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ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES OF PARENTS


Dana McDermott, Ph.D. (2002)
School for New Learning, DePaul University
dmcderm2@depaul.edu


This is taken from a draft of a publication in preparation by D. McDermott entitled "Parenting education from k-12: Theoretical and empirical background and support." Portions of this material were prepared with support from New York State toward implementation of the parenting education requirement for high school graduation. It will be useful for many projects that call for theoretical framework and resources. This document may be duplicated for educational or advocacy purposes with acknowledgement of authorship.

References are listed at www.preparetomorrowsparents.org/references.html

 

From Brown (1998-revised 2001):

“The roles we expect parents to fulfill include: (a) providing basic needs and protecting children from the natural and social environment, (b) guiding physical and psychosocial development and (c) advocating within the wider community on behalf of children (Alvy, 1987; Small, 1990).

Basic needs include adequate nutritious food, a safe and secure shelter, clothing and medical care. Parents protect their children from psychological and physical threats in the environment including harm from individuals, groups or institutions by monitoring behavior and teaching self-protective skills. Parents are expected to provide guidance in cognitive, educational, physical, sexual, social, moral, cultural and spiritual development by setting limits, providing information and support, and modeling appropriate behaviors. In their advocacy roles, parents can promote safe neighborhoods and communities, good schools, and adequate recreational facilities, and help youth interact effectively with educational and economic institutions.

The capacity to meet parental responsibilities may be hierarchical in nature. Parents who must focus all their energies on providing basic needs and protection are less likely to be involved in guidance or advocacy functions. (Small, 1990). As daily life becomes more complex, parents find it increasingly difficult to perform these expected functions without assistance from the wider society. Both type and level of help needed vary because families are diverse in composition, structure, values, resources, and strengths. Providing ‘social support will positively influence parent functioning.’ {Powell, 1989, p. 93)”

From Simpson (2001):

Parent roles: “…to develop and maintain a relationship with children (teens in her report) that offers support and acceptance, while accommodating and affirming the teen’s increasing maturity.” (love and connect- p. 49). Parents also need to monitor their child’s activities “…through a process that increasingly involves less direct supervision and more communication, observation and networking with other adults.” (monitor ad observe- p. 52). A parent also needs to “uphold a clear evolving set of boundaries, maintaining important family rules and values but encouraging increased competence and maturity.” (guide and limit, p. p. 56). Parents also need to provide “ongoing information and support around decision- making skills, goals, and interpreting and navigating the larger world, teaching by example and ongoing dialogue.” (model and consult, p. 59). Children also need parents “to make available not only adequate nutrition, clothing, shelter, and health care, but also a supportive home environment and a network of caring adults.” (provide and advocate, p. 62).

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