Student Enriches Family Life Through Research

The Belltower framed by blooming trees in Spring.

After experiencing a divorce firsthand, Beth Edwards was filled with inspiration to pursue the YFCS family life education and coaching degree.

Edwards is a former practicing pediatrician and brings her experiences of supporting families to her work in YFCS. Edwards is specifically interested in enriching couple and family relationships and exploring how life events impact parenting and co-parenting dynamics. Conducting a longitudinal study to examine how life events affect parenting was exactly the kind of research Edwards wanted to take on.

YFCS 500 offers students the opportunity to work with a faculty member or organization(s) to design a master’s capstone project that aligns with their professional goals. Upon signing up for this course, Beth Edwards sought to learn more about how large research projects operate and participate in qualitative research.

Research is an important aspect of family science. It is essential to evaluate the work that is being done with families to continue to find ways to improve and to maintain strong lines of communication between researchers and practitioners.

Edwards is currently researching alongside Annie Hardsion-Moody and Sarah Bowen in the Sociology department. They are co-leading a national study of families’ experiences of food insecurity during COVID. The study looks closely at factors that help or hinder family life. Edwards’ role in this research includes conducting interviews, quality-controlling interview transcripts, developing codebooks and coding.

At some point, every individual experiences hardships and trouble, whether that be illness, death, birth, divorce or job loss. The way parents (and families as a whole) deal with these struggles determine the prosperity of family life and healthy relations. Through her research, Edwards will equip family life professionals with knowledge regarding how to advise and empower families worldwide.

Listening to participant’s interviews enlightened Edwards, making her more aware of how powerful sharing a story can be. Her work reinforced the importance of listening to a client and taking the time to understand their position, feelings, and perspective. She emphasizes that “solutions can’t be based solely on what the professional thinks will help; they must be client-driven.” Edwards presented this research recently at the Family Life Coaching Association’s annual meeting.

Beth Edwards is working on her thesis and plans to graduate this fall. She emphasized that her ultimate goal is to help families thrive. She views education and coaching as fantastic opportunities to enrich relationships among families. We await with eager anticipation to see the incredible work Edwards will continue to do next.