By Divine Design: Best Practices for Family Success and Happiness

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By Divine Design: Best Practices for Family Success and Happiness
By Divine Design: Best Practices for Family Success and Happiness
Editor Brent L. Top Editor Michael A. Goodman
Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, 2014

By Divine Design: Best Practices for Family Success and Happiness

Reviewer Sean Brotherson

“Best practices” in fields ranging from education to management refer to principle-based approaches that are useful, enduring, and meaningful in facilitating growth and success. Many a spouse or parent has wondered how best to resolve an interpersonal conflict or provide helpful support to a family member in times of difficulty. In this volume, the authors were encouraged to draw upon and integrate essential teachings from scripture and prophetic leaders with sound findings from social science to make clear and apply such best practices to family life. The contributors include a range of scholars and educators from marriage, family and human development, sociology, psychology, and religious education at Brigham Young University.


In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaim that the responsibilities and joys of marriage, parenting, and family life are given to men and women “by divine design.” Using this phrase to set the tone for their edited volume, this book’s editors further subtitle this selection of twelve articles a compendium of “best practices” designed to promote family success and happiness. The edited collection was developed under the guidance of Brent L. Top, dean of Religious Education and professor of Church history and doctrine, and Michael A. Goodman, associate professor of Church history and doctrine, both of Brigham Young University.

“Best practices” in fields ranging from education to management refer to principle-based approaches that are useful, enduring, and meaningful in facilitating growth and success. Many a spouse or parent has wondered how best to resolve an interpersonal conflict or provide helpful support to a family member in times of difficulty. In this volume, the authors were encouraged to draw upon and integrate essential teachings from scripture and prophetic leaders with sound findings from social science to make clear and apply such best practices to family life. The contributors include a range of scholars and educators from marriage, family and human development, sociology, psychology, and religious education at Brigham Young University.

This collection of twelve articles has been edited carefully, and each chapter presents an accessible, interesting, and practical profile of its family topic, enriched by color photos and relevant summaries of scientific data or gospel-related teachings. The volume opens with a chapter on a common family struggle, seeking harmony in family life in a busy, chaotic world. The next three chapters focus on sustaining a healthy marriage, with articles that address the role of faith and commitment in marriage; time challenges and couple rituals in marriage; and marriage, divorce, and covenant-keeping in the LDS community. The remaining eight chapters explore multiple dimensions of the parenting experience. One chapter on parenting provides an in-depth discussion of raising children based on the key principles of latitude, limits, and love. Other chapters explore the unique roles of women and men as parents, with one focused on the mothering experience in our modern world and its key contributions, while the other addresses “faithful fathering” and vital elements of how fathers can reach for success in family life. Another chapter explores the transmission of faith to children and best practices in cultivating a healthy religious environment in the home that will bless children. The last four chapters focus on parenting teenagers and young adults, and include explorations of specific and proactive parenting practices for teens, raising teens to overcome selfishness and indulgence, helping young adults transition into the key domains of adult life, and selected parental practices for navigating the challenges of raising “emerging” adults.

In a world where trustworthy information can be difficult to find, this volume presents a useful compilation that blends spiritual perspectives with sound research findings. If readers are indeed interested in finding “family success and happiness,” this book will provide them with an understanding of contemporary challenges in family life and a broad set of “best practices” that can be understood and applied in strengthening marriage, improving parenting, and enriching family relationships.