To their everyday life with children, parents bring a number of ideas about development and about parenting. Some of these ideas are about their own children and about themselves as parents. Others are more general: ideas, for instance, about what babies are like, how children change with age, what kinds of affection and control they need, the responsibilities of mothers and fathers, or the degree of influence each parent has over the way a child develops. Moreover, the ideas that parents hold, shape their actions with children and the way they assess both their children and their own performance as parents.
With the recognition of parental thinking as a powerful factor in family life, research has turned to the study of this `everyday' or `informal' psychology. Some of the studies deal with the nature of parents' ideas: What ideas are held? Which are most widely shared? How do these ideas differ from one another? Some deal with the sources of parents' ideas: with the factors that give rise to differences among parents from different backgrounds (different cultures, different economic groups, different degrees of experience with children). Others concentrate on the consequences of parents' ideas for themselves and for children.
This monograph summarizes the research with an eye to several audiences (researchers, clinicians, educators) and with an emphasis on the questions that remain. A major goal is to point not only to significant gaps, but also to some specific ways in which they might be addressed by further research.
Table of Contents
Introduction. The Nature of Parents' Ideas: Descriptions by Content. The Nature of Parents' Ideas: Descriptions by Quality. The Sources of Parents' Ideas. Consequences: Emphasis on Parents. Consequences: Emphasis on Children. Concluding Comments. References. Author Index. Subject Index.
'Goodnow and Collins have presented us with a timely and unique set of essays on the development and function of parents' ideas. They review a selective body of literature, reflect on knowledge gaps about parents' ideas about the parenting function, and present a detailed research agenda...The chapters flow coherently with discussions of parents ideas and those ideas' characterisations, sources and consequences for parents and children...Goodnow and Collins have performed an exemplary service to the field expressed in their interdisciplinary organization of the study of parents ideas...This book is a must for anyone in the field, irrespective of his or her point of view.' - Contemporary Psychology; Reviewed by Irving E. Sigel
'This is a superb text... Remembering that it is part of a series of essays on child development, I am of the opinion that the organisation of the chapters (the `story line') couldn't be better. The authors' style is readable and content is erudite without being offputting. I am really impressed by this book and believe it will make a contribution not only to developmental psychology, but also social psychology and my own field, clinical child psychology... The authors, Goodnow and Collins, are to be congratulated.' - Professor Martin Herbert (Director of Clinical Courses, University of Leicester).