Retrospect and Prospect in the Psychological Study of Families

By James P. McHale; Wendy S. Grolnick | Go to book overview

PART I
RETROSPECT AND PROSPECT
IN THE PSYCHOLOGICAL
STUDY OF PARENTING

The first part of this volume is devoted to research on parenting. Without question, most of psychology's theories about family influences on develop ment have viewed parent-child relations as the origin of both adaptive and maladaptive functioning. And until recently, with few exceptions, most empirical studies of parent-child relations in family psychology have been studies of mothers. Fittingly, then, in chapter 1 of this volume, Wendy Grolnick and Suzanne Gurland provide a critical discussion of mothering research, followed by a thoughtful overview of the voluminous and sometimes controversial literature on parenting. In chapter 2, Louise Silverstein reviews the much briefer history of research studies on fathers by psychologists, clarifying myths and arguing forcefully that we as a field should do all we can to hold future family researchers responsible for attending to fathers as well as mothers in their investigations. Ross Parke closes this first part of the volume by looking ahead to the future of parenting research in our field.

In their chapter on mothering, Grolnick and Gurland begin with a historical look at the way mothers have been depicted in the literature. They argue that the history of theorizing about mothering has been one of “mother blaming, ” an exclusive focus on mothers as responsible for children's negative behavior. They also suggest that, at the same time mothers have been the recipients of excessive blame, their roles in their children's lives have been ignored as they are seen as the backdrop against which other caretak-

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