Individuals and Families in a Diverse Society essay

Parenting is a serious challenge to any person, be this person old or young, male or female. To facilitate the parenting process, different nations of the world have come up with many different norms and conventions that provide guidelines for young parents. Although these norms have undergone profound transformation in the course of history, they remain an important part of culture, affecting gender relationships.

The difference in parenting ways in different cultures is vividly demonstrated by cross-cultural studies of parenting. In American culture, for example, it is normal to put a baby in a bed isolated from the mother and ignore the baby’s cries, while it is considered totally intolerable in many African tribes. The discrepancy in parental models will affect especially multicultural families where partners will both be used to different parenting styles.

Philips (n. d. ) provides an insightful discussion of how his Japanese wife and himself had to discuss issues like ways of organizing children’s birthdays, sacrifices for the sake of others, independence/interdependence, unconditional love versus the need to instill justice and order, and inner directed security versus outer directed service. Children in an adult age allow parents to realize one of the strategies for coping with aging – generativity.

In Erickson’s developmental stages, middle adulthood in the time period between 30 and 60 is noted for juxtaposition of generativity and stagnation (Fay, n. d. ). Parenting is one way of realizing generativity and saving the person from stagnation, allowing for the development of talents and gifts that may not always be realized in the career or pastimes. Children give adults opportunities for psychological growth as the parents mature, learning to take care of their kids.

They realize that they have received a chance to give birth to something that will live after them and embody their views, ideas, and attitudes. Children can also provide the background for continuity as opposed to disengagement in the older adulthood as older people can still have somebody to rely on and share their ideas with at a later age. The development of parenting methods over time developed consistently so as to follow the theories and ideas in place at any time.

While earlier it the history of mankind the main goal of parenting was seen as restriction of children’s innate follies and sins and disciplining them to fit into social conventions, today the emphasis is frequently on the “Natural Child” so that parents could let talents and abilities develop freely. Besides, there is increasingly a shift from relying on physical punishment to discipline the child. The popular now “Taking Children Seriously” philosophy sees both praise and punishment as manipulative and harmful to children and advocates other methods to reach agreement with them” (Wikipedia, 2006).

The shift toward development of the child’s individuality occurred in the first place under the influence of Benjamin Spock, a top authority to a generation of care-givers who applied the principles of psychoanalysis to argue for a model of development that focuses on the internal needs of the child rather than discipline. Some interpret this shift in parenting ideology as a focus on permissiveness, however. With its serious challenges, parenting undoubtedly affects gender and marital relationships.

With the appearance of a new member of the family, be it a child born or adopted, the couple acquires new responsibilities that requires them to balance with the existing ones. Some shift toward being good parents neglecting their spouses; others continue to be good to their spouses, while neglecting parenting; the ideal variation, of course, is to join efforts in the child’s education.

Belsky & Fearon (2004) call these families Consistently Supportive while other types include “Consistently Moderate (i. e. , moderate marriage, moderate parenting.43%), Consistently Risky (i. e. , poor parenting, poor marriage, 16%), Good Parenting/Poor Marriage (19%), and Poor Parenting/Good Marriage”. Thus, parenting represents a great challenge at the individual and social level. An individual has to cope with the challenge of adjusting to a new situation and balancing parenting with marriage relationships. Society, on the contrary, has to come up with ideas that will make parenting a pleasurable process and facilitate the challenge of raising children, providing apt guidelines for the process.


Belsky, J. , & Fearon R. M. (2004). Exploring marriage-parenting typologies and their contextual antecedents and developmental sequelae. Development Psychopathology 16(3), 501-23. Fay, V. P. (n. d. ). Theories of Aging. Retrieved July 21, 2006, from http://son. uth. tmc. edu/coa/FDGN_1/RESOURCES/Age_Theories. ppt#1 Phillips, T. C. (n. d. ). Parenting from the Experience of a Multicultural Family. Retrieved July 21, 2006, from http://www. tparents. org/Library/Unification/Books/RCoP/RCoP-3-5. htm