Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Book Reviews -- Nonresidential Parenting: New Vistas in Family Living Edited by Charlene Depner and James Bray

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Book Reviews -- Nonresidential Parenting: New Vistas in Family Living Edited by Charlene Depner and James Bray

Article excerpt

DEPNER, Charlene and James BRAY, eds., NONRESIDENTIAL PARENTING: New Vistas in Family Living. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications Inc., 1993, 218pp., $23.95 softcover/ $46.00.

The complexity and interrelatedness of issues and themes of nonresidential parenting pose a challenge not only to the editors of this collection of articles but to families, practitioners, policy ;analysts, and researchers. As the editors of Nonresidential Parenting point out, the heterogeneity of nonresidential family relationship patterns and their dynamic interaction with changing social, economic, and cultural contexts requires a multidimensional approach to policy, practice and research. This volume represents a commendable effort to do just that.

Part I introduces the reader to the concept of nonresidential parenting in terms of living arrangements as opposed o legal definitions of parenting roles or normative characterizations implied by such terms as absent parent or broken home. In Chapter 2 Carmen and Virgo underscore the diversity them by describing variations found among ethnic minority groups, and the following chapter by Depner reviews the unique concerns and issues facing the nonresidential mother. Rather than comparing these family arrangements to the nuclear family, the authors urge the reader to consider the strengths and challenges as experienced by these families.

In addition, the authors in Part i emphasize the interrelatedness of parenting alternatives, societal and cultural norms, and clinical and policy responses thereby setting the stage for the studies presented in Part II in which the authors report findings of investigations ranging from the impact of income maintenance policies (Chapter 4) to a comparison of effects of conflict resolution through mediation and the traditional adversarial methods (Chapter 7). Chapters 6 and 8 provide more intimate examinations of the interactions of nonresidential parents, their children and other members of their respective kin systems over time. The authors of Chapter 5 offer exchange theory as a possible framework for examining the visitation patterns of nonresidential parents and review studies that support its viability as a theoretical approach.

Overall, the coverage of issues is broad and inclusive, and what appears to be almost a hodge-podge of articles reflects the state of affairs experienced by those who attempt to sort out and make sense of family adaptations and society's responses to changing forms of family life. …

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