Family and Peers: Linking Two Social Worlds

Family and Peers: Linking Two Social Worlds

Family and Peers: Linking Two Social Worlds

Family and Peers: Linking Two Social Worlds

Synopsis

Why is it that relationships with family members predict the quality of children's relationships outside the family? A wealth of research has documented that various aspects of family relationships are predictably related to the quality of children's interactions and relationships with peers. Understanding what account for these effects is important both for theories of children's relationships and intervention efforts to ameliorate children's peer relationship difficulties. This volume advances the field by discussing several mechanisms that may account for continuities across family and peer relationships.

Excerpt

This volume is designed to advance the understanding of the connections between two of the social worlds of childhood: the family and the peer domain. As Baumrind (1967; 1973) first showed in the late 1960s, there are predictable linkages between parent-child interaction and how children relate to peers. The contributors to this volume confirm and extend evidence for family and peer linkages in a number of important ways. For example, the chapters illustrate that parent childrearing practices, the quality of the parent-child relationship, and the functioning of the marital dyad are all associated with the quality of children’s peer relationships. At this point, there can be no doubt that connections between the family and peers exist.

Despite evidence of these linkages, much less progress has been made on the question of why there is predictability in children’s functioning across the two social contexts of family and peers. After finding family-peer links, researchers often suggest but only rarely test specific mechanisms that may account for these effects. Identifying the mechanisms accounting for the linkages is necessary for both development of theories of social development as well as interventions designed to improve children’s interpersonal relationships. One of the key contributions of this volume is that almost all of the contributors to it explore the question of mediating mechanisms.

Several of the contributors take this question as the focus of their chapters (Contreras & Kerns, Chapter 1; Dishion, Poulin, & Skaggs, Chapter 2; Katz, Chapter 5; Mize, Pettit, & Meece, Chapter 6; and O’Neil & Parke, Chapter 8). Mize et al. review published evidence testing the mediation hypothesis. Their review examines a number of potential mediators (e.g., information-

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