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14. A Topical Approach to. LIFE-SPAN DEVELOPMENT. Families, Lifestyles, and Parenting. John W. Santrock. Analyzing Family Life. The Family Life Cycle. Fig. 14.1. Marital relationship. Child behavior and development. Parenting. Analyzing Family Life.

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Life span development l.jpg


A Topical Approach to


Families, Lifestyles, and Parenting

John W. Santrock

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Analyzing Family Life

The Family Life Cycle

Fig. 14.1

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Marital relationship

Child behavior and development


Analyzing Family Life

Direct and Indirect Interactions Between Parents and Children

Fig. 14.2

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The Diversity of Adult Life Styles

Single Adults

  • Being single

    • Dramatic increase; tripled from 1970 to 2005

    • Single stereotypes

    • Advantages and disadvantages

    • Common problems

      • Forming intimate relationships with other adults

      • Loneliness

      • Finding niche in marriage oriented society

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The Diversity of Adult Life Styles

Percentage of Single Adults 30 to 34 Years of Age

Fig. 14.3

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The Diversity of Adult Life Styles

Cohabiting Adults

  • Dramatic rise in cohabiting before marriage

    • Higher in countries other than the U.S.

    • Cohabiting tends to be short-lived in U.S.

    • Comparing cohabitation to marriage

    • Advantages and disadvantages of cohabiting

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The Diversity of Adult Life Styles

Increase in Cohabitation in the U.S.

Fig. 14.4

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The Diversity of Adult Life Styles

Cohabiting Adults

  • Dramatic rise in cohabiting older adults

    • More for companionship than love

    • Expected to continue increasing

    • Separate assets best when one needs expensive care

    • More stable, positive relationship than young cohabitating couples

    • More depressed than married counterparts

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The Diversity of Adult Life Styles

Married Adults

  • Marital trends

    • Changing male-female equality in marriage has created more fragile, intense marital relationships

    • More adults remain single longer

    • U.S. still a marrying society; divorce rates slowing

    • Culture influences marriage

    • International comparisons in marriage

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Age (years)













The Diversity of Adult Life Styles

Increase in Age at 1st Marriage in U.S.

Fig. 14.5

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Establishing love maps

Nurturing fondness and admiration

Turning toward each other instead of away

Letting your partner influence you

Solving solvable conflicts

Overcoming gridlock

Creating shared meaning

The Diversity of Adult Life Styles

What Makes Marriages Work

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Premarital education

Improves quality of marriage

May reduce risk of divorce

Linked to higher level of commitment to spouse and lower level of destructive marital conflict

Benefits of a good marriage

Healthier lives

Lower levels of depression, anxiety, anger

The Diversity of Adult Life Styles

What Makes Marriages Work

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The Diversity of Adult Life Styles

Marriage in Middle and Late Adulthood

  • Middle Adulthood

    • Most marrieds express considerable satisfaction

  • Late Adulthood

    • Widowhood and adjustment

    • Adjustments needed at retirement

    • Happiness affected by each partner’s coping with aging

  • Divorced adults

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The Diversity of Adult Life Styles

Divorced Adults

  • If divorce occurs, it usually happens early in marriage

    • Stress of separation and divorce pose risks for psychological and physical difficulties

      • Psychiatric disorders and hospital admission

      • Clinical depression and alcoholism

      • Psychosomatic disorders

    • Custodial and non-custodial parents: economics and gender have varying effects

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Percent of divorcees











Years married

The Diversity of Adult Life Styles

Divorce Rate in Relation to Number of Years Married

Fig. 14.6

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The Diversity of Adult Life Styles

Dealing With Divorce

  • A chance for personal growth

  • Make decisions carefully

  • Focus more on the future than on past

  • Use your strengths and resources

  • Don’t expect success, happiness in all you do

  • You’re never trapped by one pathway

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The Diversity of Adult Life Styles

Divorced in Middle and Older Adults

  • Main reason for staying married: children

  • Main causes of divorce

  • For women

    • Verbal, physical, emotional abuse

    • Alcohol or drug abuse

    • Cheating

  • For men

    • No obvious problems, just fell out of love

    • Cheating

    • Different values, lifestyles

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The Diversity of Adult Life Styles

Remarried Adults

  • Complex histories and multiple relationships make adjustment difficult

    • Men remarry sooner than women

    • Stepfamilies face unique tasks

    • Many remarry for financial reasons, not love

    • Strategies: have realistic expectations and develop new positive relationships within family

  • Remarriage and Aging

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The Diversity of Adult Life Styles

Gay and Lesbian Adults

  • Similar in satisfactions and need to find balance as heterosexual couples

    • Satisfactions: loves, joys, conflicts

    • Needs: romantic love, affection, autonomy, equality

    • More flexible in gender roles than heterosexuals

    • Prefer long term, committed relationships

    • Lesbians usually do not have open relationships

    • Increasingly creating families with children

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The Diversity of Adult Life Styles

Amount of Same Sex Couples with Children

Fig. 14.7

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Parental Roles

  • Many plan to be parents; others are startled

  • Needs and expectations stimulate myths

  • Timing of parenthood

    • Advantages of having children early and later

  • Transition to parenting requires adapting

    • Choices of how to become parents

    • Career and role decisions

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Parents As Managers

  • Provide opportunities, monitor, act as social arrangers for children

  • Teach child to be independent, make competent decisions

  • Serve as regulators of children

  • Effective management produces best outcomes

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Power Assertion, Induction, and Withdrawal of Love

Power Assertion: intended to stop undesirable behavior though physical or verbal enforcement of parental control; includes demands, threats, withdrawal of privileges, spankings. Generally induces fear. Least effective.

Induction:encourage desirable behavior (or discourage undesirable behavior) by reasoning with child; includes setting limits, demonstrating logical consequences, explaining, discussion, getting ideas from child about what is fair. Most effective.

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Power Assertion, Induction, and Withdrawal of Love

Withdrawal of Love:may include ignoring, isolating, showing dislike for child.

Psychological Aggression

  • Verbal attacks that may result in psychological harm; yelling, screaming, swearing, threatening to spank, threatening to kick out of house. Occurs in at least 2/10 households, likely 4-5/10

  • 20% parents of toddlers engage in

  • 50% among parents of teens

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Parenting Styles


  • High on control but low on responsiveness

  • Characterized by low warmth

  • Little positive involvement with their children

  • Set rigid rules

  • Discipline harshly

  • Expect obey because of parental authority

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Parenting Styles


  • Show warm, responsive involvement

  • Set appropriate and clear standards

  • Communicate openly

  • Provide rationale for rules

  • Show respect for children’s rights and opinions

  • Encourage autonomy and independence, resulting in social competence

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Parenting Styles


  • Highly warm and responsive

  • Place few demands or expectations

  • Rules that exist are not clearly communicated or enforced so children left to make own decisions and regulate own behavior

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Parenting Styles


  • Leave children alone to make their own decisions and control own behavior

  • Place few demands, neglectful

  • Appearing emotionally detached, show little or no involvement in their children’s lives

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Consequences of Parenting Styles (Baumrind)



Social responsibility

Higher levels of achievement


Social incompetence

Anxiety about social comparison

Failure to show initiative

Poor communication skills

Lower school performance

Lower self-esteem

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Consequences of Parenting Styles (Baumrind)


  • Expect to get their own way

  • Show little respect for others

  • Never learn to control their own behavior

  • Lower school performance


  • Social incompetence

  • Lack of self-control

  • Lower school performance

    However, no one right way to raise children. Cause-effect not demonstrated (e.g., parent style causing child’s incompetence- consider innate factors, temperament)

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Restrictive, punitive style; parents exhort child to follow their directions and respect their work and effort


Encourages children to be independent but still places limits and controls on their actions



Parent very uninvolved in child’s life

Parents very involved with children, place few demands/controls on them



Baumrind’s Parenting Styles

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Parenting Styles in Context

  • Authoritative parenting linked to competence across wide range of

    • Ethnic groups

    • Social strata

    • Cultures

    • Family structures

    • Most associated with positive child outcomes in ethnic studies

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Punishment and Discipline

  • Historically, corporal punishment considered necessity and desirable for disciplining child

    • Legal in all states; used by majority of parents

    • Favored most in U.S. and Canada

    • Few research studies on physical punishment

    • Strong emotional support by parents reduced link between spanking and children’s problems

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Punishment and Discipline

  • Corporal punishment by parents associated with

    • Higher levels of immediate compliance

    • Increased aggression among children

    • Lower levels of moral internalization and mental health

  • Sweden outlawed physical spanking of a child in 1979

    • Youth rates of delinquency, alcohol use, rape, and suicide dropped

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Factors Linked to Child Abuse

  • Marital conflict and individual hosility linked to physical punishment

  • Co-parenting – poor coordination places child at risk

  • Child maltreatment

    • Almost 900,000 in 2002

    • 84% abused by parents

    • Mandatory reporting for professionals

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Types of Child Maltreatment

Physical abuse

Infliction of physical injury

Failure to provide basic needs

Child neglect

Fondling child’s genitals, sodomy, intercourse, incest, exhibitionism, rape, and commercial exploitation

Sexual abuse

Acts or omissions by parents or other caregivers that have caused, or could cause, serious behavioral, cognitive, or emotional problems


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Context of Abuse

  • No single factor is total cause

    • Violence in American culture through media, etc.

    • Family member interactions

    • Perpetuating history: parents abused as children

  • Developmental consequences

    • Emotional and relational/attachment problems

    • Personality problems and risk of suicide

    • Aggressive behaviors and substance use/abuse

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Autonomy and Attachment between Adolescents and Parents

  • Good parenting takes time and effort

    • Conflict when adolescents push for autonomy; gradual release of control is best

    • Gender and culture affect seeking and granting autonomy

    • Parent-child attachment remains important

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Parent-Adolescent Conflict

  • Conflict with parents escalates in early adolescence

    • Biological changes of puberty

    • Cognitive changes and idealism

    • Social changes and independence

    • Maturational changes

    • Violated expectations

  • Some cultures marked by less conflict

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Competent Adolescent Development

  • Enhanced when the parents…

    • Show them warmth and mutual respect

    • Demonstrate sustained interest in their lives

    • Recognize and adapt to their cognitive and

      socio-emotional development

    • Communication high standards and expectations

    • Deal constructively with conflict and problems

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Emerging Adult Development

  • Relationships with parents improve

    • Grow closer psychologically

    • Share more

    • Some emerging adult decisions may be troublesome for parents

    • Advantages and disadvantages to living in parents’ home

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Working Parents

  • Work has positive and negative effects on parenting

    • Effects of mother working in first year on child’s later development is still debated

    • Parents over-investing in children can have negative effects

    • Division of time for more chores and children

    • One- versus two-parent household

    • Latchkey children and out-of-school programs

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Effects of Divorce on Children

  • Children

    • More likely to show poorer adjustment

    • More likely to have academic and behavioral problems

    • Overall adjustment affected by social maturity, gender, temperament, custody situation, SES

  • Adjustment improves if

    • conflicts reduced by divorce

    • parents harmonious and authoritative

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Communicating with Children About Divorce

  • Explain separation

  • Separation not child’s fault

  • May take time to feel better

  • Keep door open for further discussion

  • Provide as much continuity as possible

  • Provide support for children and yourself

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  • Divorce and widowhood creates stepfamilies

    • Stepfather

    • Stepmother

    • Blended or complex

  • In stepfamilies, children show more adjustment problems

  • Gay Male and Lesbian Parents

    • Adjustment from heterosexual union to gay union

    • Extensive debate on effects of gay/lesbian families

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Other Family Relationships

Grandparenting and Great Grandparenting

  • Highly satisfying for most

    • Easier than parenting; enjoy frequent contact

    • Grandmothers have more contact

    • Functions of role varies in families, ethnic groups, and cultures; support, advice, child care

  • Rewards of Grandparenting

    • Biological continuity and reward

    • Emotional fulfillment, companionship

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Other Family Relationships

Changing Profile of Grandparents

  • Increasing number are raising their grandchildren due to

    • Divorce

    • Adolescent pregnancies

    • Drug use by parents

  • In 2000: 5.6 million children

  • Stress linked to raising grandchildren

  • Grandparents and great grandparents are living longer

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Other Family Relationships

Grandmothers and Grandfathers

  • Grandmother

    • Maintained family ties across generations

    • Have more contact with grandchildren than grandfather

  • Grandfathers

    • Few expectations for role, more voluntary

  • Changing profiles of grandparents

  • Little research done on great-grandparenting

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Other Family Relationships

Intergenerational Relationships

  • As children age, think more positively of their parents

    • Mother-daughter conflicts lessen over life course

    • Family members maintain considerable contact

    • Parents and young adult children describe their relationship differently; relationship related to nature of earlier relationship

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Other Family Relationships

Grandparents and Great Grandparents

  • Intergenerational relationships vary among cultures and ethnic groups

  • Common conflicts arise

    • Communication and interaction style

    • Habits and lifestyle choices

    • Childrearing practices and values

    • Affected by earlier family experiences

    • Affected by gender, education, and age

    • ‘Sandwich generation’ issues

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The End

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