Parent-Child Relations throughout Life

By Karl Pillemer; Kathleen McCartney | Go to book overview

dren even when they work, paternal working conditions will still influence the content of the socialization she provides. Even considering that increases in marital disruption and out-of-wedlock births are reducing the amount of time children in the aggregate spend with fathers in the home, most children still spend considerable portions of their lives with both mothers and either biological fathers or stepfathers. Thus, paternal working conditions must also be considered; our later research is aimed at remedying this gap ( Menaghan & Parcel, 1989).

Third, we have neglected the fact that many of our model variables themselves change over time. Both mothers and children may experience multiple transitions during the first few years of a child's life: Young workers are more likely to move among several different jobs and to experience periods of unemployment, and women's work lives are more likely to be interrupted repeatedly to accommodate family needs ( U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1987). Their children's lives may be punctuated accordingly by a sequence of care arrangements. In addition, for many, the early adult years are times of marital and nonmarital partner change: Marital disruptions and new partnerships introduce a series of changes in family environments that have repercussions on both mothers and children. Family households may also be changed by the incorporation of children's aunts, uncles, or grandparents, and the birth of additional children. Such changes may permit or require different care arrangements, bring in additional income or increase economic pressures, and lead to changes in employment hours or conditions.

Most broadly, stability and change in child environments and child outcomes is a function of the quality and stability of both parents' work lives as well as the quality and stability of the parents' relationship with one another. Future work must more fully incorporate paternal variables and model change over time to provide a more complete portrayal of how parental work experiences and child environments may threaten or enhance early development, and to document the duration and possible reversibility of early developmental deficits. Although such incorporation is beyond the scope of this chapter, our current work is investigating these possibilities ( Parcel & Menaghan, 1990b). The model we have developed here, however, provides an important foundation for this larger story.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

An earlier version of this chapter was circulated for discussion and critique at the Theory Construction and Research Methodology Workshop held in conjunction with the National Council on Family Relations Annual Meetings, Philadelphia, PA, November 11, 1988. We are grateful to our discussants, Patricia Voydanoff and Sharon Price, and to the workshop participants for

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