Effective Living. Unit Four: The Family and Effective Living

Introductory Statement


Course Content

Teaching Notes and Suggestions

Topic 1


1. Why do most people marry and establish homes?

(a) Emotional or psychological needs.

(i) Desire to love.

(ii) Desire to be loved.

(iii) Desire to be with people.

(iv) Desire for recognition and approval.

(v) Desire for security.

(vi) Desire to believe in permanent values of life.

(b) Desire to establish a family.

(c) Effect of social custom or social acceptancy.

(d) Role of economic security.

(e) Role of social status.




Topic 1 may be introduced by a brief review of earlier units on the family, with particular stress on the traditional functions of the family.  From this can be developed the general reasons why people marry.

It should be noted that while the great majority of people do marry, some do not find marriage and the establishment of a home essential for satisfactory adjustment.  An interesting project would be the compilation of a list of reasons why people do not marry, and the compensatory factors.

In this topic, vital statistics both for Canada and for the Province can be used to develop interesting graphs and charts.  Graphs could be made to illustrate:

(a) Proportion of men and women at the various age levels.

(b) Proportion of married men and women in the population.

(c) Life expectancies of married versus single men and women.

(d) Number of marriages per year for the past few years at the various age levels.

(e) Number of divorces per year compared with total number of marriages, and also with the number of marriages per year.

If it is considered desirable, the class might list all the reasons why people marry or do not marry.  These might be evaluated.  This would not be at all scientific, but the discussion arising from it should be of value.

Topic 2 Course Content

Topic 2 Teaching Notes and Suggestions

2. What are some of the bases on which one should choose a life partner?

(a) Choices are often made on grounds such as:

(i) Physical attraction.

(ii) Community of interests.

(iii) Outstanding characteristics.

(iv) Similarity of various qualities - physical, intellectual, social, emotional.

(v) Similar social groups.


(b) Other influential factors are:

(i) Attitude of parents.

(ii) Schools attended.

(iii) Type of community.

(iv) Nature of occupation.

(v) Religious beliefs.


(c) Factors which first consideration are:

(i) Personality traits.

(ii) Family background.

(iii) Educational background.

(iv) Religious beliefs.

(v) Age.

(vi) Financial ability to set up a home.

(vii) Occupation.

(viii) Health

(ix) Respect for each other's standards.


Topic 2 has three main sections: (a) The bases on which marriages are usually made; (b) other factors which have an influence; (c) the factors that are considered to be of the greatest importance for success in marriage.  The topic should be developed by means of discussion.

Statistics from various surveys on success in marriage, and what young people look for when they marry, may be found in the references.  Committees of the class might illustrate these by charts and posters.

Individual members of the class might list those factors which they consider of the greatest importance in choosing a mate.  These could be summarized for a class list of the ten most commonly cited.  There should be no discussion at this time, but at the end of the unit the project should be repeated, comparisons with the original list should be made, and discussion should take place.


Questions for discussion of this topic might include the following:

Should a person be as careful in selecting a partner for life as he would in selecting a business partner?

List some qualities of personality that would help in building a successful marriage, and some that would do the opposite.

How does this list of good qualities differ from one you would prepare for building a friendship?

Are fortune tellers of any kind competent to advise on marriage or predict success in it?

Would marriages be happier if they were arranged by parents or by expert marriage counsellors?

To what extent, if any, should parents try to influence their children in choosing life partners?  (Previous discussion on the responsibility of parents with respect to adolescents and their friends should be recalled here.)

What influence has the school in choosing a mate?

Do girls ever choose a position because it gives them a better opportunity to meet eligible men?

What is your opinion of "Lonely Hearts Clubs" and other such organizations?

What is your opinion of using the personal columns of the newspapers as a means of meeting prospective life partner?

What were the "bride ships" of French Canada?  How successful do you think those marriages would be?  How happy would they be?

What is the importance of religion to happiness in life and in marriage?  Do similar religious beliefs and practices tend to help in making happy homes?

Are these statements true?

(a)  Both partners should have a common social background.

(b)  Both partners should be actively interested in two or three community activities.

(c)  Each partner should have a hobby or an interest (apart from work) in which the other takes no part.

(d)  Opposites attract

Would you prefer as husband or wife a person as bright as yourself, brighter than yourself, less bright than yourself?  What is the opinion of experts?

Is educational background important in choosing a life partner?  Why?

Are these statements correct?

(a)  Very early marriages often break up.

(b)  Maximum happiness for both partners is most likely if the man is from three to five years older.

(c)The demands of modern civilization are unduly delaying marriage for youth.  (The teacher should stress that statistics and averages cannot be applied to predict success or failure in any given case.  They should merely point out what the chances are.)

Is the marriage of the poor girl to the rich man's son likely to be successful?  Why?

Is beauty important to marital success?  What do the advertisements say?  What do the experts say?

What is meant by these quotations?

(a)  Love and nothing else, very soon is nothing else.

(b)  Never marry but for love, but see that thou lovest what is lovely.

(c)  Marry not the maid who is the only good maid in the family.

(d)  Every man is an omnibus in which his ancestors ride.

In what ways is emotional security necessary for a successful marriage?

How large should the income be before entering upon married life?  Can this be answered without considering the taste and previous standards of living of the partners?

The caption of a recent cartoon reads:  "Oh, Iím glad he hasn't any money.  Don't you think it's more romantic if we just face the world with our bare hands?"  What is your opinion?

do some occupations tend to make it more difficult to have a successful marriage?  Why?

Is it true that a woman is doing a man a favour by marrying him?

Should a woman marry a man hoping to "reform" or change him?

To what extent is good health needed for successful marriage?

What is meant by happiness or success in marriage?

Is this statement true: "Marriages fail chiefly because people are unprepared for them and do not know how to make them last"?

How important is physical attraction to a successful marriage?


Topic 3 Course Content

Topic 3 Teaching Notes and Suggestions

3.  What are the customary stages in choosing a life partner?

(a) "Dating."

(b) Courtship.

(c) Engagement.

(d) Marriage.

Topic 3 serves mainly as an introduction to the rest of the unit. Its purpose is to indicate that three distinct periods normally occur before marriage.  Pupils might be asked, without previous discussion of the topic, to give their own definitions of "dating", courtship, and engagement, and to outline the purposes of each period.

Topic 4 Content

Topic 4: Teaching Notes and Suggestions

4. What are the purposes and characteristics of "dating"?

(a) To have congenial companionship.

(b) To get used to being with other young people.

(c) To become acquainted with the opposite sex.

(d) To develop normal heterosexual relationships.


Topic 4 deals with the adolescent period when boys and girls start to go out together, sometimes in groups, sometimes as couples, but very seldom with any idea that engagement or marriage is to follow.

One method of outlining the topic would be to discuss the various stages of "dating":

(a) Very young children who like to be with others, but who are entirely self-centered.

(b) The intermediate school stage when boys go with boys and girls with girls, with occasional antagonism between the sexes.

(c) The early adolescent period when boys and girls are becoming aware of the opposite sex.  They may attend mixed parties, but usually in groups.

(d) The older adolescent stage when they begin to pair off in couples.

(e) This is generally followed by a definitely in mind -- the courtship period.

(f) The engagement period when they have announced their intention to marry.

The "question-box technique" may be used to good advantage in this and in succeeding topics.  Questions about "dating," courtship, and marriage may be written out by the pupils and handed in anonymously.  The answers may either be given by the teacher or developed by class discussion.

The questions and activities that follow are suggestions for developing the topic:

(a)  Make a survey of opinions of the class on the ideas conveyed by the following modern expressions and practices:  Frequency of "dates" lateness of "dates," "blind dates," "Dutch treats," "going steady," "petting," "good-night kiss," "pick-up dates," wearing a boy's (or girl's) school or class pin, cost of "dates."

(b)  What responsibilities have parents for setting the hour for young people being home; for controlling the number of "dates" and type of social events; and for advising on choice of partners?

(c)  How can girls return the compliment of being asked for a "date"?

(d)  Have each member of the class list some practical questions about "dating" which he would like to have answered.  Have the unsigned lists collected and the questions tabulated by a committee for use in a panel discussion.  Could the questions be used in a "Questions and Answers:  column in the school paper?

(e)  What is the "ideal" girl (or boy) "date" like?

(f)  What makes a "date" successful?

(g)  Why do older people object to teen-agers  "going steady"?  What do they mean by "puppy love"?

(h)  What is a "crush"?

Discuss these statements:

(i) Unless a boy is thinking of marriage, it matters little which girls he goes with or what standards they have.

 (ii) A girl has a greater responsibility than a boy for establishing a right standards of conduct.

Topic 5 Content

Topic 5 Teaching Notes and Suggestions

 5. What are the purposes and characteristics of the courtship period?

(a) A time for the discovery of mutual suitability for marriage.

(b) A time for the discovery of mutual love and affection beyond physical or biological attraction.

(c) A means for transitions of outlook from parents' home and family to home and family of one's own.

(d) An opportunity to learn to know each other.

(e) A time for developing having of constancy and loyalty.

(f) A time that is generally very happy.

(g) A time for emotional restraint.

Topic 5 might well be introduced by the question "How can you find out whether or not you really want to marry a particular person?"  The answer to that question is the purpose of the topic.  The courtship period is to enable the couple to become well enough acquainted to know whether or not they wish to marry.

The discussion could be carried on by trying to answer the question  "Are the qualities which make a person 'a good date' the same as those which later will make that person a desirable husband or wife, father or mother?"

Other questions for discussion might be of this nature:

(a)  Should couples who have not announced their engagement continue to go out with other boys or girls?

(b)  Is "love at first sight" as portrayed by the movies a reality?

(c)  "But I'm marrying the girl, not her family."  What is your opinion of this statement?

(d)  How long should a courtship last before the engagement is announced?

(e)  Collect several advertisements from magazines in which romantic love scenes are used as the basis of appeal.  Analyse these critically as to their fundamental truth.

(f)  During the courtship period, how can you discover your proposed partner's attitude toward such matters as attending church, smoking, drinking?

(g)  Why is the courtship period often considered the happiest time of a person's life?

(h)  Why can it also have its very unhappy moments?

(i)  How long should the period of courtship be?  On what factors will this depend?

(j)  What do you think of the old custom of the girl's parents asking the young man his intentions after they had been "going steady" for some time?

(k)  What is "love"?

(l)  Can you learn to love a person?



Topic 6 Content

Topic 6 Teaching Notes and Suggestions

6. What are the purposes and characteristics of the engagement period?

(a)  A public declaration of intention to marry.

(b)  An opportunity for frank discussion on such topics as:

i.  Personal background.

ii.  Hereditary tendencies and family background.

iii.  Financial problems.

iv.  Health history

v.  Attitude toward pre-marital health examination.

(c)  An opportunity for planning.

i.  Where to live.

ii.  Kind of wedding and honeymoon.

iii.  Whether or not it is desirable for the wife to continue employment outside the home.

iv.  Financial management of family income.

 v.  The future of family.

(d)  An opportunity to review the final decision concerning the marriage.

TOPIC 6 deals with the period of the engagement from the formal announcement of intention to marry to the wedding itself.  It is, or at least should be, the period during which the important final decisions with respect to married life are made.

The following questions are suggested for discussion:

(a)  What are the reasons for announcing an engagement?

(b)  Is a ring necessary to mark an engagement last?  (An interesting report might be prepared on the origin of the engagement and wedding rings, and of betrothal and marriage customs of other times, and of other places to-day.)

(c)  How long should an engagement last?

(d)  How much should each know about the other's family background?

(e)  How much should each know about the other's health history?

(f)  How much should each know about the other's previous friendships with the opposite sex?

(g)  What diseases or disabilities should be considered when planning marriage?

(h)  Does British Columbia require a pre-marital health examination?

(i)  Do you think such an examination is necessary?

(j)  Why is a Wasserman test before marriage required by law in some places?

(k)  Do you think an engaged couple should talk with a minister or trained marriage counsellor before marriage?

(l)  Do you think the kind of wedding affects the success of marriage?

(m)  Should a budget be drawn up before marriage?

Source: British Columbia. Department of Education. Division of Curriculum. Effective Living (1952).  Unit 4: The Family and Effective Living teaching notes and suggestions.

Transcribed by Carrie Boyden, History 349, Malaspina University-College, April 2001.

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