Family Diversity and the Self of the FLE: 'Interrogating Intellectual Ideas with Personal Experience'

Nadia Brewart, Loma Linda University


Any emphasis on multicultural sensitivity in training, curricular development, policy advocacy, ethics, and program design and delivery is noteworthy given the increasing cultural mix in the American social landscape. This study examines the concepts of family diversity and the self and use of self in relation to the professional practices of certified family life educators (FLEs). van Manen's (1990) hermeneutic phenomenological approach was utilized to elucidate the lived experiences of FLEs. Data analysis included in-depth interviews with eight FLEs, some of whom provided additional “texts” to tell their story in the forms of family life education course syllabi, family life education curriculum, advertisements in community family life education, family life education publications, and, photos of three pieces of art created by one participant. Five main themes emerged: 1) toward a meaningful FLE practice, 2) family diversity ideologies 3) ‘speaking their language'; 4) ‘building that connection;' 5), FLE marginalization: ‘adjunct to all the other letters behind our name.' Implications for theory, training, program delivery, FLE professionalization and future research are discussed.