Thinking about the Family: Views of Parents and Children

Thinking about the Family: Views of Parents and Children

Thinking about the Family: Views of Parents and Children

Thinking about the Family: Views of Parents and Children

Excerpt

Richard D. AshmoreDavid M. Brodzinsky Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey

Over the past decade and a half the rising divorce rate, coupled with other changes in family life, has led some observers to conclude that the traditional nuclear family today is analogous to a species of dinosaur facing an inevitable Ice Age and, with it, extinction. However, though perhaps beaten, battered and -- most importantly -- transformed, the family seems unlikely to die (cf. Scanzoni, 1982).

During this recent period of social upheaval, in which the American family has undergone considerable change, there has been an exciting upswing in research on the family and the introduction of novel perspectives for seeking to understand this most important societal institution. This volume brings together the writings of a set of researchers who represent one of these emerging approaches. Although they are not adherents of a single theory, all of the authors of this collection of chapters believe that to understand the family, and the socialization of children more generally, requires recognition that the family is a social-interactional entity and that the participants (parents and children) are active cognitive creatures.

Historically, the family has been viewed as the primary socialization agent of the child. Because of its central importance in the development of the child, the family has been the focus of considerable research. In the past, this work was dominated by psychoanalytic and behavioral theories and focused primarily on the impact of parental (especially maternal) practices on the behavior and adjustment of the child (cf. Goslin, 1968). A basic assumption of most of the early research was that socialization influences were largely unidirectional -- that is, from parent to child.

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