Whose Role Is It?

When teaching about the family life cycle, I like to focus on some specific topics within the stages.  Whose Role Is It? is an activity used within the beginning stage.  This is a really engaging activity that generates a lot of discussion, sometimes heated at that! So if you’re looking for a hands-on activity to get students thinking and talking, this is for you!


  • Decide if you are going to use this activity in the family life cycle unit or in a relationship/marriage unit. Whichever you decide, be sure you have laid the groundwork ahead of time. For example, in the family life cycle unit, students would need to be familiar with the stages. In this case, the beginning stage. If using in a relationship/marriage unit, this would be a good topic for couples to discuss prior to making a serious commitment.
  • Teacher Prep:  Print and cut apart the cards, placing them in envelopes.  Be sure you have enough for each group of students. If you intend to use these cards repeatedly, I encourage you to print them on cardstock and potentially laminate to preserve them.
  • Decide on the number of students you wish to have in each group and intentionally assign them or do it randomly. You know your students best!


  • Once students are in groups, give them the cards.  Instruct them to sort the cards into three categories:
    • Category #1: Roles the husband will perform.
    • Category #2: Roles the wife will perform.
    • Category #3: Roles both will perform.
  • After students have sorted the cards, they are to discuss each card and rank them from most important to least important. Students must be able to justify their placements.
  • As a class, discuss how the cards were classified by group.  Based on the group answers, determine the top five roles for each category.
  • Discuss or assign the following prompts:
    • Did your gender influence your placement?  Explain
    • Did how your own family perform these roles influence your placement? Explain
    • Would your grandparents have sorted them the same way? Why or why not?
    • Why is it important for couples to share the roles? Potential consequences if they do not?
    • Should future children be expected to perform some of these roles when they are old enough?  Explain
    • Which roles could children realistically perform when old enough?
  • As a group, discuss any additional roles you believe should be added to the list and be prepared to share.


Photo by Mikhail Nilov

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