Handbook of Dynamics in Parent-Child Relations

Article excerpt

Handbook of Dynamics in Parent-Child Relations. Leon Kuczynski (Ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. 2003. 488 pp. Hardcover ISBN: 0-7619-2364-0, $115.

Bringing "together researchers who have contributed to dynamic processes in parent-child relations to present a comprehensive overview of the field" (p. xii), this handbook has a distinctive focus on processes (rather than outcomes) in parent-child relationships. The 20 chapters steadily build the case for viewing parent/child relationships with dynamic bilateral (and multidirectional) lenses.

Kuczynski argues for a conceptual framework based on four interconnected models governing parent/child relationships: bidirectional causality, agency, power, and context. The time lag between emerging conceptual frameworks and the concrete (often unidirectional) frameworks used in research and practice is noted.

In the first section, Kuczynski provides a useful historical background on the emergence of bidirectional scholarship, including Harriet Rheingold's 1969 essay on the power and influence of infants to shape their parents' behavior. A cluster of scholars helped move the field away from correlational efforts "with parental antecedents on the left of the equation and child antecedents on the right" (p. x).

One of my favorite chapters provides an overview of the developmental neuroscience and biological processes that are involved in forming and maintaining parent-child relationships. The authors highlight the ways the central nervous system influences parenting responses and parenting experiences.

Part III focuses on parental agency, refraining the still dominant belief that parents have a set of skills that are stable and consistent over time. Parents alter their goals as they interact-with both parents and children changing over time.

Parent-child interactions in relational and ecological systems are the focus of Part IV. …

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