Family Relationships: Middle & Later Years
7400:441/541-001       Meeting Monday 5:20-7:55 pm    Room 115 Schrank Hall South     Fall, 2011
  Email Prof. David Witt    Office Hours: 30 minutes before class and by appointment     Office 215f SHS  Phone: 972-6044  
Prof. Witt's Home Page                                              Relevant Web Links
Course Evaluations:

Course Description: A study of individual and family development in the middle and later years of life. The course will focus on demographic, economic, social, physical, and generational changes as well as relationships between and within families. The diversity of aging in society will also be examined by race, social class and gender.
Course Objectives are to:
  • provide a description of the aging process using a life course perspective.
  • describe the changes associated with middle and later life families, including, but not limited to demographics, economic, physical, social and relationship changes.
  • examine social policies related to aging and their impact on families.
  • review current literature and research related to a variety of topics concerning middle and later years.
  • understand terminology used to describe various aspects of families in middle and and later years.
Grading:  Your grade will consist of:
  • three take home essay-type examinations - 100 points each
  • four article reviews - 25 points each
  • a term paper worth 150 points - graduate students only.
  • attendance points worth 50 points
In addition, up to 50 points for attendance will be applied to your grade, bringing the total possible earned points to 600 for undergraduates, 700 points for graduate students.  Calculating your class average is done by dividing the number of points you've earned by 600/700.  Letter grades will be assigned according to the university's standard grading system. 

Note: This is a senior level class requiring advanced analytical and theoretical perspectives.    that managing your time is your responsibility. The due dates for each assignment are listed on the course outline below.  Mark your calendars and give yourself plenty of lead time in order to turn assignments in by their due date.

  There will be three (3) examinations of 100 points each. Each examination will cover the material presented in class, in online notes for the class, and in the textbook. Examinations are online and accessible  through the Springboard dropbox.

Article Reviews: (4) @ 25 points per article review; Total: 100 points  Students are expected to read four (4) professional publications on any topic relating to family relationships in middle and later years. The purpose of this assignment is to expose students to the professional literature which exists on a variety of topics concerning individual and family development, specifically in middle and later years. The articles selected should be from recently published (2000-2006), academic journals. Popular magazines, books, websites, and newspapers are not acceptable for these assignments. Your reviews will be graded using the Article Review Form  found here.  Copy the form, then enter your review information inthe appropriate place on the form. 

**Professional publications are academic research journals found in the library and through the library's electronic journal portal. Websites outside these parameters are not to be used for any assignments. Some examples of academic/research journals are: American Sociological Review,  International Journal of Aging and Human Development, Aging,  Gerontologist,Journal of Aging and Social Policy, Journal of Aging Studies, Journal of Applied Gerontology, Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, Journal of Family Issues, Journal of Women and Aging, Journal of Marriage and Family, Psychology &Aging, Social Problems, Social Science Quarterly, Journal of Health and Social Behavior, to name just a few.  Sample Article Review 1           Sample Article Review 2

Term Paper for Graduate Students Only :
225 points for graduate students.  Your general topic is retirement and all the potential difficulties for the retiree and his/her family.
  • First - Using current research and information from professional publications (you may use the articles reviewed for this class as sources), discuss retirement and aging trends and issues including demographic, economic, and housing issues, health, changes in retirement policy at state and federal levels, or any other issue effecting retirement.
  • Second - has a main concern of your term paper, describe in detail how retirement programs have failed some in our society, and the prospect of success or failure for a relatively young person who is starting their career.  You may select a specific retirement program or not, but you should provide details about how someone can successfully navigate aging for themselves and their families (including their aging parents and their adult children). Point out the advantages and disadvantages of the program you are describing. 
  • Finally, discuss how the first and second parts of your term paper  may effect your decision as to when to retire and whether it may be necessary to supplement your income in order to do so. Describe here contingency plans you should have in place and , in as exact terms as possible, what your worth should be at that time.  Right now, my plan is to have each student present a 15-20 minute description of their plan.  The research paper should be kept to approximately ten (10) typewritten double spaced pages with at least ten (10) professional sources,  Term papers will be graded using the following criteria found here, 
  • Term papers and article reviews may be more focused on current student academic interests.
Attendance: Regular attendance is expected and necessary. Students are expected to arrive on time for class and demonstrate respect for each other.  Students are encouraged to participate in class discussions and group activities. Students who participate in class and attend regularly will be rewarded with points (0-2 absences=50 points, 3=40, 4=30, 5=20,
6 or more=0 points)

Course Outline / Assignment Due Dates:
I will be addng content to the course outline over the entire course.
Be prepared to visit each week's topics
and assignments the weekend before class time.

Week of Term
Discussion This Week
Online Notes for Discussion This Week
Readings and Written Assignments for Next Week
Week 1

Introduction to the course, syllabus
 Introduction and Overview
Overview of Course
Theoretical Concerns

Read the online material for this week and next.
Formulate your strategy for completing the assignments.
Week 2

Theoretical Discussion
Planning Family Life Long Term
- Developing a Long Term Plan
- Material World
-view the Material World Slideshow
Read the online material for next week
Continue to plan for end of the term
Select Articles for Review
Week 3 Labor Day Week 3 Labor Day - No Class
Week 3 Labor Day Continue reading and exploring
Week 4
Budgetary Matters from Points Along the Family Lifecycle

The Family Lifecycle 
-66 ways to Save Money
- How Inflation Works 
- Saving for Specific Things
Article Review 1 - Due in the dropbox next week
Article Reviews from Previous Classes -1
Article Reviews from Previous Classe - 2
Week 5

The Sociological Imagination, Public Issues & Private Troubles
The Sociological Imagination,
Public Issues & Private Troubles

Exam 1 - Due in the dropbox next week
Read the online material for next week
Week 6

Centrality of Intimacy in Later Life
Centrality of Intimacy in Later Life
- Values Attitudes and Goals
Read the online material for next week
Week 7

The Value of Older Family Members
Planning for Later Life
Grandparenting - Skills - Games - Substitutions for Fishing
- Saving for the Future
- Managing Time
Article Review 2 - Due in the dropbox next week
Read the online material for next week
Week 8

Transitions at Work & at Home
Notes on Aging
Transitions at Work & at Home
- Communication
-Managing Human Resources in the Family
Read the online material for next week
Week 9

Retirement - Part I
-Keeping the Family Record
- Managing Work and Family
- Saving for the Future
Read the online material for next week
Week 10

Challenges/Possibilities in Later Life - 1

Challenges/Possibilities in Later Life
 Arguing Effectively
The Cost of Television
Article Review 3 - Due in the dropbox next week
Read the online material for next week
Week 11

Challenges & Possibilities in Later Life-2 Challenges/Possibilities in Later Life
- Love & Sexuality
- Managing Environmental Resources
Exam 2 - Due in the dropbox next week
Read the online material for next week
Week 12

Retirement - Part 2
- Credit Card Issues  
- Reusing Vacations
- Developing Life Skills in Coming Generations

Week 13

Simplification and Rituals

The Simple Life
- Family Rituals
- How to Maintain a Guitar
- Home Cooking
- Paper Dolls
Article Review 4 - Due in the dropbox next week
Read the online material for next week
Week 14

Catch up Day

- Future Challenges 
- Avoiding Doomsday

Read the online material for next week
Week 15

Final Course Wrap-up

Grad. Student Research Paper Due by Monday of Finals Week
Finals Week
Final Exam due by Thu.of Finals Week
Here's your final exam for downloading
Final Due by Thursday of Finals Week in the Dropbox

  • Alien, K. R., Blieszner, R., & Roberto, K. A. (2000). Families in the middle and later years: A review and critique of research in the 1990s. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 911-926.
  • Bee, H. (2000). The journey of adulthood (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  • Benokraitis, N. V. (2002). Marriages and families: Changes, choices, and constraints (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ-. Prentice Hall.
  • Bengston, V. L., Schaie, K. W., & Burton, L. (Eds.). (1994). Adult intergenerational relations: Effects of societal change. New York: Springer.
  • Binstock, R. H., & George, L. K. (Eds.). (2001). Handbook of aging and the social sciences (5th ed.). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
  • Blieszner, R., & Bedford, V. H. (Eds.). (1995). Aging and the family: Theory and research. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
  • Boss, P. G., Doherty, W. J., LaRossa, R. L., Schumm, W. R., & Steinmetz, S. K. (Eds.). (1993).
  • Sourcebook of family theories and methods: A contextual approach. New York: Plenum Press.
  • Bould, S., Sanborn, B., & Reif, L. (1989). Eighty-five plus: The oldest old. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Brubaker, T. H. (Ed.) (1990). Family relationships in later life (2nd ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
  • Brubaker, T. H. (Ed.) (1996). Vision 2010:Families & aging. Minneapolis: National Council on Family Relations.
  • Cicirelli, V. G. (1995). Sibling relationships across the life span. New York: Plenum Press. Connidis, I. A. (2001). Family ties & aging. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Cox, C. B. (Ed.) (2000). To grandmother's house we go and stay: Perspectives on custodial grandparents. New York: Springer.
  • Cox, H. G. (2001). Later life: The realities of aging (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  • Erikson, E. H., Erikson, J. M., & Kivnick, H. Q. (1986). Vital involvement in old age. New York: W. W. Norton.
  • Gottman, J. M. (1999). The seven principles for making marriage work. New York: Crown.
  • Hooyman, N. R., & Kiyak, H. A. (1999). Social gerontology: A multidisciplinary perspective. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
  • Hoyer, W. J., & Roodin, P. A. (2003). Adult development and aging (5th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill. Kivnick, H. Q. (1982). The meaning of grandparenthood. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Lamanna, M. A., & Riedmann, A. (2000). Marriages and families: Making choices in a diverse society (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
  • Lemme, B. H. (1999). Development in adulthood (2nd ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Lopata, H. 2. (1996). Current widowhood: Myths and realities. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Course Outline: Family Relationships in Middle and Later Years (7400:390)     4
  • Markson, E. W., & Hollis-Sawyer, L. A. (Eds.). (2000). Intersections of aging: Readings in social gerontology. Los Angeles: Roxbury.
  • Newman, B. M., & Newman, P. R. (1999). Development through life: A psychosocial approach (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
  • Papalia, D. E., Sterns, H. L., Feldman, R. D., & Camp, C. J. (2002). Adult development and aging (2nd ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill.
  • Parasuraman, S., & Greenhaus, J. H. (Eds.). (1999). Integrating work and family: Challenges and choices for a changing world. Westport, CT: Praeger.
  • Price, S. J., McKenry, P. C., & Murphy, M. J. (2000). Families across time: A life course perspective. Los Angeles: Roxbury.
  • Rossi, A. S., & Rossi, P. H. (1990). Of human bonding: Parent-child relations across the life course. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.
  • Schaie, K. W., & Willis, S. L. (2002). Adult development and aging (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  • Schulz, R., & Salthouse, T. (1999). Adult development and aging: Myths and emerging realities (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  • Seccombe, K., & Warner, R. (in press). Marriages, families, and close relationships: The influence of gender, race and class. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
  • Smith, D. B., & Moen, P. (1998). Spousal influence on retirement: His, her, and their perceptions. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 60, 734-744.
  • Walker, A. J., Manoogian-O'Dell, M., McGraw, L. A., & White, D. L. G. (2001). Families in later life: Connections and transitions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.