The Problem with Parenting


By Nancy A. McDermott

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Family scholarship focuses predominately on the evolution of family structure and function, with only passing references to parenting. Researchers who study parenting, however, invariably regard it as a sociological phenomenon with complex motivations rooted in such factors as class, economic instability, and new technologies.

This book examines the relationship between changes to the family and the emergence of parenting, defined here as a specific mode of childrearing. It shows how, beginning in the 1970s, the family was transformed from a social unit that functioned as the primary institution for raising children into a vehicle for the nurturing and fulfillment of the self. The book pays special attention to socialization and describes how the change in our understanding of parenthood—from a state of being into the distinct activity of "parenting"—is indicative of a disruption of our ability to transfer key cultural values and norms from one generation to the next.

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The Problem with Parenting