Reflections about doing well. Continuity and Change in the Cuture of Parenting from Social Actor's Perspective
Ottosen, Mai Heide
Department for children, youth and families The Danish National Institute of Social Research Copenhagen, Denmark
Social theorists have suggested that democratisation of family relationships have emerged over the past decades. One aspect of this democratisation process may be changes in the culture of parenting. Today, the parent-child-relationship is said to rely less on discipline and control for its own success, and more on a dynamic, bi-directional model of control that allows for children´s resourcefulness and skillfulness in the face of new and demanding challenges. Such changes tend to remove parents from an authoritarian position and place them instead in an authoritative position in the roles as advisors, coaches, and consultants.
The paper explores how changes in aspects of the culture of parenting are experienced and articulated over time from a social actor perspective: How has the process of modernization been experienced from the perspective of everyday life and through the lenses of now middle-aged parents from different socio-economic segments of the Danish population, and once youth, themselves? The paper focuses in particular on accounts on parental expectations/aspirations and the possible outcome: Social meanings of 'doing well' in life. How do parents think about their own socialization experiences regarding this issue and how do they select which values to pass on, abandon, or modify when they come to socialize their own children?
The empirical analysis draws upon a qualitative study, gathered among middle-aged informants from the working class, middle class and upper-middle classes. Most informants had children who were teenagers or young adults. Methodology was inspired by French sociologist Daniel Bertaux's development of cases histories of families.