Divergent Realities: The Emotional Lives of Mothers, Fathers, and Adolescents

Synopsis

"Family dysfunction has been blamed on many causes - the absence of fathers, mothers working outside the home, lack of money or social supports. But, argue the authors of this original and provocative book, it is often presence rather than absence that lies at the heart of troubled families. In fact, they show that it is common for family members to be in the same room and yet be oblivious to each other's thoughts and feelings. Family life breaks down because members experience the same event in different ways and are unable to bridge the gap. How can adolescents and well-meaning parents be so out of touch? What are the daily sources of conflict between husbands and wives? What windows of opportunity does contemporary life provide for family members to talk with and appreciate each other?" "To answer these questions, the authors used the unique Experience Sampling Method. Fathers, mothers, and adolescents carried electronic pagers for a week and provided reports on their activities and emotions at random times when signaled by the researchers. Already employed to great effect in studying individuals (the method served as the basis for Larson and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's book Being Adolescent and the latter's Flow), this is the first time this technique has been used to uncover the dynamics of family life. The result is an unprecedented study revealing the hour-by-hour emotional realities lived by families in middle America: the daily clash between fathers, who experience their family life as a refuge, and working mothers, who arrive home each evening to a six o'clock "crash"; between the world of young adolescents, whose emotions can be perilously out of check, and their parents, whose lives focus on emotional equilibrium. The authors demonstrate that these and many other divergent realities provide a breeding ground for dysfunctional family processes, and they discuss creative ways for families to surmount the emotional hazards of everyday life." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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