The 21st Century Family: read all about it

The Greater Good Science Center is “devoted to the scientific understanding of happy and compassionate individuals, strong social bonds, and altruistic behavior.” As a member of the extended Univesity of California, Berkeley family as an alum and a sometime staffer, I’ve known about the center’s work for some time, going back to when it was the “Center for the Development of Peace and Well-Being.” You just don’t see gentle words like “peace” and “well-being” associated with research think tanks often enough, I thought, when I first learned of the place. Since then I’ve made it a point to keep track of their goings-on.

Of particular interest to me has been The Greater Good Science Center’s work disseminating ideas for parents interested in raising happy and emotionally literate kids. The Science of Raising Happy Kids portion of the Greater Good website is fantastic, and worth checking into regularly (so much so that I’m parking it on my little parenting resources link list).


The Center also keeps a blog, recently spiffed up, and publishes a magazine, to which I subscribe. Its managing editor, Jeremy Adam Smith, writes a blog, Daddy Dialectic, that has long been a beacon of light for forward-thinking parents everywhere. Or it has been for me. Gives me hope about how many hetero men want and need liberation from constrained, gender-split parenting roles every bit as much as I have.

The Greater Good magazine’s fall issue is on The 21st Century Family. If this blog were a class with assigned reading, I’d require at least a short review on the issue from all students, since it containes essays by Stephanie Coontz on the rise of the new family, and by fellow Confessions of the Other Mother contributor Amie Miller on recent research into well-being of children in same-sex families. Coontz’ work on the history and current truths about the American family is, to put it simply, indispensible. She debunks the notion that families have ever been one thing (pick that one thing), and that any changes in their patterns spell their certain doom. Amie is a fantastic writer, at work on her own book about her life as a lesbian (non-bio) mom.

Bay Area folks can go listen to some of the contributors to this issue at a panel on the Berkeley campus this week. Here’s the official description of it:

“Marriage has changed more in the last 30 years than in the previous
3,000,” writes historian Stephanie Coontz in the new “21st Century Family”
issue of Greater Good magazine. Today’s families are in a complex period of
transition, where old problems, such as inequality, are being addressed and
replaced by new ones, such as confusion about gender roles for spouses.

To celebrate the release of its new issue, Greater Good is hosting a panel
discussion that will help Bay Area couples deal with modern day issues
their grandparents could scarcely have imagined: the challenges of being a
dual-income couple; the questions faced by gay and lesbian parents and
stay-at-home dads; and the obstacles confronted by all families today in
order to find time for one another and make ends meet.

The panel will feature noted family historian Stephanie Coontz, UC Berkeley
psychologists Philip and Carolyn Cowan, and internationally known author
and therapist Joshua Coleman. They will discuss their research and
observations on the 21st century family, and offer suggestions for how
contemporary couples can still thrive during this period of intense change.

When: Wednesday, October 17, 3:30 – 5:00 pm (Reception with light
refreshments beforehand, from 3:00-3:30)

Where: The Lipman Room on the 8th floor of Barrows Hall, on the UC Berkeley campus. Barrows Hall is located off of Bancroft Way at Barrows Lane and Eshleman Road, on the south side of the Berkeley campus. A map, parking information, and directions to the Lipman Room can be found here.

Tickets: This is a free event.

I am totally going to this thing, and would love to hook up with kindred spirits there. I’ll be the obviously underslept mannish lesbian sitting toward the front taking feverish notes on everything.

2 thoughts on “The 21st Century Family: read all about it”

  1. Ditto.

    Marriage has changed more in the last 30 years than in the previous
    3,000

    Encouraging words. But the way things have gone so far in the first decade, I hope this century ends far better than it started!

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