Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Families, Risk, and Competence

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Families, Risk, and Competence

Article excerpt

Families, Risk, and Competence. Michael Lewis & Candice Feiring (Eds.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 1998. 350 pp. ISBN 08058-2345-X. $79.95 cloth, $39.95 paper.

Families, Risk, and Competence, edited by Michael Lewis and Candice Feiring, is a noteworthy addition to the literature concerned with the factors that influence child outcomes. The purpose of this volume, as the editors state in the preface, is to go beyond the mother-child dyad and look at other familial influences on child development. The 15chapter book is divided into two sections. The first broadly examines a variety of family-child interaction patterns and their effects, while the second more specifically describes family influences upon children at risk.

This volume has two great strengths. First, there is no double that a fuller understanding of the complex interplays that shape children will result when extra-maternal influences are examined. Second, the research presented is top-notch-the majority of the authors are among the most respected psychologists working in this field and they, for the most part, report findings drawn from large sample, longitudinal studies. Although the specificity of the findings will be of most interest to professionals, two of the chapters-the first by Lewis and Feiring and the second by Theodore Wachs-provide clear, concise introductions to systems theory and the ecological approach to development for those relatively unfamiliar with these perspectives.

If the main theme of the book is that there are multiple, synergistic influences on development, the second, often less overtly stated, theme is that the quality of an outcome depends upon the presence or absence of multiple, additive risk or protective factors. …

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