Connecting Children: Care and Family Life in Later Childhood

Connecting Children: Care and Family Life in Later Childhood

Connecting Children: Care and Family Life in Later Childhood

Connecting Children: Care and Family Life in Later Childhood

Synopsis

Connecting Children focuses on children's understandings of care and their views of different family lives. It portrays the lives of children aged 11-12 and shows how families connect children in different ways both in the household and also in their wider kinship networks.

Excerpt

Three concerns have driven this study. The first has been a desire to focus on children's care in families through the perspectives of children. While the contexts in which parents do their parenting and the ways in which they parent are much debated, children have been portrayed rather passively in these discussions. Little research has investigated how children themselves view family life and how they experience the variety of different types of families in which they grow up. A second concern has been to locate children's family lives within a broad framework of kinship and social networks, to enable children themselves to define the boundaries around their changing family lives and those they consider important to them. A third concern has been to understand how children make sense of care in all the different meanings of the term. The concept of care as moral commitment to others, a key motif of private life, is increasingly contested in public life, by the state and by the labour market. How children view and interpret commitment in different contexts and relationships, especially in family life, is an important question, therefore, together with other aspects of care - material, social and emotional. The study has sought to consider children as active providers of different types of care as well as recipients of their parents' care.

This book is the outcome of a research project, Children's Concepts and Experience of Care in Different Household Contexts, which was funded by the Department of Health over three years between 1996 and 1999, at the Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London. Inevitably, books are rarely completed during the duration of the project. Given the impermanence of researchers' contracts, many move on to other research while the writing is still in progress. This book is no exception and needs to be viewed in the context of such constraints. Moreover, the book should also be viewed in another way. Insofar as it speaks to children's lives as they experienced them, the insights the book offers are shaped by the questions

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