Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Contemporary Family Issues for Pastoral Work

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Family Studies

DESCRIPTION This study-unit aims to provide a deep understanding of the current issues families are grappling with in the 21st century Whilst drawing on the current Anglo American literature, the study-unit also takes the cultural and economic context of our country into account. Students will have the opportunity to debate on key challenges that today's families are facing from a multidisciplinary perspective. A strong emphasis will be made on pastoral work in the community and the kind of interventions that might be considered helpful . Current issues will include challenges that parents and parents to be are facing in the 21st century. Other challenging realities will include families where one of the family members is facing mental illness, families living in poverty, older families, domestic violence, families headed by gay and lesbian parents, immigrant families and ICT and its implications for children, parents and family relationships.

Study-Unit Aims:

This study-unit aims to provide a deep understanding of the current issues families are grappling with in the 21st century and how relevant research and theory can inform pastoral work in this area. Whilst drawing on the current Anglo American literature, the study-unit aims to take the cultural and economic context of our country into account when thinking about the kind of pastoral work that would be helpful in addressing current dilemmas and challenges.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Demostrate the key family issues faced by families in Malta, in Europe and the western world;
- Recognise the reasons why such issues are coming to the forefront;
- Discuss the contrasting values relating to key issues in family life;
- Think about ways of intervening in the community from a pastoral perspective.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Apply the relevant research and theory on key family issues and the implications of such research for policy;
- Design pastoral interventions drawn on theory and research.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

- Abela, A. & Walker,J.(Eds) ( 2014) Contemporary Issues in Family Studies: Global perspectives on Partnerships, Parenting and Support in a changing world. UK:Wiley-Blackwell.

Supplementary Readings:

- Sammut Scerri,C.,Vetere,A., Abela,A., & Cooper,J.(2017) Intervening after violence: Therapy for Couples and Families. Switzerland: Springer.
- Abela, A (2016) Family Life in M. Briguglio & M.Brown (Eds) Sociology of the Maltese Islands. Millers Publications Malta.
- Crane,R,D & Heaton,T.B (Eds) (2008) Handbook of Families & Poverty. Los Angeles London New Dehli Singapore: Sage.
- Commission on Domestic Violence (2011) The Prevalence of Domestic Violence against Women in Malta January 2011
- The President's Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society (2017) Sustaining Relationships, The Expectations and lived experiences of Maltese couples.
- The President's Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society (2016) Sustaining Relationships: Couples and singles in a changing society.
- Abela, A. (2009). Relationship education for families in transition between different cultural value systems: A Maltese perspective. In H. Benson & S. Callan (Eds.), What works in relationship education? Lessons from academics and service deliverers in the United States and Europe (pp. 149-160). Retrieved from
- Abela, A. (2013). Malta. In R. E. Emery (Ed.), Cultural sociology of divorce: An encyclopedia (Vol. 2, pp. 748-753). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
- Abela, A., Casha, C., Borg Xuereb, R., Clark, M., Inguanez, J., & Sammut Scerri, C. (2012). The needs of Maltese families with dependent children: A focus group study among professionals. Bank of Valletta Review, (45), 55-86. Retrieved from
- Abela, A., Casha, C., Debono, M., & Lauri, M. A. (2015). Attitudes about remarriage in Malta. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 56(5), 369-387. doi: 10.1080/10502556.2015.1046799.
- Abela, A., Farrugia, R., Casha, C., Galea, M., & Schembri, D. (2013). The relationship between Maltese adolescents and their parents (Department of Family Studies Research Report No.1). Valletta, Malta: Office of the President of Malta.
- Abela, A., Farrugia, R., Galea, M., & Schembri, D. (2012).The relationship between parents and their adolescent children with special reference to consensual and contentious separations. International Journal of the Jurisprudence of the Family, 3, 111-143.
- Abela, A., Farrugia, R., Vella, A. M., & DeGiovanni, K. (2016). Familialistic countries need a family-inclusive service when caring for people with mental health problems: The case of Malta. Families, Relationships and Societies, 5(2), 313-331. doi: 10.1332/204674315X14365326675064.
- Abela, A., & Tabone, C. (2008). Research on the Family Series: No. 1. Family poverty and social exclusion with a special emphasis on children. Valletta, Malta: National Family Commission.
- Borg Xuereb, R., Abela, A., & Spiteri, G. (2012). Early parenting: Portraits from the lives of first-time parents. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 30(5), 468-482. doi: 10.1080/02646838.2012.744961
- Briguglio, M., & Brown, M. (Eds.). (2016). Sociology of the Maltese Islands. Luqa, Malta: Miller.
- Daly, M. (Ed.). (2007). Parenting in contemporary Europe: A positive approach. Strasbourg, France: Council of Europe.
- European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. (2014). Violence against women: An EU-wide survey – Main results. Luxembourg City, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
- Golombok, S. (2015). Modern families: Parents and children in new family forms. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
- Abela, A., & Fenech, C. (2011) The relevance of the Maltese Catholic Church in the context of current changes in contemporary Maltese families, in Faith in Pluralistic Malta. Malta: University, University of Malta.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Seminar and Independent Study

Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Analysis Task Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Angela Abela (Co-ord.)
Claire Lucille Azzopardi Lane
Anna Borg
Claire Casha
Cher Engerer Ashe
Lorleen Farrugia
Marvin Formosa
Ingrid Grech Lanfranco
Alexia Rossi
Clarissa Sammut Scerri
Stephen Christopher Vella

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2019/0, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.