Reaction Paper 12/ Reading 26


Week 9, Module 9: Diverse Families cont.

Skolnick & Skolnick:

Reading 16- Gay Parenthood and the End of Paternity As We Know It pg. 232


9.1 Gay and Lesbian Families Discussion



Week 10, Module 10: Redefining the Family

Skolnick & Skolnick:

Reading 30- Unmarried with Children pg. 468

10.1 Changing Families Discussion

10.2 Final Presentation Due (For Students Who are Taking the Course for 2 Competencies or for 4 Credit Hours

To see course due dates, click on the Checklist link on the top navigation bar. This page contains module-specific checklists and due dates for the work due in the course.

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Assessment of Learning

Grading Policies and Practices

To complete the course, you must complete each of the assignments as described in the course and submit them to your instructor by the assigned deadline. In addition, you must participate in the course discussion forum by responding to all instructor requests and by interacting with fellow classmates as necessary.

Points are deducted for late work.

Percentage distribution of Assessments

Grading Category:

% of Final Grade:



Reaction Papers


Final Project




All writing assignments are expected to conform to basic college-level standards of mechanics and presentation.

Consider visiting the Writing Center to discuss your assignments for this course or any others. You may schedule appointments (30 or 50 minutes) on an as-needed or weekly basis, scheduling up to 3 hours worth of appointments per week. Online services include Feedback-by-Email and IM conferencing (with or without a webcam). All writing center services are free.

Writing Center tutors are specially selected and trained graduate and undergraduate students who can help you at almost any stage of your writing. They will not do your work for you, but they can help you focus and develop your ideas, review your drafts, and polish your writing. They can answer questions about grammar, mechanics, different kinds of writing styles, and documentation formats. They also can answer questions and provide feedback online, through IM/webcam chats and email. Obviously, the tutors won't necessarily be familiar with every class or subject, but they are able to provide valuable help from the perspective of an interested and careful reader as well as a serious and experienced student-writer.

Schedule your appointments with enough time to think about and use the feedback you'll receive. To schedule a Face-to-Face, Written Feedback by Email, or Online Appointment, visit

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Discussion Forums

Discussion Forums are an important component of your online experience. This course contains discussion forums related to the topics you are studying each week. For requirements on your participation in the Discussion Forums, please see "Course Expectations" in the syllabus.

A Course Q & A discussion forum has also been established to manage necessary, ongoing social and administrative activities. This is where the management and administrative tasks of the course are conducted, and where you can ask ‘process’ questions and receive answers throughout the course. Please feel free to answer any question if you feel you know the answer; this sharing of information is valuable to other students.

Assessment Criteria for Online Discussion Participation

In the online discussions you clearly and consistently link what you are learning in the course to your real life experiences.

Specifically, in order to receive credit for your participation in the online discussion parts of the course it is important that:

Online Participation Guidelines

The following guidelines may encourage you to be active and critical in your participation, only together we will make this course a significant and pleasant learning experience:

Some difficulties at the beginning of an online course are quite normal; solving them is part of every distance learning experience.

College and University Policies

This course includes and adheres to the college and university policies described in the links below:

Academic Integrity Policy (UGRAD)

Academic Integrity Policy (GRAD)

Incomplete Policy

Course Withdrawal Timelines and Grade/Fee Consequences

Accommodations Based on the Impact of a Disability

Protection of Human Research Participants

APA citation format (GRAD)

Additional Course Resources

University Center for Writing-based Learning

SNL Writing Guide

Dean of Students Office

Changes to Syllabus

This syllabus is subject to change as necessary. If a change occurs, it will be clearly communicated to students.


This course was designed and produced by faculty and staff at SNL Online of the School for New Learning of DePaul University.

© 2017 School for New Learning, DePaul University. All Rights Reserved by SNL.