Psy210 – Chapter 11 & 12 – the family and social influences
The family system
• Socialization is the process of mutual shaping between parents and children.
• Families do not function in isolation.
• Each member of a family is constantly changing.
Primary system that will socialize children
Parents and children both socialize one another (two way street)
Lack support if don’t exist in macro system
If too rigid and don’t adapt well to changes
See pathology in above 2
The Ecological Systems Perspective
• Systems theory:
Systems are complex and organized.
Systems have their own identity.
Systems are relatively stable, but also undergo morphogenesis.
Systems reach a stage of equifinality.
Ideally organized in terms of subsystems
- Parent takes on role of parent vs. disorganized: parent acts like adolescent or doesn’t take on
- Chaos ensues when child must take on role of an adult/parent not developmentally ready
Identity: caring, abusive, rejective functional vs. dysfunctional
- High standards, perfectionist, and supportive vs. loving, good, and supportive
Stable but undergo change – transition of life, marriage, death, new babies
- Healthy families go thru changes easily
- Pathology (depression, anxiety, maladaptive behavior, high risk behavior) comes out if
disorganized or unrealistic identity
Multiple ways of reaching similar goals: understanding pathway aids in understanding function and
- Are pathways healthy or is intervention needed?
• Other principles of systems theory:
Each member of the family is interdependent on each other.
Families reach a stage of homeostasis.
Families have boundaries that vary in how open they are to outside forces.
Symptoms affect everyone in system
Healthy boundaries: parent is playing parent rule (setting rules, expectations)
The marital system
• Marital conflict both directly and indirectly impacts children.
• Parental conflict affects boys and girls differently:
Boys display more externalizing behaviour.
Girls display more internalizing behaviour. Boys more susceptible to negative consequences of parental conflict.
Direct: children physically see fights, arguments
Indirect: parents are depressed
- Females have more access to support than males
- Socially accepted for males to show external behavior
Impact of a New Baby on the Marital System
• Shift towards more traditional division of labour.
• Exceptional demands of a child can lead to marital conflict.
• Intervention programmes can help reduce risk faced by young families.
Due to feel like giving up career
The Parent-Child System
• Ways in which parents socialize children:
Attachment forms the basis of later family relationships.
Parents use learning principles.
Parental management of environment shapes social development
Motor and language skills develop, then issues are seen b/c now can walk and talk and harder to parent
Rewarding, descriptive praise
Parents control neighborhood they live in, school child goes to, activities child is enrolled into
Dimensions of Parental Behaviour
Parental warmth is important.
High levels of tension make socialization difficult.
Power-assertive methods of punishment compared to reasoning.
As children age, self-regulation and reasoning become more crucial.
If parent is warm, child will continue to please parent
Control means within arms’ reach
• Challenges to the Parenting Styles Approach
Child’s temperament and behaviors
Physical and social neighborhood
Families’ ethnic/cultural practices
• The Co-Parenting System
Gate-keeping form of co-parenting
Better for parents to be authoritarian in neighborhoods with low SES and high crime – emotions are not
The Sibling System
• Birth order informs place in the family and later outcomes. • Only children are not “spoiled brats.”
• Birth of a second child impacts treatment of first born, especially for boys.
• Older children may assume more responsibility.
More problematic when younger, get healthier as age
Poverty and Powerlessness
• Economic misery is related to child adjustment problems.
• Parents may be depressed, which can lead to marital conflict.
• Cycles of disadvantage are formed when one source of poverty leads to increasing
• Poverty is related to many negative outcomes for children.
Low birth rate
High mortality rate
Not enough food
Higher chance of abuse and neglect, witnessing crime
• Decline of the traditional nuclear family.
• More single-parent households:
Rise in the divorce rate.
Unmarried women having children.
• Number of working mothers also increased greatly.
• Transition period after separation is highly stressful.
• In the long-run, children are better off in stable homes headed by a single parent.
• No “protective” effect in staying together for the sake of the children.
Divorce & the Single-Parent Household
• Single mother headed households can experience many difficulties.
• In particular, boys may be more at risk.
• After the initial adjustment, situation improves.
• Single mothers face task overload, economic hardship and other problems.
• Quality of contact with non-custodial parent.
Poor health outcomes – medical and mental
Children tend to stay with mother
Family Interaction in Remarried Families
• Stepfathers are more likely to be uninvolved.
• Stepmothers “step” into the maternal role.
• Adolescent’s have more difficulty accepting a parent’s remarriage.
Higher IQ = worse you will do
Lower IQ is protective
Why? Children in Divorced and Remarried Families
• Adjustment difficulties can be immediate or delayed.
• Girls tend to adjust better than boys regardless of age.
• Parental divorce associated with premature death.
• Joint legal custody
• Joint physical custody
• Most divorced parents practice “parallel” parenting.
• Degree of parental conflict better predictor of adjustment than actual custody arrangement.
One week with one parent, next with other
Variation in parenting style
Late- Time Parenthood
• Delaying parenting until after thirty associated with better maternal and paternal practices.
More authoritative and healthy marriages in long-term
Better established careers, more educated around parenting, financially secure
Want to be parents
Gay & Lesbian Parents
• Gay and lesbian parents tend to equally share household duties.
• Children benefit when there is equal distribution of household work regardless of parent
• Children raised by lesbian parents develop normally.
• Little evidence of children raised by gay men.
Abused Children and Their Parents
• Reported child abuse has risen in the U.S.
• Child abusers are found in all social groups.
• Abusers are enmeshed in a web of dysfunction.