CHFD 331 AMU week 2 lesson As We Become Parents American Military University
As we learnt in Lesson 1, a parent’s own childhood and parenting experiences influence their parenting approach. In fact, when surveyed, over half of all parents admitted that their parenting style is greatly affected by the way they were parented themselves (Lerner & Ciervo, 2010). However, 30 percent of surveyed parents indicated that the way they were parented had a moderate impact on the personal parenting style. Although that amounts to just over 80 percent of surveyed parents, parents also have media, historical patterns, and scientific research to inform their parenting style. This lesson will first examine the influences on parental style and then will explore the many different theories that exist (and have historically evolved)
Topics to be covered include:
- Influences on parenting style
- Theories on parenting style
- Theories on children’s growth and development
Influences on Parental Style Besides Upbringing
- Historical Accounts
Media resources are a significant source of information for parents. Increased access to and the speed of technology has put a wide range of information within close reach of many parents—especially ones who have disposable incomes that permit internet access. Parents can easily look up parenting websites that can advise on topics such as developmental stages, how to soothe sick babies, and when to call the doctor. Websites can also highlight issues in parenting and childcare and encourage debates that make parents think.
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter allow parents to maintain close contact with family, peers, and other parents to seek advice or share updates. Parents can create blogs where they chronicle their learning as a parent and encourage other parents to post comments. However, parents need to judge the accuracy of the information placed on websites and be aware that commercial sites are often trying to sell products rather than educate. Besides what is now to be considered
“traditional” computer use, where the parent researches on his or her personal computer or laptop, the advent and importance of the smartphone impacts the number of parents that are able to research using the World Wide Web. According to Smith’s (2015) recent research, two-thirds (64 percent) of American adults now own a smartphone. Other media such as radio, television, magazines, and newspapers are also resources for parents to learn about current issues in parenting.
Historical data shows that parents learned from how children were raised in the past. Historians have been able to document parental norms through many different forms such as through diaries, autobiographies, newspaper accounts and more. Early on, data was gathered to examine family-life and parenting styles of Western Europe and North America. Prior to the eighteenth century, life was difficult for children and there was little difference to separate adulthood from childhood. The further back in time one went, the lower the level of regard and care for children became. Finally, based on research by Pollock (1983, 1993), the more modern forms
of parenting were studied. Pollock focused on documents across the years of 1500 to 1900 in Britain and the United States and it was during this time that significant changes began to be noted. During this time, relationships between parents and children were improving, brutality was rarely experienced, and physical punishment became a form that was the “last resort” for parents. As it neared the current day, Pollock noted that parents became more concerned about health and education, but it was not until the seventeenth and eighteenth century that abstract questions–such as, “What does it mean to be a parent?” –appeared in documents. The documents examined by Pollock were items such as the five hundred diaries of parents and children, autobiographies, and newspaper accounts of court cases involving children.
The biggest change that Pollock noted occurring in the last five hundred years were actually driven by technological advances like refrigeration. With its advent, it became not only easier to feed, but also easier to serve healthier food. Pollock believed the limited variation in parenting practices was due to two fundamental features of child rearing: (1) the parents’ goal to protect and rear children to maturity, and (2) the children’s state of extended dependency. “Children … make demands on their parents and parents are forced to operate within the context of these demands. The parents in every century studied accommodated to the needs of
their offspring.” (Pollock, 1983, 1993)