Assignment: Do Parents Matter?
Most of us have been raised to believe that our parents play the most important role in our lives. And, traditionally, developmental psychologists (e.g., Freud, Erikson) have placed a great deal of emphasis on the impact of parents. But what if parents are not as important as previously thought?
More recent theory and research has challenged this assumption by suggesting that individual characteristics (e.g., temperament) and forces outside the family (e.g., peers) are more important in shaping development. How does this new information challenge your previously held beliefs?
To prepare for the Assignment:
• Review your course text readings from previous weeks, paying particular attention to any research related to parent’s roles. Focus on content that addresses early attachment, parenting styles, and discipline.
• Review the articles “Do Parents Matter” and “Developmental Interplay Between Children’s Biobehavioral Risk and the Parenting Environment From Toddler to Early School Age: Prediction of Socialization Outcomes in Preadolescence.”
• After reviewing the academic information available, formulate your own opinion on this topic.
The Assignment (5–6 pages):
• Summarize the research on the impact of temperament on development. This should include how it might shape our interactions with parents, peers, and in the school environment.
• Summarize the research concerning the impact of parents. This should include the formation of secure/insecure attachments during infancy and the impact this may have on later development.
• Summarize the impact of parenting styles and ongoing monitoring during middle childhood and adolescence on development.
• Summarize the research on the impact of peers, including early play, friendships, and the negative side of peer interactions (e.g., rejection and bullying) on development.
• Consider the arguments of Harris in Gladwell’s blog post, “Do Parents Matter?”
• Consider the relative influence of all these factors in the prompt as you state your educated opinion of whether or not parents “matter.”
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