A new Web site developed by Brigham Young University family life faculty and their students provides practical scholarly and faith-based information for strengthening and enriching families of all denominations. It's now accessible at *~*http://www.foreverfamilies.net*~*.
Organized around the themes of "The Family: A Proclamation to the World," a pro-family document authored in 1995 by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the "Forever Families" site is designed to help parents, couples and individuals instill principles from the proclamation in their homes and communities.
James M. Harper, director of the School of Family Life, says the site was created to deliver social science information in layman-friendly terms to the public, regardless of their religious persuasion.
"Although the proclamation on the family was written by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it contains principles to which many religious people adhere," says Harper. "At the Forever Families site, visitors will be able to discover how social science supports these principles and how to apply them in their daily lives."
The site contains articles based on information culled from scholarly articles that have appeared in recent issues of the "Journal of Marriage and the Family," the journal "Child Development," the journal "Family Relations" and others. Additionally, longer articles with more detailed research data are accessible.
Patricia Cerone, the Family Life Program Manager of the Family Life Support Center at Hill Air Force Base, was asked to review the site prior to its launch.
"Resources like the Forever Families Web site are imperative to getting the word out that legitimate services and information that benefit families are available," says Cerone, a Protestant. "Visitors to the site can click on whichever topic applies to their situation and get information that might help them solve family problems or help them in the healing process."
Jeffry H. Larson, professor of marriage and family therapy and one of the site's contributing authors, points to research showing increasing public interest in trustworthy resources that teach how to better families and marriages.
"The Forever Families site is based on credible research information," says Larson. "Not all the information out there is reliable, but this site's content is closely controlled and edited - people can use it with confidence."
The site addresses topics including: principles of successful marriages and families, supportive extended families, physical and spiritual needs of children and communities strengthening families.
Stephen Duncan, a professor of family life who has overseen the project, says that an optional link to further teachings by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is available at the bottom of each article.
"The 'LDS Perspective' link is an effort to serve those church members interested in what their leaders have said regarding the information presented on the site," says Duncan.
More than 20 BYU undergraduate and graduate students working under the direction of faculty members compiled the research information and used it to write articles in an easy-to-read format.
"Research papers can get quite technical in describing research methods and statistical analysis, most of which don't interest the average reader," says Duncan. "We've distilled the information into magazine-style articles that offer a simplified way of looking at otherwise complicated topics."
Student writer Kristi Tanner, a senior majoring in marriage, family and human development from Taber, Alberta, says the project has been a culmination of four years of coursework. Assisting with the research gave her the opportunity to become versed in specific areas within her chosen field and to see the real-life application of research information.
"With this project, I'm basically studying the research that goes into a textbook. I feel like I'm on the cutting edge of my future profession," says Tanner.
Larson says he's happy for the work that students, colleagues and technicians have done to create the site and predicts that it will draw significant traffic.
"In the course of my professional life, I've learned how thirsty people are for good information to make their marriage and family lives better."