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Prepare, Enrich, Inspire

Program Length: 10 Lessons
Age Group: 13-18
Author: Jessica N. Pool, MS and Amy K. Olson, MA

Preparing Youth, Enriching Relationships, Inspiring Futures

Decades of research have established the “Prepare/Enrich” inventory as a reliable way to assess strengths and weaknesses of adult romantic relationships – and predict long term outcomes. Key findings from these studies form the basis for the Prepare, Enrich, Inspire (PEI) curriculum created by Dibble for teen audiences.

The 10 lessons of PEI introduce teens to the insights and skills that affect success in all types of relationships: self awareness, expectations, communication, conflict resolution and planning. Reflecting teen preoccupations, romantic attachments take center stage in lessons about dating, love, intimacy, marriage and families. A variety of pre- and post- assessments assure maximum impact from the program.

The PREPARE–ENRICH– INSPIRE (PEI) curriculum teaches teens how relationships impact quality of life along with the skills necessary to create healthy relationships, especially romantic relationships, now and in the future. The lessons were inspired by the work of David Olson and his acclaimed PREPARE/ENRICH marriage program – sources that are noted for their heavily researched, high quality content. Among the key topics explored are love and attraction, dating, families and marriage today. The course also builds skills that impact relationship success such as self awareness, communication, conflict resolution, and success planning. Specific course objectives include helping teens to:
  • Recognize the self in relation to others.
  • Understand how personality and values impact relationships.
  • Experience the connections between behavior, self-image and knowledge in the context of relationships
  • Identify characteristics of healthy and happy relationships
  • Discover ways to make relationship decisions based on knowledge (including self awareness and research) rather than fantasy
  • Build skills that will strengthen relationships. (communication, conflict resolution, self-awareness)

Each lesson includes pre-assessments designed to help teachers easily customize content for the specific needs of each audience. Post lesson assessments measure knowledge gained and impact of the class. Numerous other strategies make teaching easier and more effective. Lessons are highly structured and include brief, tightly scripted lectures, varied group activities and journal work, all carefully timed. Additional teaching tools such as PowerPoint presentations and posters further reinforce learning.

Foundations of the Course
The PREPARE-ENRICH-INSPIRE (PEI) curriculum for teens is based on the acclaimed PREPARE/ ENRICH for adults, a leading pre-marital preparation program developed by Dr. David Olson at the University of Minnesota in the 1980s. PREPARE/ENRICH for adults incorporates an extensive assessment that helps couples identify areas of strength and potential difficulties in their relationships. The program also helps them interpret results and learn specific relationship skills that address areas of concern. PREPARE/ENRICH assessments are based on years of research and carry high levels of reliability and validity. They have clearly identified the key issues and skills that influence most relationship outcomes: communication, conflict resolution, family of origin,stress, and more. In fact, the assessments can predict, with 80-85% accuracy, which couples will get divorced and which will be happily married.Over the last 30 years, the PREPARE/ENRICH relationship program has reached more than 3 million couples nationwide. Today, it ranks among the leading assessment tools used by trained clergy and professional counselors for premarital counseling.

By David Olson, Ph.D., Founder, PREPARE/ENRICH

If you believe media messages about the pursuit of happiness, you may be led to believe that the answer would be something like success, wealth, or good looks. However according to research, most people report close relationships as their main source of happiness.1 The happiest people pursue meaningful connection and intimacy with others.2 We all have innate needs and desires to live in relationship with others, but the skills to successfully manage these relationships need to be learned. How we learn to navigate these relationships influence the trajectory in our lives, and often determine how successful we are in life. It is from a desire to help meet these needs that we have developed Prepare/Enrich/Inspire for Teens. Based on decades of Prepare/Enrich research, PEI for Teens explores how relationships impact quality of life and teaches the skills necessary for teens to create healthy relationships (now and in the future). The overall goal of this curriculum is to help youth develop their personal and relationship skills which they can use in all of their relationships throughout life. As children enter the age of adolescents, the need for relationships continues. But being an adolescent can be tough. Adolescence is a time of rapid change. Teens are striving to fit in to a world of relationships with friends, family, and romantic partners. Teens are working on developing independence from their families in order to forge their own identity. The focus in relationships comes more about learning how to make decisions about relationships with their friends, family, and girlfriends or boyfriends. What they learn in this stage, will affect relationships throughout their lifetime, in terms of both habits and from consequences of decisions made during this time. But teens can’t do this alone. They need adults — parents, teachers, coaches, and others — to help them understand, model, and choose healthy, respectful relationships.

Why We ALL Need to Teach Teens Healthy Relationship Skills?
  1. Life is Relational. The quality of one’s life is often connected to the quality of one’s relationships, often more so with teens. Is it any secret what is on the minds of your adolescent students? Boyfriends, girlfriends, friendships, parents, siblings – relationships top the list! Relationships form a GREAT platform for teaching students interpersonal relationship skills because it is where their focus and interest lie. Consider that more than half of high school teens report having a special romantic relationship within the past 18 months 5 and teens say they interact more frequently with their romantic partners than they do they with parents, siblings, or friends.6 Thus, it makes sense to use dating relationships as a reference point for teens. However, these skills are not just for dating and family life. Research shows that 15% of the reason you get a job, keep a job, and move ahead in that job is determined by your technical skills and knowledge…regardless of your profession. The other 85% has to do with your people skills and people knowledge.  Another finding is that 72% of employees lose their jobs due to inadequate interpersonal relationship skills. Thus, the skills teens learn can help them to be successful in their work life and in building their futures.
  2. Life and relationships are changing and becoming more complex. In recent years, the mass media – TV, radio, Internet, movies, newspapers, and magazines – has amplified its influence on relationships and family. Unfortunately, the picture painted by the media usually bears little resemblance to most relationships and families. The families we see in the media are sexier, chattier, more violent, more problem-prone, richer or poorer, and, in general, lead much more dramatic lives than the average family. The same could be said for the different relationships portrayed. According to a recent study, kids between the ages of 8 to 18 spend most of their waking moments-except for the time in school-with some kind of electronic device (computer, television, smart phone, etc.). Children spend more than seven and a half hours per day with media devices, plus an additional hour and a half texting and half hour on their cellphones.7 These technologies are most frequently used for interpersonal communication, but there are some debates as to whether or not technology actually improves the way we communicate with one another or if it actually interferes with good communication and healthy relationships.
  3. Teens lack relationship knowledge. If you are a teen, you have no doubt been told about the health risks of sexual activity and how to avoid these risks. According to research, by age 18, most teens will have received some information about contraception, refusal skills, and abstinence in regards to sexual activity.8 However, the context of the relationship is often neglected and a majority of first time sexual encounters occur within a dating relationship. One of the missing relational pieces is how feelings of attraction and love interfere with rational thinking and can easily affect decisions. Another important educational piece is to examine how sexual activity can affect both their current and future relationships. These are two simple examples of how having accurate knowledge demystifies the experience of attraction and love so that when these experiences enter their own lives they have some objective insight to apply to their personal experiences. PEI is experiential and skill-based but always invites teens to reflect on the nature of their own experiences as it relates to each topic.
  4. There is still a strong desire for future marriage. Despite all the changes in the trends of marriage, marriage still remains the most popular voluntary institution in our society with about 85% of the population marrying at least once. Even among teens, marriage is considered a popular and worthwhile goal, as most teens (80%) indicate that they want to get married one day (15% are undecided).9 Unfortunately, these teens indicate that while having a good marriage and family is very important to them, between 70-80% are pessimistic as to their chances of success.10 This belief creates an urgency to teach teens skills and knowledge that can help them to be successful if they do choose marriage in their future. Research shows that once young people learn that relationships are skill-based and that these skills can be learned their confidence greatly increases.
  5. There is much evidence that relationships play a fundamental role in the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities. Good relationships and marriages have been linked to longer lives, better physical health, and increased psychological and personal well-being. For children and communities, children of unhappy couples experience more violence, theft, poor self-esteem and social and emotional disturbances. Marital distress increases depression, substance abuse and domestic violence for adults. These findings are just a few that support how healthy relationships benefit individuals, children, families and communities.
  6. Relationship education is effective , Premarital education has been shown to reduce divorce by 30% and yet 70% of all couples who marry do not receive any premarital education. 11 What would the future of relationships/marriage look like if relationship education became the norm before premarital education? Consider the following findings that are the result of teaching teens healthy romantic relationships and skills.
    1. a reduction in teen dating violence and increase in youth’s assets.
    2. A significant delay of the onset of sexual activity.
    3. The improvement of a students’ ability to resist sexual pressure and decrease negative behaviors at home and at school.
    4. A decrease in peer to peer physical violence and improve communication with parents.
    5. A reverse harmful behavior and equip future parents. 12

#1David G Myers The Pursuit of Happiness 1992.#2 University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin E. P. Seligman, author of the new book, Authentic Happiness. #3 Zeanah, C.H. and Doyle-Zeanah, P. (2001). Towards a definition of infant mental health. Zero to Three, 22(1), 13-20.#4 Greenough, W., Emde, R.N., Gunnar, M. Massinga, R., and Shonkoff, J.P. (2001) The Impact of the caregiving environment on young children’s development. Zero to Three, 21(5), 16-23.#5 Carver, Joyner, & Udry, 2003#6Laursen & Williams 1997#7 Kaiser Family Foundation#8 Making a Love Connection – Blanket Resource#9 B. Whitehead and D. Popenoe, Changes in Teen Attitudes toward Marriage, Cohabitation, and Children 1975-1995. National Marriage Project (2000).#10 (National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy)#11(Why Marriage Matters, Research from the CA marriage initiative)#12 Fact sheet from The Dibble Institute

Section 1: Relationships: The You, The Me, and The Us

Lesson One:  Relationships and You

  • 1.1    Why Relationships Matter
  • 1.2   Types of Relationships
  • 1.3   Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships

Lesson Two: Knowing Yourself

  • 2.1   Who Am I?
  • 2.2   My Personality: How to Understand Others by Understanding Yourself
  • 2.3   Influences on Your Decisions
  • 2.4   Values and Beliefs
  • 2.5   Values and Decision Making
Section 2:  Dating, Marriage and Family

Lesson Three: Friendship, Love, and Intimacy

  • 3.1   Friendship vs. Love
  • 3.2   Different Types of Love
  • 3.3   A Deeper Look at the Three Sides of Love: Commitment
  • 3.4   A Deeper Look at the Three Sides of Love: Intimacy
  • 3.5   A Deeper Look at the Three Sides of Love: Passion

Lesson Four: Navigating The World of Dating

  • 4.1   Why Do We Date?
  • 4.2   Building a Relationship
  • 4.3   Attractions
  • 4.4.  Truths about Dating
  • 4.5   Purposeful Dating
  • 4.6   Breaking Up

Lesson Five: All in the Family

  • 5.1   What is a Family
  • 5.2   Family Influences
  • 5.3   The 3 R’s of Family Influence
  • 5.4   Building Strong Families

Lesson Six: Marriage- I Do or I Don’t?

  • 6.1   Trends in Marriage
  • 6.2   Benefits of Marriage
  • 6.3   Formula for a Successful Marriage
  • 6.4   Are Teens Ready for Marriage?
  • 6.5   Characteristics and Skills That Help Grow a Strong Marriage
  • 6.6   Divorce: When Marriages End
Section 3: Skills To Help Improve Relationships

Lesson Seven: Communication in Relationships

  • 7.1   What is Communication?
  • 7.2   Communication Styles
  • 7.3   Intentional Communication

Lesson Eight:   Improve Your Communication = Improve Your Relationships

  • 8.1   Identifying Communication Danger Signs
  • 8.2   A Different Kind of Listening
  • 8.3   More Communication Skills
  • 8.4   Barriers to Effective Communication and Tips to Overcome Them

Lesson Nine: Conflict in Relationships

  • 9.1   Conflict in Relationships
  • 9.2   Attitudes and Strategies to Address Conflict
  • 9.3   Anger: It Often Precedes and Follows Conflict
  • 9.4   Fighting Fairly

Lesson Ten:  Healthy Relationships: From Dreams to Reality

    • 10.1   Creating the Today and Tomorrow You Desire
    • 10.2   Decision Making Challenges for Teens
    • 10.3   D.E.C.I.D.E. Decision-Making Model
    • 10.4   Obstacles to Accomplishing Your Goals
    • 10.5   Guidelines for Setting Your Goals
    • 10.6   S.M.A.R.T. Goals
David Olson, Ph.D.
Founder and president of PREPARE/ENRICH (Life Innovations), David Olson, Ph. D. is professor emeritus of family social science at the University of Minnesota, where he has worked for more than 25 years. Here, along with his colleagues, Olson developed the Circumplex Model of Marital and Family Systems along with several couple and family assessment tools, including PREPARE, ENRICH, FACES, PAIR, and AWARE.He is a past president of the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) and a past president of the Upper Midwest Association for Marriage and Family Therapists (UMAMFT).Olson has written or edited more than 20 books, including Couple Checkup, Remarriage Checkup, Empowering Couples, Building Relationships, Families: What Makes Them Work, Circumplex Model, Power in Families, Treating Relationships, and 10 volumes of the Inventory of Marriage and Family Literature. He has published more than 100 articles and sits on the editorial boards of six family journals.Olson is a fellow and clinical member of the American Association for Marital and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and a fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA). He has received numerous awards, including the Distinguished Contribution to Family Therapy Research Award from both AAMFT and the American Family Therapy Association (AFTA).
Jessica Pool, M.S.
An award-winning teacher and communication specialist, Jessica Pool, M.S. joined The Dibble Institute in 2004, and currently serves as Director of Programs.An expert in teen curricula, Jessica has authored or co-authored several Dibble programs including PREPARE-ENRICH-INSPIRE for Teens (with Amy Olson-Sigg), Money Habitudes™ (with Syble Solomon), Why Buy the Cow?, about cohabitation and What’s Real about the myths and facts of marriage. Jessica also served as editor for two of Dibble’s best selling curricula: Relationship Smarts PLUS and Love Notes by Marline Pearson.Among her many other responsibilities, Jessica is a master trainer for the Love U2, Love Notes, and Connections programs, as well as leader of numerous other trainings and seminars on relationship education.Prior to joining Dibble, Jessica taught Family and Consumer Science in Alabama and earned several prestigious awards for her innovative work with pregnant and parenting teens.Jessica holds a BA from the University of Alabama, and Masters of Science in Family Studies from Texas Woman’s University. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband and four children.
Amy K. Olson, M.A.

Amy K. Olson, M.A. is Communications Director at PREPARE/ENRICH, where she has helped with research, development and customer support of the PREPARE/ENRICH inventory for over fifteen years. She has co-authored several journal articles and books and does volunteer marriage and family therapy for a Minneapolis non-profit.

What Others Have to Say

“As a founder of PREPARE/ENRICH, which was developed to build strong marriages, it is exciting to see a product to help youth develop healthy relationships. More than ever, young people need programs that will help prepare them for the challenges of relationships, enrich their current relationships and inspire them to want to create and maintain healthy relationships.“The ‘fourth R’ (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic) is for Relationships and nothing is more important to youth than their peer relationships. They talk, think and tweet about their relationships with their peers more than any other topic. So the interest is there for the content of this course.“What is missing for youth is the opportunity to share with others in a class that blends research and content about relationships. They need to learn more accurate information since they are often so influenced by the myths and sensational stories about relationships from the media world.“Youth also need to learn healthy relationship skills like assertiveness, active listening, resolving conflict, dealing with finances, healthy sexuality and dealing with parents. These skills are even more important today since so much of their communication with others is short tweets or text messaging.“I am very impressed with the breath, depth and exciting program that has been created called PREPARE/ENRICH/INSPIRE. It is filled with current research and insights about relationships (PREPARE), activities that will make the topics and ideas come alive (ENRICH) and opportunities for teens to reflect on how this information impacts their life (INSPIRE).“Hopefully, this book and program will help you deliver a powerful and exciting class for young people today.”

David H. Olson, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, U of Minnesota, Founder of PREPARE/ENRICH