Home Responsibility for Educating Children (page 2)
Parents and caregivers bear great responsibility for children’s early learning and for the genesis of and support for the curriculum that children will use for their entire lives. Parents also have a significant role in nurturing the academic work children experience after entering school. No formal or legal demands exist that require parents to instruct their children. At the same time, common cultural assumptions regarding child rearing imply that parents will guide and prepare children for life in a community. Also, statutes concerning abuse and neglect have emerged over the years, and parents parsimonious in nurturing and guiding their children risk citations of maltreatment and its consequences (Lazzara & Poland, 2001). Parents must also be vigilant in protecting their child from abuse from others entrusted with their care.
Most societies do little to formally prepare parents for rearing children, and the United States is no exception. When extended families were more common, child raising was probably more coherent. Informal advice from other parents and extended family was more available, community standards were more constant, and families were far less mobile (Walsh, F., 2002). In today’s society, with its matrix of ever-increasing forces producing stress, mobility, and differing home styles, child-raising practice has become less consistent and more pressured (Elkind, 2001, 1994). Daily lives now are more frenetic, and some families come close to abandoning responsibilities for home guidance, and by default the media assumes a larger role. Unfortunately considerable amounts of information on television, films, video games, CDs, and the Internet tend to offer role models that “emphasize commercialism, sexuality, substance abuse, and violence” (Bronfenbrenner, 2001, p. 199).
Nonetheless, expectations for parents do exist, and persons in other social settings anticipate that families will provide these beginning experiences as children grow and move into the conventional school environment and the neighborhood.
Providing Consistent Social and Emotional Environments
Effective homes develop environments that nurture children’s social and emotional well-being, and the overriding dimension is one of care and interest. All of this translates into positive self-concepts for children, plus a good foundation for children’s self esteem. In addition, the child’s locus of control is directly related to the parenting that a child receives. Whether children see themselves or others in control determines the way they look toward the future.
How can we encourage parents in guiding and nurturing their children and at the same time to establish contacts outside the home? Workshops, information distribution, and discussions that parents attend are only part of the answer. Supporting families through family–school–community collaborations and involving parents in extended networks will do the most to enhance social and emotional health in homes. Benson (1997), Hammer and Turner (2000), and Gonzales-Mena (2006) all have nicely developed collaboration schemes.
Parents’ workplaces affect their perceptions of life and the way they interact with children and other family members (Bronfenbrenner & Crouter, 1982; Wohl, 1997). In turn, these perceptions foster parenting styles that conform to parents’ experiences and how they see themselves in the world. On the positive side, we have the effective-family investigations (Clark, 1983; Noddings, 2002; Scarf, 1997), showing that the functioning family views itself as a problem-solving unit with a mutual support system and a spiritual life that is valued.
Child-rearing patterns certainly affect children’s level of moral development. Children’s attitudes form early, and parents and peers have a significant impact through instruction, modeling, rewards, and punishments (Bronfenbrenner, Moen, & Garbarino, 1984). Children’s values tend to reflect those of their family, but other experiences also affect this development. Individuals exposed to many socializing agents (e.g., clergy members, family network friends, peers, and teachers) are more likely to achieve a higher level of moral reasoning than those exposed to only a few (Coles, 1997; Damon, 1988).
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