mother children Children, Adolescents, Family

Some Topics

  • The Idea of Family

    The idea of a nuclear family consisting of two biological parents and one or more children living together in one home emerged strongly in 20th century affluent societies. The suburbs of all major cities in Canada and the USA were designed for one family detached houses and the great experiment in “nuclear families” began. Suburbs with their one family dwellings soon revealed repeating patterns of social pathology that received academic attention. The cost of detached houses increased and new architecture appeared to increase population densities but retain the idea of one family units. These families failed about half the time and those that persisted were not always happy, productive social units. Marriage became less popular, as parents were separating and divorcing. Single parent households became more common. Even when parents stayed with their children, they often both worked and spent little time at home. In my medical practice, I saw children under the care of one or two biological parents, step parents, adopting parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, brothers, sisters, social workers, foster care parents and same sex parents.

    Young children are random little creatures. They do all sorts of things that they should not do, make many mistakes and hurt themselves often. We recognize that the move toward two parent families probably involved an exaggeration of the importance of the pair bond that is less stable than life-long marriage proponents would wish. Smart observers are not inclined to blame men or women, or the system or the culture, but appreciate that social arrangements are in constant flux. You could argue that many different combinations of adults and children can form a functional family. What matters the most to children is that they have a home that protects and nurtures them and are loved by stable adults who provide guidance and support.

    Families were never wonderful and stable and there is no golden age of family life to return to. If there was a golden age, it was not mother-father and children living in nuclear families, but small groups of humans who lived and worked together in a symbiotic manner, the way social mammals have lived for millions of years. If there is a normative standard in our evolutionary history, it is the small, local community who lived in the same village, slept under one roof, shared resources, shared child-rearing responsibilities and had flexible relationships that changed over time. Woman and men tended to form separate groups and were not confined to monogamous pair-bonds. Women tended to support each other and shared child care responsibilities.

    This is not to argue that village groups are ideal or that members enjoyed harmonious, secure lives. The deepest feature of human social existence is tense, competitive interaction that requires daily attention to the feelings and needs of all the people who live close to you. Conflict is normal in human groups, small and large. If the goal is to reduce or eliminate conflict, then each member of the group has to learn and practice social skills that override innate tendencies with reason and affection. Celebrations and rituals are important to maintain the peace.

    We can ask: ‘How are children best cared for in this changing world of excessive population, scarce resources, migration and temporary pair-bonding?” Another question is: “Can social or economic policies realize idealistic goals such as restoring the “nuclear family”, resolving poverty and preventing crime?” I am not a fan of ‘top-down fixes of deeply rooted human tendencies. I shudder when I hear politicians proclaim that they will save the family by making federal funds available to family-support programs. Federal programs are amateurish meddling that, at best, will provide a short-term benefit to a small number of families. I am more enthusiastic about bottom-up solutions that originate with parents and the local community.

    Lakoff suggested: “Models of idealized family structure lie metaphorically at the heart of our politics. The very notion of the founding fathers uses a metaphor that construes the nation as a family, with familial roles, such as parents and children… The metaphor of the Nation as a Family maps the values and relationships from those family models onto our politics, creating "liberal" and "conservative" models. A progressive worldview represents, metaphorically, the Nurturant Parent family model, and the conservative worldview represents the Strict Father model. The two models come with distinct moral systems that are founded on different assumptions about the world, interpret shared values such as responsibility or fairness differently, and center around different moral priorities… those with a strong Strict Father model are likely to support a more punitive welfare or foreign policy than someone with a strong Nurturant Parent model, who are likely to favor more cooperative approaches. Those with a strong Nurturant Parent model are more likely to favor social policies that ensure the well-being of people such as health care and education, whereas someone with a strong Strict Father model would object to social programs in favor of promoting self-reliance.”

    Persona Digital Books

  • Children and the Family by Stephen Gislason MD examines the intense interactions of parents and children. Available as a printed book or as an inexpensive eBook download. 275 Pages.
  • From Dr. G's preface:" Parents receive a lot of advice from many people. Popular magazines and books offer a continuous stream of conflicting advice. Professionals have a variety of opinions about child-rearing that range from helpful suggestions to misleading and even bizarre ideas. Child psychology is an eclectic assembly of ideas, miscellaneous observations, opinions, fears and irrational beliefs. Confusion prevails in education about what children should learn and how they should learn it. If psychologists, physicians, and educators are confused, what about parents? Parenting is difficult and long-term relationships sometimes fail. The best parents are pragmatic and not theorists. They stay involved with their children, follow some basic guidelines they learned and tend to do whatever works. Good parents improvise childcare with a combination of innate generosity, common sense, love and concessions to the demands of modern life."

    Order Children and the Family as an eBook for Download

    Additional recommended reading includes the books
    Intelligence & Learning Language and Thinking Feeding Children and the Alpha Nutrition Program


    Order Persona Books

    Click the Add to Cart button on the left; you will go to Alpha Online to begin your order for printed books for mail delivery to US and Canada. Click download buttons to order eBooks for download. Click the book titles (center column) to read topics from each book.

    Print Books Read Topics Download
    Human Nature
    The Environment
    The Good Person
    The Puzzle
    The Sound of Music
    Surviving Human Nature
    Language and Thinking
    I and Thou
    Emotions and Feelings
    Neuroscience Notes
    Human Brain
    Children and Family
    Religion, 21st Century

    Alpha Nutrition is a registered trademark and a division of Environmed Research Inc. in Sechelt, British Columbia, Canada. In business since 1984. Online since 1995. Persona Digital is a registered business in BC.

    Persona Digital Books