Deﬁ ning Family Policy: An Identity of Its Own
As a family policy teacher, I often am asked to deﬁ ne family policy . My friends often joke that family policy begins at home with decisions about whether to leave the toilet seat up or down. Granted, this “up-or-down” decision is a humorous example of one speciﬁ c family policy established in many households. Yet the lack of clarity in deﬁ ning family policy in the academic and political realms is no joking matter. Scholars have been unable to agree on how to deﬁ ne family policy, but they have agreed that an essential ﬁ rst task in moving the ﬁ eld forward is to reach consensus on deﬁ nitions (Aldous, Dumon, & Johnson, 1980; Moen & Jull, 1995; Monroe, 1995; Wisensale, 2001b), a task that has proven so difﬁ cult that it has been likened to “swimming in molasses or nailing Jell-O to a tree” (Blankenhorn, 1990, p. 5).