International Commission on Couple and Family Relations


Monday, 22 June 2015

06:00pm – 08.30pm:  Opening reception hosted by the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth

Speaker: Caren Marks, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

09:30am – 10:00am:  Keynote: Tempus fugit – Adults have watches, children have time!

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Jean-Pierre Vanhee, Belgium, Flanders

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Prof. Dr. Jean Pierre Vanhee

Tempus fugit – Adults have watches, children have time!

Since the days of Thales of Miletus, philosophers have debated the topic of time. ‘Time is the wisest of all things that are, for it brings everything to light.’* Time is immeasurable, a measureless phenomenon. A study of time, especially a lifetime, stimulates thought and offers insight into how we should live. Time stimulates reflection on how quickly a lifetime passes, on whom we are sharing it with, which moments we remember and which ones we would prefer to forget as quickly as possible. Alongside this are the moments we share with others but also the very lonely moments we experience. Time spent with family, especially in seasons of life that are loving and warm, is very precious. This is especially the case when children are growing up and becoming independent, and when parents learn more about themselves. Even if the family unit finds itself in a crisis situation, whether because of conflicting family dynamics or simply because they cannot function as a family for a while or even at all, it can still be satisfying time in some respects. Life within the family circle implies belonging, reciprocal love and dialogue. It is a time composed of many different moments and qualities. Children, for example, have time, whereas adults share time and live scheduled lives. Based on ideas from philosophers, and using multimedia, this keynote will explore the phenomenon known as time in relationships, in the context of living together within the family circle.

*As cited in Diogenes Laërtius: The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, I, 35

10:00am – 10:30am: Coffee break

10:30am – 12:00pm: Discussion Group

12:00pm – 01:00pm: Lunch

01.00pm – 02.30pm: Parallel Workshops

Workshop 1:

The Benefits of Time – The Importance of the Post-War Boomers to Families

Speaker: Claire Barnes, USA

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Ten thousand Boomers are retiring daily in the United States and entering life’s second act. This social phenomenon is creating a huge demographic gap never before experienced. Rather than seeing this change as a burden on society, the challenge is to maximize the skills, experience, longevity and wisdom of the Boomer generation as they become a critical element in the well-being of families and communities.

The workshop content will feature a community model for retirees that helps them maintain a sense of well-being and emotional health as they navigate the largest social change in a century.

The workshop will be an interactive, informational session focusing on:

I. The statistics – in the US and Europe

II. The challenges created for communities and families by this demographic shift

III. Model remedies designed to encourage the well-being of individuals age 50 and older leading to the subsequent benefit to families. Focus will be on the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) Model – over 100 partnerships with American Universities supported by the Bernard Osher Foundation (San Francisco).

This workshop proposal is endorsed by the OLLI at the University of Nevada, Reno, a division of the Extended Studies Department.

Convenor & Input: Clair Barnes, USA

Workshop 2:

The 24/7 Economy and Challenges for Family Life

Speakers: Jianghong Li, PhD and Dr Matthias Pollmann-Schult, Germany

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Jianghong Li (Germany) and Matthias Pollmann-Schult (Germany)

President’s Project Group

WZB Berlin Social Research Centre

Increasingly, we are living in a 24-hour/7-day economy, which demands services around the clock. This has underpinned the rise in work schedules that include evenings, nights and weekends (so called ‘shift work’ or non-standard hours). This labour market trend has raised concerns about its possible negative impacts on family life. The proposed workshop aims to contribute to the ICCFR conference theme by examining a new dimension of social inequality, namely the impact of working unsociable (shift work) hours on family and children’s well-being. The workshop will showcase the newest research on this topic conducted by leading experts from four countries and include the following presentations.

1. Professor Anna Rönkä (University of Jyväskylä, Finland)

Managing family diversity and unpredictable changes: the challenges of managers in a 24h economy

In the lives of families working non-standard hours, two issues are crucial: the predictability of working time and the flexibility of childcare. Two people can influence these issues: the manager of the workplace and the manager of the childcare centre. This paper deals with the challenges managers face in meeting the various tensions of the 24h economy. The data consist of interviews with managers in 24/7 workplaces and survey data on managers of day and night childcare centres. Our results show that successful management requires understanding of the diversity of families and coping with constant changes.

2. Professor Wen-Jui Han (New York University and NYU-ECNU Institute for Social Development at NYU Shanghai)

Parental work schedules and children’s well-being: the case of Shanghai, China

Demographic and societal trends, coupled with globalization in recent decades around the world, have changed the forms of parental employment and thus the way we care for our children. Research using data from developed countries such as the United States has shown that parents working early mornings, evenings, nights or rotating shifts may have compromised children’s well-being to a certain degree. This paper builds upon and extends the existing literature by examining the potential impact of parental work schedules on children (1st graders) in Shanghai, China.

A postdoctoral fellow from the President’s Project Group, WZB, will present initial findings from a DFG-funded project on parents’ shift work hours and social and emotional well-being in German children.

Workshop 3:

Changes in Immigrant Family Lives in Germany

Speaker: Asligül Aysel, PhD, Germany

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This research project aims to examine the dynamics of interaction and dependence structures among Turkish family members who have settled in Duisburg since the early 1960s. The central question is determined by intergenerational development and the changes throughout the lives of Turkish immigrants and future generations.

The investigation is based on biographical narrative interviews with family members. The data are assessed following Rosenthal’s method of analysis, which outlines a ‘complex’ understanding of a person. This procedure sets up conclusions about biographies, social structures and ‘cultural’ development.

The analysis of the data thus far explores indications relating to intergenerational change, specifically socio-economic development from first-generation to second-generation Turkish immigrants in Germany.

The study derives new information about Turkish families in Germany and offers possible options as to how families can be supported.


Workshop 4:

Putting children and families at the centre by acting earlier

Speaker: Anne Hollonds, Australia

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How can we effectively utilise integrated child and family services to reach the families who most need them, early enough ‘in time’ to prevent or reduce known developmental risk factors?

Australia is facing funding shortages and looking for new solutions to growing health, mental health and social welfare costs. Research points to the social, health and economic outcomes of investment in prevention and early intervention for vulnerable children in the early years of life. Developmental vulnerability, as measured by the Australian Education Developmental Census at school entry, has been shown to be correlated with disadvantaged family circumstances, and the developmental gap is currently likely to continue, resulting in poorer educational and later life outcomes.

This workshop investigates links between research, policy and practice in Australia and internationally, with a particular focus on the rapidly growing service system of integrated child and family centres, based on the concept of a ‘one-stop-shop’ child and family centre providing preventive health, education and social services. The extent to which research evidence is being utilised in the implementation of these services, and emerging evaluation evidence of outcomes, will be discussed.

This workshop will cover the perspectives of frontline service providers, philanthropic and government funders and researchers and policy makers, drawing on recently published reports to facilitate discussion about how prevention research has been applied in the policy and practice of integrated child and family services, what has been learnt so far and how these lessons can be applied in future research, policy and practice for scaleable service models based on evidence.

Several jurisdictions have implemented integrated child and family centres over recent years, with different service models and different approaches to the concept of interdisciplinary ‘integration’. There are several different outcomes frameworks and evaluations underway. The implementation of these services will be discussed, and the available evidence of effectiveness for child outcomes, as well as parent and community outcomes. Examples of promising practice will be outlined as well as learning from the implementation problems encountered.

The evidence of systemic barriers to cross-sector service integration that continue to impede the implementation of integrated child and family services will be discussed, as well as opportunities at a policy level to facilitate service coordination, evidence-based interventions and effective implementation strategies and continuous improvement.

International research and practice examples will be discussed, with recommendations for the way forward. We believe there is an opportunity to review the outcomes at this stage, examine what has been learnt in Australia and other countries and make adjustments to ensure more effective implementation of evidence-based approaches with closer attention to emerging prevention research.

The workshop will weave together research, policy and practice perspectives and invite participants to engage in discussion and debate about how to progress system reform, through effective collaboration, to improve the well-being of all children and families.



02:30pm – 03:00pm: Coffee break


03:00pm – 04:00pm: Counterpoint Discussion

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Counterpoint Discussion:


Lloyd Godson, USA, and Grant Howell, United Kingdom

A changing legal process for changing times

The aim of this point-counterpoint discussion is to compare and contrast issues based upon professional experience and upon the dynamics of the individual legal systems within which  each speaker works. These questions in particular will be discussed:

1. What measures are available through the legal process to assist families facing crisis before divorce?

2. What support systems are available during the divorce process to assist families with the additional cost and time considerations caused by the divorce process?

3. Is there social inequality built into the divorce process?


04:15pm – 05:30pm:  Discussion Group

05:30pm: End of conference day one, conference reception and river boat tour in the evening (06.30-09.30pm)

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

09:00am – 10:00am: Keynote: Cut the old pigtails: towards a new distribution of paid and unpaid time over the life course

Cut the old pigtails: towards a new distribution of paid and unpaid time over the life course.

Speaker: Prof. Jutta Allmendinger PhD, Germany, president of the Berlin Social Science Centre

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Photo: Inga Haar

We are living longer. More people than ever are employed. Working conditions are in a constant state of change. And yet, time still seems to stand still. Men work longer than women, the volume of work declines dramatically from the age of 59 and an institutionalized further training of the workforce in the sense of skills formation for the second or third career is still in its infancy. It’s time for a change in thinking; time to adjust the way we balance work and life: between women and men, as well as between individual stages of our life.


10:00am – 10:30am: Coffee Break

10:30am – 12:00pm: Discussion Group

12:00pm – 01:00pm: Lunch

01:00pm – 02:30pm: Parallel Workshops

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Workshop 5:

How do major socio-economic changes such as a recession impact on people’s relationships, and how can policy respond?

Speakers: Dr. Christopher Sherwood/ David Marjoribanks, United Kingdom

Recession and economic changes can pose challenges to families and relationships. This workshop will first focus on examining the impact of economic cycles on relationship quality and stability. Relate’s recent research, Relationships, Recession and Recovery, indicates that people in the UK who were most affected by symptoms of the recent great recession were also most affected in terms of their relationships.

Second, this workshop will address the pressures on family relationships that a recovery disproportionately driven by self-employment (as in the UK) may bring. While self-employment may allow for more family-friendly working, it may also mean long and atypical hours and hazards around balancing work and time for family life, particularly where combined with low earnings. Similarly, other features of the post-Great Recession employment market (zero hours contracts, low pay, underemployment) pose significant challenges for family life, including time, as well as financial pressures. If relationships tend to follow economic cycles, the challenge for policy is to strengthen relationships to provide a bulwark against economic pressures. This workshop will therefore, finally, explore ways in which policy might strengthen family relationships in the face of the characteristics of a post-recession economy, as well as preparing for the recessions of the future by strengthening relationships.


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Workshop 6:

Work hours, work arrangements, and well-being

Speakers: Dr Matthias Pollmann-Schult and Jianghong Li, PhD, Germany


President’s Project Group

WZB Berlin Social Research Centre

This workshop will include four presentations focusing on associations between work hours, work arrangements, and the subjective well-being of workers and their families. Recent research has established that long working hours have detrimental impacts on individual and family well-being. The following four presentations will provide new research evidence on this effect for Germany and Australia. The workshop contributes to the ICCFR conference theme by examining the detrimental effects on family life of time away from home due to work commitments.

Prof. Lyndall Strazdins (Australian National University)

Long hours and longings: children’s views of fathers’ jobs

In Australia, fathers tend to work long hours, and many report conflict between work and family life. Using cohort data of Australian children aged 10-12 years, we consider how time dimensions of fathers’ work may shape children’s views of their jobs. We also consider the extent to which fathers’ concerns that their jobs are interfering with family life are reflected in what children say: are fathers’ longings echoed by children’s? We model the linkages between fathers’ jobs and children’s views and find that long and inflexible hours, evening and weekend work and high work intensity may put pressure on father–child interactions.

Prof. Michael Feldhaus (Oldenburg University)

Does commuting behaviour have an impact on satisfaction with family life and parent–child relations?

This presentation considers whether the time spent commuting has an impact on the quality of family relations. Based on a stress theoretical approach, it was assumed that more time-consuming commuting has a negative impact on family life satisfaction and parent–child relations and also exacerbates partnership conflicts. Using data from the German Family Panel (N=1,473), this study shows a negative impact of commuting on family life satisfaction, but only for women, particularly if there is more than one child in the household. Long-distance commuting is also associated with increased conflicts within partnerships, again only for mothers, but it is not associated with more conflicts or less closeness with children.

Prof. Michael Dockery (Curtin University, Australia)

When two worlds collide: employees working from home and family functioning

Previous research shows employees value the flexibility of being able to work some of their hours from home, despite the potential intrusion into family life. Striking an optimal balance between work and family depends upon workers’ ability to assess the full costs and benefits of working arrangements. If externalities are not taken into account, sub-optimal welfare outcomes are likely. Using 13 years of Australian panel data, this paper builds upon existing literature on the relationship between working from home and family functioning by using other family members’ assessments of family functioning, as opposed to the employee self-assessments, to capture externalities.

Dr Garth Kendall (Curtin University, Australia)

Fly-in-fly-out families’ experience of mental health and relationship problems during pregnancy

Fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) workers may be especially vulnerable to psychological disturbances and relationship problems that affect themselves and their families. This study uses data from an Australian pregnancy cohort study ( to examine mental health and relationship adjustment in FIFO and non-FIFO men and their partners during pregnancy. It is of interest to know if these families report higher rates of: mental health difficulties (anxiety and/or depression); couple or family relationship difficulties; job dissatisfaction; and higher use of cigarettes, drugs or alcohol. This study seeks to inform industry and workforce policy makers of the potential challenges of the FIFO lifestyle.



Workshop 7:

Family friendly policies and fathers’ work-family balance

Speakers: Dr Janine Bernhardt (WZB), Mareike Bünning (WZB), Dietmar Hobler (Sowitra Consulting), Svenja Pfahl (Sowitra Consulting), Germany

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Reconciliation between work and family has been a women’s issue for a long time. However, an increasing number of fathers want to be more involved with their children and therefore often seek to reduce their workload. At the same time, many fathers continue to identify as the family’s breadwinner and are afraid that stepping back at work would entail financial penalties and career disadvantages. By bringing together social scientists and organisational consultants, this workshop will examine which types of public and workplace policies support fathers’ involvement in combining work and family duties. For example, the German Ministry for Family Affairs introduced a reform of parental leave in 2007 that afforded two months of paid leave to fathers in order to encourage men’s uptake of leave. However, the number of men taking more than these two pre-guaranteed ‘daddy months’ is still relatively limited.

Companies have also discovered that providing work-family benefits can serve as an HR tool. Furthermore, several companies offer flexible work arrangements that give employees more control of their schedules and working hours. However, the effectiveness of these policies is again unclear.

The workshop will provide an overview of research evaluating these policies from both a scientific and a practitioners’ perspective. Social scientists and organisational consultants will jointly explore the circumstances under which fathers take advantage of family-friendly policies, who these fathers are and the consequences of the uptake of these policies for fathers’ involvement with their children and for their future careers. Recommendations for how policies should best be structured will presumably be one important outcome of this workshop.


Workshop 8:

Childcare and the right to contact and access

Speaker: Melindi van Rooyen (family and divorce mediator), South Africa

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The purpose of this workshop is to stress the importance of childcare and children’s rights to have contact with and free access to their parents when they separate.

The presentation will start with an introduction to the definitive moment of separation when one parent moves away from the family home. The cruel irony of separation is that it creates greater emotional needs in children at precisely the moment when their parents may be least equipped to meet them. Except in cases of abuse and neglect, children need both parents now more than ever.

This workshop provides updates on current relevant research on the essential elements needed to get children off to a good start, e.g. parents’ acceptance of the fact that the child’s relationship with both parents should be maintained. These are followed by an overview of the emotions children experience and their uncertainty and inability to express themselves. Parents can assist children in various ways to deal with the emotional and practical implications of separation.

The workshop will conclude with a discussion of the different methods to achieve optimal childcare as well as relevant case studies.

Workshop 9:

German family law on the way to a child-focused law – a lawyer’s experience

Speaker: Birte Goetz, Germany

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In the 1990s, custody for a child was normally given to either mother or father by the court after separation or divorce. It was even possible for a parent to be completely barred from visiting rights

Times have changed since then – in a positive way.

Both parents are now generally awarded shared custody, although there are exceptions when family courts regard single custody as being more to the benefit of the child. However, it is deemed essential that a child has contact with both parents – and that there are consequences if not.

Does it make a difference if a child was born within a marriage or not? Did it make a difference in earlier years? The law determines social equality or inequality.

This workshop will present some interesting cases of family conflicts seen from a legal viewpoint. Participants from different professional backgrounds are invited to share experiences from their own work. So the opportunities and limitations of each professional approach, as well as possibilities for cooperation, may be discussed – for an even better future.

02:30pm – 03:00pm: Coffee Break

03:00pm – 04:00pm: Poster Presentation

04:00pm – 05:30pm: Recap/ End of Main Conference

Followed by: Berlin Wall Tour – Guided tour of the official Wall Documentation Centre (see website of Documentation Centre)

Download programme

Berlin Conference 2015: Programm and Workshops


Follow-up events on Thursday, 25 June 2015

There will be two more events on the following day, 25 June, organised separately from the official ICCFR conference:

  • AGF European expert meeting on ‘quality childcare’:
    The meeting will assemble about 30 experts from the European level as well as from different European member states to have an in-depth discussion and exchange of ideas. The expert meeting takes place on 25 June 2015, 11 am to 4 pm, in Berlin. We will discuss current quality in early childcare in Europe, especially how it should be defined and how it can be achieved and guaranteed. The general questions we want to focus on will be:
    – What is the current situation concerning quality childcare in Europe?
    – What exactly does quality childcare mean (in the different member states)? What kind of quality measurements should be involved?
    – What might be the best way to get the best childcare possible? Are childcare standards (on national or perhaps even European-level standards) a good way? Do they contradict innovative service options?
    – If standards are preferred, what might they look like?
    There will be reports on the current quality debate from German, Finnish and Scottish perspectives. Moreover, an overview of quality issues in Europe and existing EU regulations is planned.
  • Prof. Dr Bernhard Kalicki (ICEC), Prof. Dr Susanne Viernickel (Germany), Marion MacLeod (Scotland) and Dr. Päivi Kupila (Finland) have so far accepted the invitation to give their input.
    Simultaneous interpretation into and from German and English will be provided.
    You are welcome to pass this invitation on to your colleagues working in the area of quality childcare. Participation is limited to about 30-35 people. So please register early  by clicking on the relevant button when registering for the ICCFR conference, or by email (registration @ We will of course let you know in good time whether you have will be among the participants.
  • Visit to ‘tam. Interkulturelles Familienzentrum’, an intercultural family centre in Berlin Kreuzberg:
    Only five minutes’ walk from Potsdamer Platz but already in an immigrant neighbourhood of Berlin Kreuzberg is the community-focused family centre ‘tam’. It offers helpful services for families: day care for children (under six years), based on an early-excellence approach; a neighborhood café serving as a meeting point and open to everyone; various courses for parents and families; social counselling; training for immigrant women as mentors and agents of integration to help new immigrant families in local communities (‘neighborhood mothers’).
    Ulrike Koch, the manager of this family- and community-oriented service centre, will show you around.

Because of the focused structure of these follow-up events, only a limited number of applicants will be able to take part. If you are interested in participating, please contact AGF for more information: We will then get in touch with you.