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Article

Child Support  

Delanie P. Pope and Joseph Kozakiewicz

Child support is the legal mechanism requiring parents to share in the economic support of their children. Under the law, parents are obligated to support their children regardless of whether they reside with them. Support calculations for noncustodial parents are based on many different factors, which vary from state to state. Enforcement is the single biggest challenge in the area of child support. The federal government continues to pass laws enhancing states' enforcement capabilities. Recipients of child support differ by race and ethnic group. Child support obligations are distinct from alimony and are usually independent of parenting time.

Article

Parenting of Queer Offspring  

Pamela J. Lannutti and Maria Butauski

Over recent decades, a growing body of research has consistently emphasized the importance of parental support of one’s queer (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, nonbinary, etc.) identity to their mental health and overall well-being. Parent–queer child relationships have increasingly drawn scholarly attention, with particular interest in children’s coming out (i.e., disclosing their queer identity) to their parents. Scholars have also focused on understanding parents’ experiences. Although researchers emphasize the importance of parents’ responses to their children coming out, as well as the importance of how people communicate and make sense of queer identities, the nature of parent–child communication beyond the initial coming out event is also central to the personal and relational well-being of parents and their queer children.

Article

Parental Involvement in the United States  

Amy Shuffelton

Parental involvement is frequently touted as a key part of any solution to the achievement gap in US schools. Yet the mainstream model of parental involvement has been challenged on the grounds that it neglects parents’ political agency, the cultural diversity of families, and the empirical evidence of limited efficacy. This article argues that to understand parental involvement’s promise and limitations, it is necessary to consider it in historical context. Accordingly, it traces the history of “parental involvement” as a policy goal through the past half century. It provides an account of the mainstream parental involvement research, as well as critiques. Ultimately, the article argues that parental involvement is neither boon nor bane. As an important aspect of the politics of public schooling, parental involvement has diverse effects, which can support or hinder equity and student success.

Article

Life Span: Parenting  

Daphne S. Cain and Terri Combs-Orme

Parenting is a key part of social-work practice and research, particularly in the child welfare arena. Despite significant research and theory in other disciplines about the importance of the parent–child relationship to the quality of parenting, the focus of social work appears to lie in narrow goals such as the prevention of abuse and child placement and to employ interventions that lack significant evidence of effectiveness. This entry summarizes social-work practice and research in the area of parenting and reviews the state of the art overall in research and knowledge about parenting.

Article

Conflict in Family Communication  

John P. Caughlin and Emily Gerlikovski

Conflict is a common experience in families. Although conflicts can be intense, most conflicts in families are about mundane issues such as housework, social life, schoolwork, or hygiene. Families’ negotiations over even such mundane topics, however, have important implications. Through conflicts with other family members, children typically first learn about managing difficulties with others, and the skills they learn in such conflicts are important to their social lives beyond their families. Yet poorly managed conflicts that become more intense or personal can undermine the well-being of families and family members. Family conflicts are extremely complex, and understanding them requires analysis at multiple levels, including examining the individual family members, dyads and larger groups within the family, and the sociocultural context in which families are embedded. At the individual level, family members’ conflict behaviors (e.g., exhibiting positive affect vs. negative affect), conflict skills (e.g., whether they are able to resolve problems), and cognitions (e.g., whether they make generous attributions about other family members' intent during disputes) all are important for understanding the impact of family conflicts. Examining conflict from the dyadic and polyadic levels recognizes that there are important features of conflict that are only apparent with a broader perspective. Dyadic and polyadic constructs include patterns of behavior, conflict outcomes that apply to all family members involved, and beliefs shared by family members. There are also particular types of relationships within families that have salient conflicts which have drawn considerable scholarly attention, such as parent–child or parent–adolescent conflicts, conflicts between siblings, marital conflicts, and conflicts between co-parents. In addition, families experience various transitions, and the life course of families influences conflict. Some key periods for conflict are the early years of marriage, the period of launching children and empty nest, and a family member navigating the end of life. Finally, family conflicts occur in a larger sociocultural context in which societal events and conditions affect family conflict. Such contextual factors include broad social structures (e.g., societal-level power dynamics between men and women), financial conditions, different co-cultural groups within a country, cross-cultural differences, and major events such as the COVID-19 pandemic that have direct effects on families and also elicit dramatic social responses that affect families. Despite the complexities, it is important to understand family conflict because of its implications for the health and well-being of families and family members.

Article

Parents as Agents for Change in Health and Risk Messaging  

Natoshia Askelson and Erica Spies

Parents can be the target of health and risk messages about their children and can be a channel by which children hear health messages. This dual role can make parents powerful agents for change in children’s health. Parents receive health messages from a variety of sources including health care providers, schools, the media, the government, and family. Parents tend to be a more frequent target for health messages when their children are infants or young. They receive many messages related to keeping their children safe. Most of these messages are not developed as part of a rigorous data-driven and theory-based intervention and often lack sophisticated message development and design. Furthermore, instead of segmenting parents and tailoring messages, parents are frequently treated as a monolith, with no diversity related to behavior or communication. As children age, parents can become the channel by which children can hear a health message. Parents of school-age children and adolescents are continually communicating messages to their children and are often targeted to communicate messages related to health or risk behaviors. Intentional efforts to encourage parents to talk to their children are often related to risk behaviors among older children. Specifically, parents are asked to convey messages about sexual health, alcohol and drug use, and driving. Evidence points to parent–child communication in general and communication about specific risk behaviors as protective for children. Research has also suggested that adolescents want to hear health messages from their parents. Parents are a natural choice to communicate about health and risk throughout childhood and adolescence due to the parent–child relationship and the influence parents can have over children. However, this special relationship does not automatically translate into parents having good communication skills. Messages designed to encourage parents to communicate with their children about a health topic have often been developed with the assumption that parents know what to communicate and how to effectively communicate with their children. Deficits in communication skills among parents have been recognized by some campaign developers, and an emphasis on developing those skills has been a significant part of some messages targeting parents. Health communication campaigns have been developed to inform parents about when and how to talk to their children about health issues such as alcohol, drugs, and sex. Unfortunately, not all parent–child communication is positive or effective and this can have potential unintended consequences. Treating parents as an audience in a more nuanced manner, with greater emphasis on evidence-based message development, could result in more effective messages and better health outcomes.

Article

Parent–Child Interaction  

Haley Kranstuber Horstman, Alexie Hays, and Ryan Maliski

The parent–child relationship is one of the most influential, important, and meaningful relationships in an individual’s life. The communication between parents and children fuels their bond and functions to socialize children (i.e., gender, career and work, relationship values and skills, and health behaviors), provide social support, show affection, make sense of their life experiences, engage in conflict, manage private information, and create a family communication environment. How parents and children manage these functions changes over time as their relationship adapts over the developmental periods of their lives. Mothers and fathers may also respond differently to the changing needs of their children, given the unique relational cultures that typically exist in mother–child versus father–child relationships. Although research on parent–child communication is vast and thorough, the constant changes faced by families in the 21st century—including more diverse family structures—provides ample avenues for future research on this complex relationship. Parent–child communication in diverse families (e.g., divorced/stepfamilies, adoptive, multiracial, LGBTQ, and military families) must account for the complexity of identities and experiences in these families. Further, changes in society such as advances in technology, the aging population, and differing parenting practices are also transforming the parent–child relationship. Because this relationship is a vital social resource for both parents and children throughout their lives, researchers will undoubtedly continue to seek to understand the complexities of this important family dyad.

Article

Family Law and Policy for LGBTQ Individuals and Families: Adoption, Foster Care, Assisted Reproduction, and Parental Rights  

Naomi G. Goldberg and Amira Hasenbush

LGBTQ-headed families face a complicated legal landscape when it comes to legal recognition. The 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling , permitting same-sex couples nationwide to marry, substantially shifted the legal landscape for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) parents. Many families now have access to legal recognition through joint adoption, stepparent adoption, and the long-held legal presumptions of parentage for children born to married parents. Yet access to marriage has not fully created the necessary legal protections for the diverse ways in which LGBTQ-headed families form and live their lives. The patchwork of legal protections across the states means that many LGBTQ-headed families lack needed security, stability, and legal recognition.

Article

Models of School-Family Relations  

Cristina Santamaría Graff and Brandon Sherman

For educators located in the Global North or South what it means to work with families in inclusive settings is often a reflection of fundamental conceptions of the very nature of schooling and learning. These conceptions, whether implicit or explicit theories, inform teacher practice, interaction, communication, and involvement when it comes to students’ parents, families, and communities. Understanding how theories of learning relate to family engagement and inclusive practices allows for (a) an accounting of established knowledge and practices and (b) more innovative future directions for engaging parents, families, and communities in schooling. Three specific theories of learning (behaviorist, sociocultural, and critical) demonstrate stark differences in how the roles of parents and family are understood in their children’s education. Each of these theoretical lenses produces different answers to the question of what it means to work with families. They entail different conceptualizations of parent/family engagement and inclusion, the challenges to this engagement and inclusion, and the tools used to address these challenges. Families can be positioned as passive recipients of knowledge, contributors to knowledge, or knowledge-makers. Regarding their child’s schooling, parents can be seen as supporters, contributors, or collaborators. They can be situated on the periphery of schooling or in the center. Contrasting and complementary elements of behavioral, sociocultural, and critical theories of learning provide insight into traditional, relational, and transformative approaches to working with families. These theoretical approaches entail practical implications as well, reflected in both standard educational practices and in extant findings in the field of educational research. This theoretical/practical approach allows for insight into why, in application, there is dissonance in perspectives among educators about how to work with families and what this work may entail and look like, and provides suggestions for how families and communities might come to play a more central role in the education of their children.

Article

Involving Parents in Schools  

Hilary Joyce

Parent involvement is a broad, multidimensional term that refers to parental attitudes, expectations, and behaviors related to their child’s learning and healthy development. Parent involvement in schools is linked to numerous positive outcomes for youth, teachers, and schools and is critical to school improvement; however a number of barriers often prevent parents from becoming fully involved with schools. Several models exist that provide key strategies to enhance parent and family involvement. This article defines parent involvement, explores an expanded view of parent involvement, describes common barriers, and outlines key strategies to enhance parent involvement. Possible implications for social work practice are also provided.

Article

Memorable Messages in Families  

Haley Kranstuber Horstman, Ellen Jordan, and Jinwen Yue

Families are (one of) the first and most influential socializing agents of our lives. Among the innumerable messages family members convey to each other, a select few are regarded as “memorable.” Memorable messages are “distinct communication units considered influential over the course of a person’s life.” Those messages that are most memorable are typically brief, direct, oral messages delivered by a higher-status, older, and likable individual to the recipient during their teen or young adult years. Although memorable messages were initially regarded as having positive implications for the receiver’s life, newer research has provided space for the negative implications and perceptions of these messages. Nonverbal communication elements and relational contexts and qualities are influential to the receptivity of memorable messages. Although memorable messages often originate from a family member, the sources of memorable messages can also be friends/peers, teachers, coworkers, or, in some cases, the media. Research on memorable messages has been largely concentrated in health and interpersonal/family communication contexts; organizational and instructional contexts have also been explored. Memorable message research in families has focused much on health topics (i.e., mental health, sexual health, body image and weight), socialization (i.e., around school, work, race, other topics), and coping with hardship. In these studies, memorable messages have largely been investigated through mixed-method survey-based research, but also through purely quantitative (i.e., survey-based) and qualitative (i.e., interview) methods as well. This research has been largely atheoretical but has been grounded in control theory and, more recently, the theory of memorable messages and communicated narrative sense-making theory. Future research and practical applications of family memorable message research include informing health campaigns and family life education programming.

Article

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Families and Parenting  

Gerald P. Mallon

According to U.S. census data, an estimated 270,313 American children were living in households headed by same-sex couples in 2005, and nearly twice that number had a single lesbian or gay parent. Since the 1990s, a quiet revolution has been blooming in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. More and more lesbians and gay men from all walks of life are becoming parents. LGBT people become parents for some of the same reasons that heterosexual people do. Some pursue parenting as single people and others seek to create a family as a couple; still other LGBT people became parents in a heterosexual relationship. Although there are many common themes between LGBT parenting and heterosexual parenting, there are also some unique features. Unlike their heterosexual counterparts, who couple, get pregnant, and give birth, most LGBT individuals and couples who wish to parent must consider many other variables in deciding whether to become parents because the birth option is not the only option.

Article

Pregnant and Parenting Adolescents  

Cynthia Franklin and Melissa Reeder

Adolescent parenthood continues to be a public health concern despite the fact that the numbers of adolescent births have been declining over the past decade. The United States ranks number one in adolescent pregnancies out of all the industrialized nations. While reducing the number of adolescent pregnancies is important, supporting those who do become young parents is equally vital and an important concern for social workers. This chapter covers the demographics of adolescent parents as well as the risk and protective factors associated with adolescent pregnancy and parenthood. In addition, it reviews the current state of program development and the need for additional research and evaluation.

Article

Grandparents  

Priscilla Gibson and Valandra

Little attention has been paid to the role of grandparents, yet this intergenerational family role has shifted both inside and outside of the family. Social policies have pushed it into public debate on the rights of grandparents. Although traditional characteristics remain, new contemporary aspects of the role have emerged. This entry provides content on the significant factors that prompted the diversity in grandparenting and its social construction by adult children, grandchildren, and society.

Article

Psychological Considerations of Adolescents in Sport and Performance  

Katherine A. Tamminen and Courtney Braun

Adolescent athletes face increasing opportunities for competition at higher levels, as well as increasing demands on their time, pressure from parents and coaches, and conflicts with teammates and opponents, all during a time when adolescents are exploring different aspects of their identity and sense of self. Sport is a context for adolescent development, and despite the wide array of positive benefits that have been associated with sport participation during adolescence and into adulthood, it is also acknowledged that sport participation does not automatically confer benefits to adolescent athletes, and it may lead to potentially negative experiences and poor psychosocial outcomes. Key concerns for researchers and practitioners working with adolescent athletes include managing various stressors and the development of adaptive coping strategies, the risk of experiencing sport burnout, bullying, and the potential for withdrawing or dropping out of sport. Despite these concerns, a large body of research among adolescent athletes provides evidence that athletes’ performance and positive psychosocial development may be enhanced among adolescent athletes by intentionally structuring the sport environment to promote positive outcomes; in particular, coaches, parents, and peers play an important role in shaping the sport experiences of adolescent athletes. Furthermore, the psychosocial characteristics and competencies associated with sport participation may not automatically transfer to other areas of adolescents’ lives unless they are intentionally and systematically structured to do so. It is important for coaches, parents, and sport administrators who are involved in developing and delivering programs for adolescent athletes to be aware of some of the psychosocial concerns that are relevant for this population, and to consider intentionally structuring sport programs to promote high levels of achievement as well as healthy psychological and social development among young athletes.

Article

Anxiety Disorders in Children and Young People  

Cathy Creswell, Sasha Walters, Brynjar Halldorsson, and Peter J. Lawrence

Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric disorders among children and young people, affecting an estimated 6.5% of children and young people worldwide. Childhood anxiety disorders often persist into adulthood if left untreated and are associated with a significant emotional and financial cost to individuals, their families, and wider society. Models of the development and maintenance of childhood anxiety disorders have underpinned prevention and treatment approaches, and cognitive behavioral treatments have good evidence for their efficacy. Ongoing challenges for the field include the need to improve outcomes for those that do not benefit from current prevention and treatment, and to increase access to those who could benefit.

Article

Family and Justice in Political Philosophy  

Serena Olsaretti

Political philosophers’ interest in the family—understood as a unit in which one or more adults discharge a socially and legally recognized role as primary carers of their children—has given rise to a rich and multifaceted body of literature. Some of the questions philosophers address concern justice and the family, specifically, that is, they concern the competing claims of individuals once it is acknowledged that, as well as being citizens, individuals have all been members of families as infants, and may be members of families as parents, and that how the family is structured and run has a profound impact on the prospects and opportunities of infants and of their parents, and on some interests of society as a whole. Two main sets of questions about the family and justice are as follows. The first set of questions concerns what the family owes society as a matter of justice, that is, how the family can and should help realize, or how it may hinder the achievement of, independently formulated demands of justice. One such demand is that of equality of opportunity: philosophers have debated whether the existence of the family necessarily threatens pursuit of equality of opportunity for children, and what may, or should, be done about this. They have offered a variety of diagnoses of the problem and solutions to it, depending on their views about the legitimacy of parental partiality and about the value of the parent–child relationship. Another demand of justice that may be in tension with the family is the demand not to diminish the fair shares of one’s fellow-citizens. Whether prospective parents must constrain their freedom to found and raise a family in light of considerations about the environmental impact that their having and rearing children will have for future generations, for example, is a growing concern among philosophers. The second set of questions about the family and justice concern what society owes families—that is, what citizens owe to one another as a matter of justice, insofar as they are actual or potential members of families. While there is widespread agreement that adults have a right to parent—and to parent their biological children, in particular—and that children have a right to be raised in families and typically by their biological parents, there is a wealth of different views regarding the grounds of these rights. The views differ depending on whether they appeal to people’s interests in freedom, or in well-being, or both, in order to justify access to the family. Whether, besides having the right to access the family, parents also have claims to having society share in the costs of having and raising children, is a further question that political philosophers have examined and on which they have offered diverging answers.

Article

Critical Race Parenting in Education  

Cheryl E. Matias and Shoshanna Bitz

Conceptualized as early as 2006 via ideas of the motherscholar, the concept of Critical Race Parenting (otherwise ParentCrit) was first identified in 2016 in an open access online journal to discuss pedagogical ways parents and children can coconstruct understanding about race, racism, whiteness, and white supremacy. Since then Critical Race Parenting/ParentCrit has become more popularized in academic circles, from peer-reviewed conference presentations to special issues by journals. The rationale behind ParentCrit definitions, theoretical roots, parallels to education, implications to education, scholarship and literature, and controversies are explicated to describe what ParentCrit is and where it came from. To effectively articulate its epistemological roots in the idea of the motherscholar to its relation to Critical Race Theory, one must delve into the purposes, evolution, and implications of ParentCrit in education.

Article

School Choice and Accountability  

Simon Burgess and Ellen Greaves

School choice and accountability are both mechanisms initially designed to improve standards of education in publicly provided schools, although they have been introduced worldwide with alternative motivations such as to promote equality of access to “good” schools. Economists were active in the initial design of school choice and accountability systems, and continue to advise and provide evidence to school authorities to improve the functioning of the “quasi-market.” School choice, defined broadly, is any system in which parents’ preferences over schools are an input to their child’s allocation to school. Milton Friedman initially hypothesized that school choice would increase the diversity of education providers and improve schools’ productivity through competition. As in the healthcare sector and other public services, “quasi-markets” can respond to choice and competition by improving standards to attract consumers. Theoretical and empirical work have interrogated this prediction and provided conditions for this prediction to hold. Another reason is to promote equality of access to “good” schools and therefore improve social mobility. Rather than school places being rationed through market forces in the form of higher house prices, for example, school choice can promote equality of access to popular schools. Research has typically considered the role of school choice in increasing segregation between different groups of pupils, however, due to differences in parents’ preferences for school attributes and, in some cases, the complexity of the system. School accountability is defined as the public provision of school-performance information, on a regular basis, in the same format, and using independent metrics. Accountability has two functions: providing incentives for schools, and information for parents and central authorities. School choice and accountability are linked, in that accountability provides information to parents making school choices, and school choice multiplies the incentive effect of public accountability. Research has studied the effect of school accountability on pupils’ attainment and the implications for teachers as an intermediate mechanism.

Article

Parent–Child Relations and Their Importance for Older Adults  

Kyungmin Kim and Yijung Kim

The parent-child relationship is one of the most significant social relations for many individuals. In particular, intergenerational ties to adult children often remain as one of the main social networks and sources of support provisions in later life. By reviewing the key literature on older parent-child relations, this article discussed the dynamics and complexity of intergenerational ties and their impact on the lives of older adults. First, we discussed theoretical perspectives that have guided recent research on intergenerational relations, including the life course perspective, and solidarity, conflict, and ambivalence models. Second, we reviewed the literature on structural aspects of the relations, including coresidence, proximity, and contact, and their implications for older adults’ health and well-being. Third, regarding a functional side of parent-child relations, we discussed the different types and implications of support exchanges between older adults and their adult children. Finally, our discussion concluded with the review of emotional qualities (i.e., positive, negative, and ambivalent) in parent-child relations and the factors that may complicate the intergenerational ties in later life. Our review revealed that the significance of parent-child ties remains with the changes in demographic, social, and cultural environments of our aging society, and the different dimensions of parent-child ties (i.e., structural, functional, and emotional) have important influences on older adults’ well-being, quality of life, and health. To better understand the implications of parent-child ties in later life, future research is needed to uncover the specific mechanisms by which different dimensions of intergenerational relations and health outcomes among family members are linked.