Among the proposals for strengthening family life recommended in the memorandum, in addition to the availability of counseling, social, and medical services at all stages of family need, major emphasis was placed on family life education as one means of prevention of difficulty and promotion of competence. Such education, the report continues, should be given to those about to be married and to those already married and should include adequate factual information, as well as an appreciation of the values of good interpersonal relationships and of the skills needed in maintaining such relations.
Education for marriage should begin in the home because children develop their attitudes toward marriage and family living in the early years of life and it should continue as a part of the total education of the individual in school, church, and community. Specific information should be given expectant parents about infant and child care; to parents of preschoolers about dealing with questions children ask; to parents of teen-agers about adolescence and the physical and interpersonal problems that arise in this period; and to parents of young adults and young adults themselves concerning facilities for meeting suitable persons of the opposite sex and methods of evaluating their potentialities as marriage partners. Such education should, of course, involve preparing engaged couples to deal with the natural adjustments of early marriage.
What of marriage counseling in the future? Who will be the marriage counselor of tomorrow, and what will the major functions of counseling be? The counselor of tomorrow will be well grounded in the psychology and sociology of marriage and human relations, in the anatomy and physiology of sex, as well as in the skills and tools of counseling. He or she hopefully will be mature, well-balanced and well-integrated and prepared to deal with many types of marital disabilities, recognizing, however, his or her own personal and professional limitations.
Eventually some form of certification may be indicated for qualified persons. When a new area is opened, many prospectors exploit its resources for their own benefit with little regard for social values. To prevent such exploitation and to develop marriage counseling on high professional and ethical standards will be the aim of both governmental agencies and professional associations.