chapter  3
17 Pages

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).