Parenting and Child Development in "Nontraditional" Families

Parenting and Child Development in "Nontraditional" Families

Parenting and Child Development in "Nontraditional" Families

Parenting and Child Development in "Nontraditional" Families

Synopsis

The goal of this volume is to discuss--in depth--the ways in which various "deviations" from "traditional" family styles affect childrearing practices and child development. Each of the contributors illustrates the dynamic developmental processes that characterize parenting and child development in contexts that can be deemed "nontraditional" because they do not reflect the demographic characteristics of the traditional families on which social scientists have largely focused. The contributors deal with the dynamics and possible effects of dual-career families, families with unusually involved fathers, families characterized by the occurrence of divorce, single parenthood, remarriage, poverty, adoption, reliance on nonparental childcare, ethnic membership, parents with lesbian or gay sexual orientations, as well as violent and/or neglectful parents. By doing so, the authors provide thoughtful, literate, and up-to-date accounts of a diverse array of "nontraditional" or traditionally understudied family types. All the chapters offer answers to a common question: How do these patterns of childcare affect children, their experiences, and their developmental processes? The answers to these questions are of practical importance, relevant to a growing proportion of the families and children in the United States, but also have significant implications for the understanding of developmental processes in general. As a result, the book will be of value to basic social scientists, as well as those professionals concerned with guiding and advising clients and public policy.

Excerpt

Nearly two decades ago, I edited a book entitled Nontraditional Families: Parenting and Child Development (Lamb, 1981). In that book, a distinguished group of researchers and scholars examined the empirical literature documenting the effects of "nontraditional" childrearing practices on child development. The nontraditional practices discussed, described, and analyzed involved deviations from the traditional two-parent, father-as-breadwinner, mother-as-careprovider paradigm. Contributors thus reviewed the effects of maternal employment, single parenthood, and increased parental involvement on children and families.

In the ensuing decades, researchers have continued to study nontraditional patterns of childcare and family structure, although many mainstream theorists and researchers have continued to write as though, in ideal circumstances, children are raised by full-time mothers supported by husbands/fathers who are breadwinners with minimal direct involvement in childcare. As a result, several chapters in this book are devoted to the analysis of the expanded literature on parental employment and child-care patterns, both inside and outside the family. The efforts of developmental psychologists and family social scientists are not only constrained by a preoccupation with traditional two-parent families, however. Scholars and researchers have also focused largely on middle-class White families in anglophone North America--in part, perhaps, because these families are most familiar to the majority of researchers and social theorists themselves. This preoccupation has become increasingly anachronistic in the face of demographic changes that have made traditional middle-class, White, affluent families increasingly unrepresentative of the population.

The goal of this volume is to discuss in depth the ways in which various "deviations" from traditional family styles affect childrearing practices and child development. Instead of dwelling on the "deviance" of these childrearing modes or styles, the contributors each attempt to illustrate the dynamic developmental processes that characterize parenting and child development in contexts that can be deemed nontraditional because they do not reflect the demographic characteristics of the traditional families on which social scientists have largely focused. Contributors thus deal with the dynamics and possible effects of dual-earner families, families with unusually involved fathers, families characterized by the occurrence of divorce, single parenthood, remarriage, poverty, adoption, reliance on nonparental childcare, ethnic membership (Black, Latino, or interracial), parents with lesbian or gay sexual orientations, as well as violent and/or neglectful parents. By . . .

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