Spring 2012


Text Questions Traditional Family

Professor Tasha Howe Professor Tasha Howe

PSYCHOLOGY PROFESSOR TASHA HOWE has published a textbook examining the biological, personal and social factors that make families tick. Howe asserts that, for many, the traditional family never existed and urges students to pay attention to their own family’s strengths.

“Marriages and Families in the 21st Century: A Bioecological Approach” examines how outside influences like schools, media and culture affect modern families and looks at common issues like divorce, domestic violence, gender roles and work-life balance.

“I’ve been teaching for many years and had always struggled to find an appropriate textbook for my class,” says Howe, who teaches the undergraduate course “Family Relations in Contemporary Society.”

Marriages and Families Book Cover Submitted Photo

The interdisciplinary textbook includes vignettes from Humboldt County families and encourages readers to analyze their own families using a “strengths-based approach.”

Howe says that many people emphasize a family’s structure—the fact that there are two fathers or a single mother—instead of focusing on family processes like love, openness and discipline. She also argues that the idealized American family of the 1950s, consisting of a breadwinner father, homemaker mother and two children, didn’t exist for most people.

“The truth is that there were no good old days like we envisioned on TV,” Howe says. “Regardless of how wacky or weird your family is, my goal with this book is to get students to focus on the strengths of their family and to analyze the process dynamics at a deeper level.” Howe specializes in family violence, developmental psychopathology and violence prevention at HSU. She is a Fulbright Scholar and nationally certified trainer for the American Psychological Association’s Parents Raising Safe Kids program.