Chapter 12 Becoming a Parent
Fertility Trends in the U.S. • Family Size • Different Fertility Rates • Choosing Large Families in a Small Family Era • Race/Ethnicity and Differential Fertility Rates
Family Size • Total Fertility Rate (TFR)—The number of births a typical woman will have over her lifetime. • On average, American women are having around two children each. • The ideal family size in the United States is 2.5 children. • The United States appears to have strong fertility norms encouraging at least two children and discouraging childlessness and one-child families. • At the same time, choosing not to be a parent is becoming more acceptable. • Childlessness is higher for women now than in the past. • We continue to see childbearing increasingly shifted to later ages. • Declining infant mortality rates • It became unnecessary to bear so many children to ensure the survival of a few
Different Fertility Rates • Fertility rates vary among segments of the population. • Usually, more highly educated and well-off families have fewer children. • Changes in the economy and subsequently in gender roles • As women’s employment increased, fertility declined. • Beliefs and values about having children vary among cultures.
The Decision to Parent or Not to Parent • Variations in birthrates reflect decisions shaped by values and attitudes about children. • In a 2002 survey, stated that as many as half of all births may be unintended. • 14% unwanted • 21% mistimed
Is American Society Antinatalist? • Some argue that U.S. society has become antinatalist—slanted against having children or not doing all it can to support parents and their children. • Compared to other nations at our economic level, nutrition, social service, financial aid, and education programs directly affecting the welfare of children are not adequate.
Motivations for Parenthood • Value of children perspective – The idea that children bring unique benefits to parents • Can bring vitality and a sense of purpose into a household. • Having a child broadens a parent’s role in the world: • Mothers and fathers become nurturers, advocates, authority figures, counselors, caregivers, and playmates.
How Children Affect Marital Happiness • Evidence shows that children, especially young ones, stabilize marriage. • But a stable marriage is not necessarily a happy one. • Research finds that not only do parents report lower marital satisfaction than nonparents, but the more children there are, the lower marital satisfaction is. • Parents are also more likely to experience depression than are nonparents.
Remaining Childfree • Factors: • Greater ability to control fertility • Participation of women in work force • Concern about overpopulation • Rejection of the traditional family • The voluntarily childless: • have more education • more likely to have managerial or professional employment • higher incomes. • less traditional in gender roles • less likely to have a religious affiliation • less conventional than their counterparts • Value relative freedom to change jobs or careers, move around the country, and pursue endeavors • More satisfied with their relationships than parenting couples
The One-Child Family • The proportion of one-child families in America appears to be growing due to three factors: • women’s increasing career opportunities • the high cost of raising a child through college • peer support Advantages • Parents report they can enjoy parenthood without feeling overwhelmed and tied down. • They have more free time and are better off financially. • Family members share decisions more equally and can afford to do more things together. • Higher educational expectations for the child • More likely to know child’s friends • Had more money saved for college education • Child tends to receive more personal attention from parents.
The One-Child Family Disadvantages • Lack of opportunity to experience sibling relationships • Only children may face extra pressure from parents to succeed. • As adults, they have no help in caring for aging parents. • For parents, there is the fear that the only child will be injured or die and that they only have one chance to prove themselves good parents.
Nonmarital Births • Teen Parents: • The U.S has the highest teen pregnancy, abortion, and birth rates of any industrialized country. • Most teen women are not married, and they lack the economic support of a spouse and co-parent. • Face a bleak educational future, limited job prospects, and a very good chance of living in poverty. • Prospects for the children of teen parents include: • lower academic achievement • a trend toward a cycle of early unmarried pregnancy themselves(because of the lack of resources related to poverty) • Economic and/or racial/ethnic disadvantages may play a larger role than age in shaping a teen mother’s limited future.
Factors Influencing Parenting • Parents have higher level of education today than in the past. • Technology • The internet provides information for parents regarding just about any situation • Communication technologies allow for more contact and engagement • A society characterized by diverse and conflicting values • Sandwich generation: Caring for young children and for older family members • Stress that parents experience—from sources such as job demands, financial worries, concerns about neighborhood safety—causes: • parental frustration • anger and depression • increasing likelihood of household conflict and child abuse
A Stress Model of Parental Effectiveness • This leads to poorer parenting practices: • inconsistent discipline • limited parental warmth or involvement • lower levels of trust and communication • Having social support mediates this adverse relationship.
The Transition to Parenthood • The transition to parenthood can be difficult for a number of reasons, including upset schedules and lack of sleep. • Paradox of Parenting • New parents feel overwhelmed. • The motivation to overcome stress comes from the stressor. • The child is a source of love, joy, and satisfaction. • Less time available for relaxation • Declines in emotional and sexual relationship • Employed mothers with established egalitarian relationships with husbands may find their role becoming more traditional.
Doing Motherhood • Mothers engage in more hands-on parenting than do fathers. • Take primary responsibility • Psychological Parent: Holds major emotional responsibility for safety and upbringing • Mothers define quality time as having heart-to-heart talks or engaging in child-centered activities.
Doing Fatherhood • Historically fathers have been breadwinners, not expected to be engaged in daily activities/responsibilities. • Today, fathers are expected to also actively participate in the child’s care. • Better educated fathers with more satisfying jobs showed a higher level of parenting engagement. • Experiencing workplace stressors adds to fathers’ stress, resulting in less effective parenting. • Fathers’ involvement positive cognitive, emotional, and behavioral outcomes • Fathers’ absence adverse effects on children’s cognitive, moral, and social development
Parenting Style: a general manner of relating to and disciplining children Comparing the Paradigms • Dominant Paradigm • Non-Violent Paradigm
Assumptions of the Dominant Paradigm • Parents know best and must be respected at all times. Parents use “power over” to control their children • Parents are disciplinarians, using their power to judge children’s behavior and feelings as appropriate or inappropriate. Children must obey their parents without questioning. Questioning is “talking back.” • Children act out to get attention. If you give children too much attention, you will spoil them and they will manipulate you in order to get what you want. • Love is given conditionally depending on the child’s behavior. The child earns love by complying with the adults wishes. Love is withdrawn when the child is disobedient. • Rules are to be followed without questioning • Children’s behavior is seen as good or bad. Their intentions are suspect. • Bad behavior is punished, and good behavior is praised and rewarded. • Punishment techniques, including fear, shame, and guilt, are used to control children’s behavior. • Praise and rewards are given when children are deserving of positive reinforcement for certain acceptable behaviors • A child deserves what he/she gets from his/her parents
Tools of the Dominant Paradigm • Conditional love • Corporal punishment—the goal is to create physical pain to teach a lesson. Include a swat, spank, smack, push, pinch on the arm, pulling the hair or ear, and a tap on the bottom or the back of the hand. • Shaming—parents judge the child’s behavior, opinions, and ideas by saying negative things about the child. This hurts the child’s sense of self-worth. Includes belittling, humiliating, and comparing the child’s abilities, gender competency, or age. • Manipulation—praise and rewards—stickers, stars for good behavior, toys and candy as prizes—are given when the child pleases the adult. Threats and bribes are used as well.
Assumptions of the Nonviolent Paradigm • Love is unconditional • Parents are in relationship with their children. • Parents use their “power with” to guide, support, and teach • Parents reflect upon the effect of their own childhood experiences on their parenting expectations and limitations. • Children are born longing for attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection, and autonomy. • All behavior is seen as a strategy to satisfy an unmet need. • Parents are an emotional vocabulary to validate children’s needs and feelings. • Through empathy or putting oneself in another’s shoes, parents connect with what is alive for the child at any given moment. • Realistic, age appropriate expectations for behavior are set with an understanding that each child has an internal developmental clock which unfolds on his/her timeline. • A child’s voice is heard and responded to with respect and empathy.
Child Abuse • There are four primary types of child abuse: • Physical • Sexual • Emotional/Psychological/Verbal • Neglect
1. Physical abuse • An adult’s physical act of aggression directed at a child that causes injury, even if the adult didn’t intend to hurt the child. Include: striking a child with the hand, fist, or foot or with an object; burning the child with a hot object, shaking, pushing, or throwing a child, pinching or biting the child; pulling a child by the hair; cutting of a child’s air. • Shaken baby syndrome—in which a frustrated caregiver shakes a baby roughly to make the baby stop crying. The baby’s neck muscles can’t support the baby’s head yet and the brain bounces round inside its skull, suffering damage that often leads to severe neurological problems and even death.
Is corporal punishment the same as physical abuse? • Corporal punishment, the use of physical force with the intent of inflicting bodily pain, but not injury, for the purpose of correction or control, used to be a very common form of discipline. • Many child care experts have come to agree that corporal punishment sends the message to children that physical force is an appropriate response to problems or opposition.
2. Sexual abuse • Any sexual act between an adult and a child. Such acts include: behavior involving penetration, fondling, violations of privacy, or exposing children to adult sexuality. • The adult who sexually abuses a child or adolescent is usually someone the child knows and is supposed to trust: a relative, childcare provider, family friend, neighbor, teacher, coach, or clergy member. More than 80% of sex offenders are people the child or adolescent victims know.
3. Emotional abuse • Involves behavior that interferes with a child’s mental health or social development: the systematic tearing down of another human being. • While emotional abuse by itself doesn’t involve the infliction of physical pain or inappropriate physical contact, it can have more long-lasting negative psychological affects that either physical abuse or sexual abuse. Examples include: • Verbal abuse—belittling or shaming the child: name calling, making negative comparisons to others, telling the child that she/he is “no good,”“worthless,” or “a mistake,”telling the child that everything is her/his fault. • Withholding affection—ignoring or disregarding the child, or lack of affection and warmth: failure to hug, praise, or express love for the child. • Extreme punishment—these are actions that are meant to isolate and terrorize the child.
4. Neglect • Neglect is a pattern of failing to provide for a child’s basic needs to the extent that the child’s physical and /or psychological well being are damaged or endangered. • In child neglect, the parents or caregivers are simply choosing not to do their job. • There are 3 basic types of neglect: physical, educational, emotional.
Social Class and Parenting • Socioeconomic Status (SES): one’s position in society, measured by educational achievement, occupations, and/or income • All opportunities and experiences (life chances) are influenced by SES. • Family education and income have more influence on parenting behaviors and children’s outcomes than do race/ethnicity or family structure.
Social Class and Parenting • Middle- and Upper-Middle-Class Parents • Can better afford to provide for their children’s needs and wants • Have fewer children • Emphasize concerted cultivation of their child’s talents and development • Often praise their children, play with them, read to them, create and enforce rules, engage their children in extracurricular activities, take them on outings, enroll them in private or charter schools, and say there are people in their neighborhood they can count on. • Volunteer at the children’s school, thus securing educational advantages for their child • Likely to get parenting information from professional sources
Social Class and Parenting • Working-Class Parents • View intensive development parenting models as negative, creating demanding children • Tend to follow the facilitation of natural growth parenting model, according to which children’s abilities are allowed to develop naturally • Tend to be authoritarian, emphasizing obedience and conformity • More likely to tell children what to do rather than persuade them with reason • Encourage children to keep their thoughts and questions to themselves • Working-class children likely to grow up with feelings of discomfort, constraint, and distrust regarding school and work experiences
Social Class and Parenting • Low-Income and Poverty-Level Parents • Difficult to establish support systems • Hinders children’s chances for educational success • Struggle to give children a few “extras” • Less likely to live in neighborhoods that value education or high achievement • Parental control more difficult • Decreased mental and physical health • Most likely to be homeless
What Do Children Need? • Encouragement • Adequate nutrition and shelter • Parental interest in their schooling • Consistency in rules and expectations • Guidance congruent with the child’s age or development level
Toward Better Parenting • Optimal parenting involves: • Supportive family communication • Involvement in a child’s life and school • Private safety nets • Adequate economic resources • Workplace policies that facilitate a healthy work-family balance • Safe and healthy neighborhoods • Society-wide policies that bolster all parents