Important, Rigorous Government Study Finds Positive Impacts of RE Programs

by Alan J. Hawkins

The bottom-line (at the top): There has been a healthy debate over how effective relationship education (RE) programs for disadvantaged couples have been. Over the 12 years, the Administration for Children and Families has been pursuing a policy of support for RE programs to improve couple relationships and family stability. The mixed results so far call for more research. That’s why I have been anxiously awaiting the results of the Parents and Children Together evaluation study, another rigorous test of the effectiveness of RE. Good news! This study found positive effects on a range of important outcomes. Continue reading “Important, Rigorous Government Study Finds Positive Impacts of RE Programs”

Book Review — Proposing Prosperity: Marriage Education Policy and Inequality in America

by Alan J. Hawkins

The Bottom-line First: While I value the contribution Jennifer Randles’ book makes to the field, I have some beefs with her analysis of federal policy efforts to promote relationship education. She argues that relationship education is the wrong approach because healthy relationships and marriages are a product of social and economic circumstances that provide a nurturing environment in which relationships can flourish. She asserts an economic threshold below which romantic relationship aspirations are essentially hopeless. Yes, we need to work to improve the social and economic ecology that nurtures romantic relationships, that makes it easier for love to thrive. But ultimately, her argument inadvertently minimizes the dignity of those she sincerely hopes to help. As she documents, participants in the program she studied in-depth overwhelmingly enjoyed and appreciated the program for the message of hope it delivered, despite their difficult circumstances. They valued the knowledge and skills that gave them a sense of agency to achieve their relationship aspirations, even knowing the obstacles ahead. Randles worries that hope is false and insensitive. I disagree.  Continue reading “Book Review — Proposing Prosperity: Marriage Education Policy and Inequality in America”