Nurturance In Families
Generally, nurturance means providing the basic necessities of life for children, but in a wider sense, it denotes general support, love, and cultivation for the growing child. In other words, nurturance is “parenting.”
Few adults are actually trained for nurturing roles, but our society expects certain minimums of support and effectiveness from parents as they rear children. The assumption is that nurturance, in its general and wider sense, has been modeled by preceding generations and is refined by an individual’s experience and participation in society. The range of nurturing competence in U.S. homes, however, is wide, indeed.
Range of Child Rearing
The nurturer accepts responsibilities not only for giving children basic physiological care, guidance, and love, but also for stimulating a child’s investigations of the world and monitoring the child’s social relationships with others. The nurturing parent is one who is grounded in humane practice and who has a vision of what children can become. Traditionally, this role has been filled by mothers and fathers; however, other loving adults, such as grandparents, older siblings, and foster parents can, and do, assume the responsibilities of parenting.
Some aspects of parenting may be instinctual, but the most effective nurturers have certain characteristics in common, such as motivation to be with children and knowledge about how to care for them. Health and a sense of well-being, empathy, predictability, responsiveness, and emotional availability have also been identified as traits that enhance parent effectiveness (Bornstein, 2001). On the other hand, certain traits like self-centeredness, depression, and drug or alcohol abuse can affect parenting adversely and may lead to abuse or neglect of children.
Abusive behavior in families moves parenting toward the antithesis of nurturing. Although few parents are so disordered in outlook as to carry out destructive acts with children, a significant number suffer lapses in judgment and vision that result in psychological and physical abuse or indifferent care practices and neglect. Even families with less desirable child-rearing habits frequently have positive qualities, however, and through education, counseling, and support, they can learn to modify detrimental practices.
In spite of highly publicized accounts of dysfunctional family situations, the norm in all communities is that parents are nurturing and concerned for the welfare of their youngsters. Consequently, this text does not focus on the pathologies that accompany abuse and indifference; rather, we have chosen to consider the range of positive nurturance that is featured in the great majority of U.S. families.
Because of the cultural diversity that exists in the United States, communities and schools will serve children who have been reared with various nurturing practices. All families are linked to particular cultural groups, and each group will possess unique values and mores that individual families will follow to a greater or lesser extent. In a community with two or more cultural groups, we find somewhat different viewpoints and probably different practices. Just because a community contains different cultural groups, however, does not mean that antagonism is present. On the contrary, quite different child-raising patterns can easily coexist and interact positively. Cross-cultural exchange might even help families solve child-rearing problems.
© ______ 2008, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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