Stance: Studies on the Family is associated with Brigham Young University. This student journal was created to encourage students from all disciplines to research and to write about the institution of marriage and family. Our journal emphasizes the impact that marriage and family have on society and increases awareness of current issues affecting the family. We encourage professionalism, respect, and tolerance.
Studies on the Family
Studies on the Family
Studies on the Family
John Livingstone, Academic Advisor Catherine Ann Hollingsworth, Editor-in-Chief Sarah Perkins, Managing Senior Editor Conor Hilton, Senior Editor Sam Lund, Social Media Advisor Becca Barrus, Creative Director Ashley Smith, Creative Writing Editor Allie Bowen, Editor Allison Hamilton, Editor Ariel Peterson, Editor BrookeAnn Henriksen, Editor Courtney Johansson, Editor Faith Sutherlin, Editor Jennifer Johnson, Editor Kimball Gardner, Editor Morgan Lewis, Editor Rachel Harris, Editor Shelby Olsen, Editor
Cover artwork courtesy of Melissa Hiatt. Special thanks to the Collegiate Network for their support. The contents represent the opinions and beliefs of the authors and not necessarily those of the editors, staff, advisors, Collegiate Network, Brigham Young University, or its sponsoring institution, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While the editors and staff have checked the contents for accuracy, responsibility remains with the authors for content and sources cited within. Current students are invited to submit manuscripts as well as any questions or comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright ÂŠ 2015 All rights reserved.
Stance: Studies on the Family Printed in the United States of America.
Table of Contents
What is a Woman Worth? Tanner Call .......................................................................................................................... 1
The Longitudinal Effects on Divorce on Cognitive Development in Children Audrey Blackham .............................................................................................................. 5
The Art Exhibit: "Wall to Wall" Melissa Hiatt ......................................................................................................................13
Family and Community Empowerment in TomĂĄs Riveraâ€™s . . . And the Earth Did Not Devour Him: a Contextual Perspective on Present-Day Migrant Labor Issues Sharman Gill ...................................................................................................................... 21
Maternal Sensitivity and Infant Attachment Brianna Fox ........................................................................................................................ 33
Gender and the Division of Household Labor Wes Jeffrey ......................................................................................................................... 43
Minimizing the Effects of Poverty: Changing Impoversihed Children's Futures Through Family Relationships Rebecca McKinnon Tanner ........................................................................................... 55
Art: "Knightly Duty" Paul Gallo ........................................................................................................................... 65
One Isn't the Loneliest Number Lottie Elizabeth Peterson ............................................................................................... 67
Interview with Dr. Heather Belnap-Jensen Becca Barrus & Catherine Ann Hollingsworth ....................................................... 71
The Battle Within: A Case Study of Sibling Relationships Jennifer K. Wahlquist ...................................................................................................... 79
Grandpa's Garden Shayla Frandsen ................................................................................................................. 85
To Marry or Not to Marry: What Jane Austen's Persuasion Teaches Mormons about the Duality of Duty and Risk Conor Hilton .................................................................................................................... 87
Art: "family," "lighthouse," & "the trip" Sun Yeong Oh .................................................................................................................... 99
Disabled Parents and Child Outcomes: How Disabled Parents Can Accommodate to Improve Their Children's Well-being Alizabeth Leake Worley ................................................................................................ 103
Letter From the Editor
Richard Bach said, "The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life." With familyâ€”brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, aunts and uncles, cousins and nephews and neices, grandparents and grandchildrenâ€”there is a great need for love, respect, and joy. This journal includes personal essays, artwork, creative writing, an interview, and academic papers. Here you can learn about how sibling relationships work, how divorce affects children, how mothers and their babies connect, and how disabled parents can still have good relationships with their own children. Read and ponder the worth of women and current issues, such as migrant labor problems and minimixing the effects of povery through building supportive family relationships. Appreciate the artwork, which shows a wide variety of perspectives and insight of what families and communities mean to each artist. I'm happy to present the Winter 2015 version of Stance: Studies on the Family. My hope is that while you read and ponder the words on these pages that you will be inspired to share this journal with those individuals close to you in your life. Thank you. Catherine Ann Hollingsworth Editor-in-Chief x
What is a Woman Worth? Tanner Call
guess I just don’t get it. You would think a society with two faces would be able to see better, yet our modern world seems to be just that: two-faced and blind. Here in America, we boast about how we have a progressing society, about how we are gaining civil rights for all and have zero tolerance for discrimination and bigotry. We tweet, post, blog, like, and share anything that supports equality while simultaneously rejecting and shutting down people, places, websites, and companies that seem to fight against such advances. Whether or not you agree with the direction in which our society is heading is not the point; everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion and has the right to express it how they want. What really confuses me is that, after putting so much effort into opening the world’s eyes, our society can so quickly step back into archaic stereotypes and biases, especially when it involves women and their worth. Recently there has been an uproar over a certain fast food company’s commercials and their blatant use of sexual explicitness to garner viewers and customers. Naturally, an enormous backlash has been seen among family-oriented people such as parents with young children who were exposed to the commercial’s promiscuity, but I have yet to see a surge from anyone else. 1
2 • Stance: Studies on the Family Companies are sued, CEO’s are forced into resignation, and the media catch fire when inequality towards women rears its ugly face, yet a company objectifies and misrepresents women’s sexuality in order to gather customers, and the one main argument that is brought to the table is that these commercials are “bad for our children to see.” Don’t get me wrong—I agree that young children should not be exposed to such mature content, but why is this the most prominent argument? Yes, there are feminists rallying for justice against these companies that teach women that they are only as valuable as their near-naked bodies, but these voices are often suppressed in favor of promoting consumerism. Yes, there are progressives demanding change from the companies that present women as mere objects to be used as advertisement, yet they are rarely heard or recognized. Really, where are the decent human beings, on either side of the political scale or range of ethics, who believe a woman’s worth is not based on her sex appeal or the objectification of her body? I know our society is divided among religious, racial, ethnic, political, and numerous other lines, but I would think that we could at least come together on this issue: a woman is so much more than what those vulgar commercials are inherently trying to put into the minds of society. Shouldn’t we all have that in common? Maybe you think it’s unfitting for children, maybe you think it’s morally unacceptable, maybe you think it’s a shallow representation of what a real woman is, or maybe you have some other reason to believe those commercials are wildly inappropriate. In reality, whatever motive you have is not as important as joining together and letting society know that we will not stand for such obscenities. Then, just maybe, the big wigs and hotshots of government and commercial industries will see that we’re not willing to swallow whatever indecencies they send our way and maybe they’ll make a change. Women are daughters of God with a divine birthright and endless potential; they have been endowed with certain traits and characteristics that help them nurture, love, and take care of God’s spirit children that he sends here to Earth. We do not need any worldly entity or commercial business to manipulate what a woman is worth. We need to speak out and let the world know that women are more than anything this world can define. Women, equals alongside men, are glorious beings meant to excel in this life, in every aspect, and to return one day to our Heavenly Father.
Stance: Studies on the Family • 3 A woman is worth so much more than the appearance of her body; she is a beloved spirit daughter of our Heavenly Father who desires the best for her. It’s time the world understood that.
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The Longitudinal Effects of Divorce on Cognitive Development in Children Audrey Blackham
little more than fifty percent of families today experience divorce. Fifty percent of those families involve children, and one out of every ten children experiences more than one parental divorce across their lifetime (APA, 2014). Some parents believe that the divorce will reestablish peace in the home and be for the childâ€™s betterment. In many cases, this is a correct notion and it does reestablish a more tranquil, stable environment where children can learn, but it is not without its difficulties. Divorce, once a non-normative change, has become more normative in recent years and leaves an immense strain on all involved, especially on young children and adolescents and their cognitive development. Regardless of how great mothers and fathers are in their parenting, divorce leaves lasting effects on childrenâ€™s cognitive development through early childhood, adolescence, and emerging adulthood. This long term effect on cognition can be overcome with help, and in the end increased self-efficacy can eventually be achieved.
Effects on Cognition in Childhood The effects of divorce on cognitive development have much to do with the phase at which the child is developing. In comparison, young children that come from stable two-parent homes between the ages of six and seven do 5
6 • Stance: Studies on the Family increasingly better than their divorced counterparts when assessed in their cognitive abilities (Clarke-Stewart et al., 2000). Specifically, divorce shares a negative association with how well children do in their academic performance as well as their psychological ability to regulate their emotions. Divorce that occurs during early childhood also affects the development of the child’s self-esteem, which has been shown to later imply risk-taking and delinquent behavior in adolescents, as well as an increased likelihood of dropping out of high school (Clarke-Stewart et al., 2000; Kim, 2011). Hyun Sik Kim (2011) conducted a longitudinal study that followed children from their early grade school years through the eighth grade that provided insight on how divorce during early childhood has a lasting impact on these individuals. Major findings from this study concluded that pre-divorce stress is just as much a playing factor as divorce in regard to hindering the child’s development of cognitive abilities, such as academic performance. Longitudinally, children who struggled in their academic achievement early on showed an increasing struggle and gap in that achievement through the eighth grade compared to their peers who did not experience their parents’ divorce (Kim, 2011). In addition to Kim’s study (2011), M. Richards and M.E.J Wadsworth (2004) specifically found that those who came from divorced families “averaged an estimated 5.4 points” lower in their math scores than their peers who had non-divorced parents (498). While academic achievement is one way to observe the effects of divorce on child’s cognitive development, it is only one aspect that shows how significantly divorce impacts cognitive development in children. The observation of the emotional thinking process is another significant aspect impacted by this non-normative change. Andre Derdyn and colleagues (2001) made breakthrough findings in how young children internalize their parents’ divorce. More often than not, children blame themselves for their parents’ divorce and in many ways take on the responsibility that accompanies it (Derdyn et al., 2001). The child who places blame on themselves ascribes the divorce to their failings or lack of closeness with the parent who moves out during the separation period. When divorce is experienced by children under the age of eight, according to Piaget, they are still experiencing pre-operational thought. Specifically, their thinking is egocentric, meaning they cannot clearly hold other people’s perspectives in mind. Furthermore, they do not see themselves
Stance: Studies on the Family • 7 as collateral damage; because their relationship with the leaving parent is central to them, they perceive it as central to everyone. It does not make sense to a child at this age that the marital relationship, which does not involve them, could trump their relationship with either parent. Because children at this age still lack this level of formal operational thinking, they do not have a stable sense of self and thus are more greatly impacted by the idea that the divorce had to be their fault, for that is what cognitively makes sense in their egocentric brain (Derdyn et al., 2001).
Divorce, Adolescent Cognition, and Autonomy Egocentrism follows children into early adolescence. When feelings of responsibility for the parents’ divorce and feelings of inadequacy or failure are not addressed, those feelings continue as the child transitions into the early years of adolescence. Such feelings can have a direct impact on how adolescent’s cognitive autonomy develops. M. Richards and M.E.J Wadsworth (2004) investigated the long term effects of this disruption on early cognitive function. Through the use of multiple linear regression, they found that adolescents that endure the adversity of divorce show a reduced ability to function cognitively comparatively to their peers of non-divorced parents (Richards & Wadsworth, 2004). This correlation, however, has its limitations as socioeconomic status and variance of parenting was controlled, and it is often difficult to gain concise data from participant bias. Socioeconomic status addresses a greater issue of cognitive ability as does the variation in methods of parenting. In many cases, children or adolescents faced with their parents’ divorce become a part of single-parent families, with the mom typically being the primary caregiver. Despite alimony and child support, it has been found that many families once of middle or upper class socioeconomic standing suffer a financial plunge and become classified among lower and impoverished income families (Guinart, 2014). Reduction in financial means paired with the new stress of being a single parent can often lead to more diminished, less effective ways of parenting. This change in financial standing is not only a result of divorce but impacts an increased lack of cognitive ability due to a decrease in opportunities to help children of divorce succeed in academics or find constructive outlets.
8 • Stance: Studies on the Family Without constructive opportunities, adolescents often struggle to become cognitively autonomous and often experience some measure of identity foreclosure as a result. Formal operational thought becomes hindered and adolescents’ ability to think abstractly and learn problem-solving skills to survive on their own is adversely affected (Richards & Wadsworth, 2004). Overall Richards and Wadsworth (2004) discuss the implications of divorce taking a toll on eight years of cognitive development; for example, when divorce occurs during the child’s adolescent years, they are less likely to pursue college or other secondary school options. Without making these necessary steps into the future, adolescents of divorce face an increasingly challenging reality as they emerge into adulthood lacking necessary formal cognitive thought.
Moving Forward: Cognition in Emerging Adulthood Under normal circumstances, emerging adulthood is a time for adolescents to fine tune what field of study they want to go into and what kind of people they want to build lasting relationships with, including marriage. This period of life also marks the peak of cognitive development as the frontal cortex finishes fully developing around twenty-five years of age. For emerging adults who witnessed their parents’ divorce in early childhood, the original effects are not as readily apparent to their peers who witnessed parental divorce during their adolescence. Dostal and Rohling (1997) examined this variation of influence based on time period through questionnaires and self-efficacy reports given to college-age students of divorced families. The analysis of the results concludes that adolescents and children of divorced families on average show significantly lower scores in their self-efficacy and relational-efficacy as they become adults and try to form lasting relationships of their own (Dostal & Rohling, 1997). These lower scores come not only from witnessing parental divorce but also from experiencing victimization from parents and, in some situations, emotional or physical abuse. Those children who experience victimization specifically from the father tend to have even lower marriageefficacy and often end up divorced later in life. While it is apparent how victimization in divorce impacts the development of self-efficacy, Dostal fails to recognize that human beings are equipped with the ability to adapt. Adaptation is defined as the ability to adjust and
Stance: Studies on the Family • 9 habituate to what could be considered as the new norm for that child’s life. Recent studies have shown that the more adaptive and resilient the individual is, the greater capacity they have to overcome their parents’ divorce and live just as normal a life as their peers who grew up with two parents in the home (Luhmann et al., 2012). Personality plays a fundamental role in how children and adolescents cognitively adapt to their parents’ divorce, and how that adaptation benefits them as they emerge into adulthood. Luhmann and colleagues (2012) suggest that children and adolescents who are able to cognitively adapt to the initial negative reaction to their parents’ divorce report more positive subjective well-being about who they are and where their lives are heading as they emerge into adulthood. Furthermore, emerging adults who have been impacted by their parents’ divorce report less divorce-specific dysfunctional attitudes and often go on to have strong self-efficacy and successful marriages (Lakey et al., 2000).
Final Discussion Divorce is a non-normative major life event that impacts over fifty percent of the child population in the United States today (APA, 2014). Surprisingly, divorce is number three after bereavement and unemployment of parents in how majorly it affects the cognitive development of children and adolescents (Luhman et al., 2012). This statistic does not dismiss, however, the intensity of the effects divorce has on cognitive development in children and adolescents. While the child physically experiences the effects of detachment, changed environment, and parental conflict, it is the child’s cognitive ability and development that is most strongly impacted as divorce triggers adverse cognitive experiences such as fear of abandonment, potential delinquency, substance abuse, and lower academic performance (Guinart, 2014). Regardless of how well parents raise their children, the effects of divorce are long-lasting on the child’s cognitive development through the life course. What needs to be recognized from the research and from the experiences of these children, adolescents, and adults, is that cognitively their school grades may suffer and the heavy burden they feel may be a detriment for a time in their development as they explore and gain understanding of the world around them. However, with added help and support, these individuals will not only adapt to this non-normative part of life becoming the new normal, but with resilience can develop stronger self-efficacy and the cognitive ability to handle hard
10 • Stance: Studies on the Family situations in life (Lakey et al., 2000; Luhmann et al., 2012). Essentially, those children, adolescents, and emerging adults will still feel the negative effects of their parents’ divorce long-term, but they will also develop positive cognitive abilities to overcome future difficulties that lie before them.
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References Clarke-Stewart, K. A., Vandell, D. L., McCartney, K., Owen, M. T., & Booth, C. (2000). “Effects of Parental Separation and Divorce on Very Young Children.” Journal of family psychology, 14(2), 304–326. doi:10.1037/0893-318.104.22.1684. Derdeyn, A. P. (2001). “Children in Divorce: Intervention in the Phase of Separation.” Pediatrics, 60(1), 20. Dostal, C., & Langhinrichsen-Rohling, J. (1997). “Relationship-Specific Cognition and Family-Of-Origin Divorce and Abuse.” Journal of divorce & remarriage, 27(3/4), 101. Guinart, M., & Grau, M. (2014). “Qualitative Analysis of the Short-Term and Long-Term Impact of Family Breakdown on Children: Case Study.” Journal of divorce & remarriage, 55(5), 408–422. doi:10.1080/10502556. 2014.920687. Kim, H. S. (2011). “Consequences of Parental Divorce for Child Development.” American sociological review, 76(3), 487–511. doi:10.1177/0003122411407748. Lakey, B., Anan, R. M., Sirl, K., Drew, J. B., & Butler, C. (2000). “Exposure to Major Stressors May Reduce Dysfunctional Cognition About Them.” Journal of applied social psychology, 30(10), 2079–2091. Luhmann, M., Hofmann, W., Eid, M., & Lucas, R. E. (2012). “Subjective Well-Being and Adaptation to Life Events: A Meta-Analysis.” Journal of personality & social psychology, 102(3), 592–615. doi:10.1037/a0025948. “Marriage & Divorce.” (2014, January 6). Retrieved December 6, 2014. http://www.apa.org/topics/divorce/. Richards, M., & Wadsworth, M. J. (2004). “Long Term Effects of Early Adversity on Cognitive Function.” Archives of disease in childhood, 89(10), 922-927. doi:10.11 36/adc.2003.032490.
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The Art Exhibit “Wall to Wall” Melissa Hiatt
There is more to Melissa Hiatt’s artwork than a first glance entails. The textures and color palettes of her art are surprising; although the muted tones don’t immediately catch the eye, they are, rather than boring, wonderfully soothing. The texture is what really makes them unique. It’s almost as if the viewer isn’t supposed to just look at the art but is invited to experience it through touch as well. Like the calming paintings, you may think of your family as a constant that’s always there, but don’t really think about them more than that. They can be crazy, and they can be supportive, but they are always family. These pieces inspire viewers to think more about family and participate more in experiences with family. A couple of the pieces are called “Scraped Down,” which is not only applicable to the art style but also to the principle of the exhibit as a whole. There is so much going on in life—jobs, school, callings, friends, hobbies—that sometimes it’s easy to feel swamped. What’s left after everything else has gone away? Maybe it’s your physical home, maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s your biological family, maybe it’s not. Maybe you’ve had to make your own home and family from those in your community. However, if we scrape back the superfluousness, home and the family are the core of our beings. On the following pages, these paintings, which are pictures from the original exhibit, remind us to appreciate what we have and strive to keep improving our connections. —Becca Barrus, Creative Director of Stance: Studies on the Family 13
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Untitled No. 2
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Scraped-down No. 1
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Scraped-down No. 2
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Scraped-down No. 3
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Family and Community Empowerment in Tomás Rivera’s . . . And the Earth Did Not Devour Him: A Contextual Perspective on Present-Day Migrant Labor Issues
griculture and food sourcing in the United States create a paradox. We revere “the family farm system believed to be the pillar of the nation’s democracy” (Skaggs 633), and yet many of the nation’s farms and tables depend on immigrant labor from Mexico. Furthermore, much of this invisible workforce is undocumented and thus targeted by aggressive deportation law. Americans enjoy in-season California crops of asparagus, grapes, tomatoes, peaches, and plums at reasonable prices, and yet we are usually blind to the politics and ethics of migrant labor. The New York Times captures a burgeoning frustration among farm owners who are unable to employ enough workers. As these farmers compete with an increase in food importation to the United States, they are a rising voice for revolution in immigration law (Medina). Other proponents for change urge for ethical laws that support family unity and a free society (“The Utah Compact”), while protecting the rights of children working in agriculture (“Children’s Rights;” Maki). Such reforms may run at odds with aggressive post–9/11 measures to tighten borders and to deport illegal immigrants already living in the country. With President Obama’s recent sweep of immigrant legalization and the associated Republican backlash, a tension in the politics surrounding immigration continues.
22 • Stance: Studies on the Family Even in an earlier era, when the U.S.-Mexican border was more permeable to crossings and the political climate was less focused on border security, the conditions of the migrant worker were severe. Tomás Rivera, a Chicano author and educator, experienced this severity—poverty, racism, child labor, and exploitation—during the 1950s as the son of two migrant workers. He captured his experiences and impressions in the award-winning novel . . . And the Earth Did Not Devour Him, published in 1971. This compilation of fourteen vignettes, with interspersed cuadros, reveals both vulnerability and empowerment in a group of Mexican and MexicanAmerican migrants during the 1950s. Furthermore, . . . And the Earth functions as a comparative context for present-day migrant issues, revealing a political relevancy that calls attention to family and community as a counter-stance against marginalization.
Family and Community Themes
Family and community are underpinning themes in . . . And the Earth. Migrant workers coalesce in the midst of economic destitution, physical and mental illness, premature death, exploitation by white superiors, racism, hopelessness, and helplessness. A child protagonist weaves in and out of these experiences, and, in the final story “Under the House,” processes them through a stream-of-consciousness narrative. This experience produces a sudden happiness: “He realized that in reality he hadn’t lost anything. He had made a discovery. To discover and rediscover and piece things together. This to this, that to that, all with all. That was it. That was everything. He was thrilled” (152). The boy sees himself within the memory and experiences of a people with common hardships and resilience. This communal empowerment leads him toward expression; in the last scene, he begins to communicate with an expectation for response. He climbs a tree and looks to another tree in the horizon, imagining “someone perched on top, gazing across at him. He even raised one arm and waved it back and forth so that the other could see that he knew he was there” (152). This scene evokes a sense of community—the Chicano community—and the capability of expression and response. Scholarship asserts that Rivera’s . . . And the Earth is an indication of a cohesive community. In Rivera’s study “Chicano Literature: The Establishment of Community,” he explains that the 1970s and ‘80s were an era when Chicanos strove to establish the idea of community through language and myth. He states, “Clearly, the impetus to document and
Stance: Studies on the Family • 23 develop the Chicano community became the essential raison d’etre of the Chicano Movement itself and of the writers who tried to express that” (22). The community-themed scholarship of Fredericksen, Saldívar and Vallejos affirm . . . And the Earth to be an indication of such an effort on Rivera’s part. Fredericksen explores the theme of movement in the novel and finds migration as a mode that builds community and selfidentification, despite continual oppression from a dominant culture. Saldívar asserts a connection between individual strength and community. In analyzing the end of the novel, he describes the protagonist as an individual who is placed “within the larger social world as he scans the scenes, people, and events that have formed the substance of his narrative and achieves an almost utopian lucidity of insight and transparency of identity” (86). Like Fredericksen, he acknowledges an isolated individual who develops a consciousness as a social being; it is within this social context that the idea of empowerment emerges. Vallejos addresses a similar idea—how the migrant develops a social consciousness—but explores it through structural technique and the theme of family. He sees a metaphysical ritual process in the family structure, one in which the child experiences isolation followed by reintegration into family and associated traditions, thereby reintegrating into the greater community as well. He interprets the arc of experiences in . . . And the Earth as a rite of passage for puberty. For example, vignettes that hone themes of separation such as “The Children Couldn’t Wait,” “A Prayer,” and “The Night the Lights Went Out,” represent the first isolating phase in the rite of passage. The next phase includes most of the novel with examples such as “The Lost Year,” “And the Earth Did Not Part,” and “It was a Silvery Night.” These narratives discuss more of a metaphorical and ideological separation—a transitional phase. The final phase is one of reintegration and occurs in such narratives as “When We Arrive” and “Under the House,” incorporating a sense of resolution that completes the ritual process. Thus, the isolation or victimization works toward an end—both in form and content—as the child moves from separation to a transitional phase of self-discovery, and finally to a place of reintegration within the family and community. Despite the external threats on the Chicano family from a hostile larger community and an oppressive labor system, the migrants maintain strength through family and community solidarity (10).
24 • Stance: Studies on the Family The following contextual examples of family and community consolidation in “When We Arrive” and “When the Lights Went Out” emphasize family unity and the cohesive element of love, both embedded in the people and created through a chosen narrative. In “When We Arrive,” Rivera presents a discord of frustrated voices, rising in the night, from a broken-down truck. Individuals painfully recognize and protest the horrors that accompany their lives. Yet amidst this chaotic despair (and occasional cruel commentary) there is empathy and concern for one another, particularly for family members. On behalf of the women: “I hope my vieja is doing all right in there, carrying the baby and all” (142); “When we get there I’m gonna see about getting a good bed for my vieja. Her kidneys are really bothering her a lot nowadays” (145). On behalf of the men: “Poor viejo. He must be real tired now, standing up the whole trip. I saw him nodding off a little while ago. And with no way to help him . . .”; “I hope I’ll be able to help him out in the fields. . . .”; “I just hope I’ll be able to help him. God willing, I’ll be able to help him” (144). On behalf of the children: “. . . the kids must feel real tired standing like this all the way and with nothing to hold on to. Us grownups can at least hold on to this center bar that supports the canvas” (142); “If things go well this year, maybe we’ll buy us a car so we won’t have to travel this way, like cattle. The girls are pretty big now and I know they feel embarrassed” (143); “. . . these kids, they need to start going to school” (144). These threads of family concern are interspersed among expressions of illness, fatigue, fear, anger, frustration, and worry. The majority of the migrant workers despair for the past, present, and future—a never-ending state of displacement in which they never truly “arrive.” However, in spite of this despair, and before the community consolidation when they huddle and talk, there is cohesive family love. These expressions of familial empathy are fundamental to “the people [who] were becoming people” (146).
The Effect of Migrant Lifestyle on the Family In “The Night the Lights Went Out,” Rivera portrays the toll that the migrant lifestyle takes on close relationships and future family solidarity. The narrative voice in the story counters this with a communal effort to interpret an empowered narrative, one that affirms chosen ideals. In this vignette, the migrant community experiences a tragedy from within—a young couple wants to marry, but they are constrained by the dislocation of migrant work and the desire for education. The narrative evolves into
Stance: Studies on the Family • 25 a tragic love story, rooted first in spatial separation and then in jealousy based on an assumption of infidelity. The young man kills himself by electrocution, shutting down the power to the whole community, a tragedy for both the couple and for the community. However, Rivera, through narrative technique, portrays a communal processing of this tragedy through internal commenting, a type of secondary narrative voice. This layered narrative facilitates community memory and supports selected ideals. Such ideals include love and potential for marriage. Rivera does this by first incorporating a main narrator and then interweaving anonymous commentary, evoking a sense of constructive gossip as it influences the processing of tragedy. For example, when introducing the lovers, someone pronounces, “that Ramón, he loved his girlfriend a lot. Yes, he loved her a lot. I know so because he was my friend” (124). This establishes the commentator’s status as an insider—an influential voice who can help interpret the story at a community level. The commentator continues, expanding on the premise of love: “And she loved him too but who knows what had happened this summer” (124). After Ramón electrocutes himself and shuts off the power, the commentators close the anecdote with the following conclusions: “They just loved each other so much, don’t you think?”(127). And the final answer: “No doubt,” presenting an interpretation of love that facilitates community consolidation. They could have blamed the suicide on the destructive effects of migrant life on relationships, or as the fault of the Anglos, or as a moral rupturing from within, or fate or God’s punishment. Rather, the narrator’s “gossip” functions to distill love from senseless tragedy, an interpretation that unites rather than fractures people. And, as presented in a separate “framing,” the people are desperate to have their stories told and interpreted (147). In both examples—“When they Arrive” and “The Night the Lights Went Out”—relationships consolidate through the idea of love. Scholarship on Rivera points toward community and family consolidation as a feature of empowerment. The textual examples present aspects of love (particularly in the family unit) and the need for a community narrative as a means of processing and retaining cohesive elements of cultural experience. This is Rivera’s counter-stance against oppression. Furthermore, this counter-stance transcends the literary realm. Domino Renee Perez, in a 2011 issue of American Literary History, declares Rivera’s work to
26 • Stance: Studies on the Family be an indication that “the will and the spirit of the people endure, across borders, across history, across time, para siempre” (446). Rivera himself states a temporal transcendence to his work: “I felt that I had to document the migrant worker forever so that their very strong spirit of endurance and will to go on under the worst of conditions should not be forgotten” (445–46). Thus . . . And the Earth buoys themes of family and community in a subaltern population, a theme that is not outdated, particularly in the contemporary socio-political climate of immigration debate.
Present Day Migrant Labor Issues Since the 1990s, US law has become increasingly stringent against immigration. Hagen, Eschbach and Rodriguez note that the mid-1990s marked a turning point, hinging with Clinton’s signatures on the Illegal Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act and the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, increasing criminal penalties for immigration violations and complicating the appeal process for those convicted of crimes. On the heels of these laws came a defensive posture to 9/11—the USA Patriot Act signed by George W. Bush, including the indefinite detentions of immigrants. These scholars clarify: “Collectively, these exclusionary laws represent a dramatic departure from post–WWII immigration policies, which had granted increasing rights to immigrants and their families” (64). Until 1990, deportations averaged about 20,000 a year drastically increasing to about 180,000 per year between 1996–2005. The numbers reached new heights in 2005, reaching 208,521 (66), with numbers continuing to escalate. Obama deported a record 2 million immigrants in a single term in office (Vicens). However, in November 2014, Obama asserted the following in his immigration reform plan: “if you’ve been in American more than five years. If you have children who are American citizens of illegal residents. If you register, pass a criminal background check and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes, you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation” (Forbes). However, the New York Times reports that on the eve of immigration reform, a Texas judge challenged the president’s initiatives, halting protection for millions of undocumented immigrants (19 February 2015). The immigrant Mexican family is especially at risk.
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Challenges for the Migrant Family Forbes reports that Mexicans would benefit the most from Obama’s immigration reform, followed by unauthorized immigrants from Central America. Hagen, Eschbach and Rodriguez assert that most deportees are from Mexico and that “deportation complicates the family separation process” as spouse and/or children may or may not be US citizens and their communities of origin may not be their “homes” (84). To further complicate the issue, immigrants may be shunned or have a difficult time integrating when returning to their communities of origin. This poses “dire social, economic, and psychological costs for deportees and their family members both in the United States and their communities of origin. Family separation, as a result of contemporary US enforcement policy, remains an ominous threat to immigrant families throughout the United States” (84). Current US immigration policy fails to recognize Mexican immigrants as members of families and communities, damaging cohesiveness in a people who are already marginalized. Family separation also causes physical and emotional stress to isolated individuals. De Haymes et al. help to define the need for family cohesiveness in their study on acculturation stress among Mexican migrants. In particular, they find that “individuals who have greater levels of family satisfaction have lower levels of acculturative stress,” but they do not find a similar correlation between social support and acculturative stress (422). These scholars define acculturative stress as “the emotional reaction triggered by the individual’s appraisal of specific events and circumstances in their lives” (406). This stress affects the migrants in areas of physical and psychological health, occupational functioning, entrapment in stereotypes, strained relationships with mental health professionals, lack of role models, and reduction in learning English. However, family cohesion helps migrants cope with these stresses (406). In Rivera’s . . . And the Earth, acculturation stress is especially apparent when the migrant and Anglo communities intersect—at school, in the barbershop, in the store, and in the fields when the boss is present. The family often serves to buffer this stress. The family as a coping mechanism can be explained through the concept of “familismo,” a central value in the Mexican culture, which promotes strong family bonds grounded in loyalty, emotional support, and physical care; this tends to be intergenerational (408). De Haymes et al. conclude with a political plea for “policy and programmatic interventions that increase social support and family cohesion among migrants” as a means
28 • Stance: Studies on the Family to offset acculturative stress (422). And yet, recent immigration policies have worked against the family. For example, the American Civil Liberties Union targets Arizona’s 2011 anti-immigrant law (S.B. 1070) as the key inspiration to anti-immigration approaches in other states, most notably Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Utah. Immigration debates continue while federal courts block some provisions and uphold others. In this era of legal instability fueled with anti-immigrant sentiment, comprehensive reform is needed that will prevent the racial profiling of Latinos and others presumed to be “foreigners” and the resultant separation of families. Several hopeful approaches, in defense of the migrant family, are worth noting. First, President Obama’s November 2014 immigration reform emphasizes the deportation of felons not families. Naturalization of undocumented immigrants may facilitate family unity; however, the political debate remains heated and many Republicans aim to counter this executive move. Another hopeful approach to immigration reform is found in “The Utah Compact,” a statement of compassionate principles that should underlie immigration legislation. The principles include an urging for federal solutions, an emphasis on criminal law (e.g., murderers or rapists) rather than civil violations; an acknowledgement of the economic contributions of immigrants; the need for a “spirit of inclusion” in a free society; and the importance of strong families. Concerning families, the compact states “strong families are the foundation of successful communities. We oppose policies that unnecessarily separate families. We champion policies that support families and improve the health, education and well-being of all Utah children.” The Utah Compact puts forth principles that resonate with the protection of the family structure.
Conclusion Rivera’s . . . And the Earth proclaims a nascent Chicano community, but it also presents a contemporary context that informs present-day immigration reform and promotes thinking about the importance of the family unit. This historical narrative is situated in local place and time, but, nevertheless, speaks across cultural and temporal borders. As a piece of borderlands literature, it portrays a multi-dimensional space of experience that continues to resist assimilation by the dominant culture,
Stance: Studies on the Family • 29 manifest in a resistance to policies that break up immigrant families and harm migrant communities. Family cohesiveness, one aspect of Rivera’s community empowerment, as a “real-world” strategy is threatened in the present-day immigration climate. Recent US policies have supported racial profiling and deportation without regard to the vulnerable nature of the family. Visa backlogs have protracted family separation; detentions and deportations have split family members; productive workers who have been in the country many years have been sent “home” without their spouses and children; children of undocumented immigrants, who have grown up in the US, risk deportation to a “home” that is nevertheless foreign. Family solidarity ought to be a public good and should underpin public policy debates surrounding immigration issues.
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Works Cited American Civil Liberties Union. “State Anti-Immigrant Laws.” ACLU N.p. n.d. Web. 10 April 2014. “Children’s Rights.” Gale Encyclopedia of Everyday Law. Ed. Donna Batten. 3rd ed. Vol. 1: American with Disabilities Act to First Amendment Law. Detroit: Gale, 2013. 169–174. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 18 Mar. 2014. De Haymes, Maria Vidal, Jessica Martone, Lina Moñoz, and Susan Grossman. “Family Cohesion and Social Support: Protective Factors for Acculturation Stress Among Low-Acculturated Mexican Migrants.” Journal of Poverty 15 (2011): 403–426. JSTOR. Web 18 Mar. 2014. Flannery, Nathaniel Parish. “Who Stands to Benefit From Obama’s Immigration Plan?” Forbes 24 Nov. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. Fredericksen, Brooke. “When We Arrive: The Paradox of Migration in Tomás Rivera’s ‘. . . y no se lo Trago la Tierra.’” Bilingual Review 19.2 (1994): 142–50. JSTOR. Web. 10 Mar. 2014. Hagan, Jacqueline, Karl Eschbach and Nestor Rodriguez. “U.S. Deportation Policy, Family Separation, and Circular Migration.” International Migration Review 42.1 (2008): 64–88. JSTOR. Web. 10 Mar. 2014. Hear, Michael D. and Adam Liptak. “White House Struggles on Immigration Ruling.” New York Times 18 Feb. 2015. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. Maki, Reid. “Children in the Fields: America’s Hidden Child Labor Problem.” The World of Child Labor: An Historical and Regional Survey. Ed. Hugh D. Hindman. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2009. 498–500. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 18 Mar. 2014. Medina, Jennifer. “California Farmers Short of Labor, and Patience.” New York Times 29 Mar.2014. Web. 29 Mar. 2014. Perez, Domino Renee. “Migrant Imaginaries and the Politics of Form.” American Literary History 23.2 (2011): 435–448. JSTOR. Web. 10 Mar. 2014.
Stance: Studies on the Family • 31 Rivera, Tomás. . . . And the Earth Did Not Devour Him. 1971. Trans. Evangelina Vigil-Piñón. Houston: Arte Publico Press, 1992. Rivera, Tomás. “Chicano Literatue: The Establishment of Community.” Bilingual Review 13.1/2 (1986): 22–27. JSTOR. Web. 10 Mar. 2014. Saldívar, Ramón. Chicano Narrative: The Dialectics of Difference. Madison: Un. of Wisconsin Press, 2007. Print. Skaggs, Rhonda. “Migrant Agricultural Workers.” Encyclopedia of Rural America: The Land and People. Ed. Gary A. Goreham. 2nd ed. Vol. 1. Millerton, NY: Grey House Publishing, 2008. 630–635. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 18 Mar. 2014. “The Utah Compact: A Declaration of Five Principles to Guide Utah’s Immigration Discussion.” The Utah Compact n.p. n.d. Web. 10 April 2014. Vallejos, Thomas. “Ritual Process and the Family in the Chicano Novel.” MELUS 10.4 (1983): 5–16. JSTOR. Web. 24 March 2014. Vicens, A.J. “The Obama Administration’s 2 Million Deportations, Explained.” Mother Jones 4 Apr 2014. Web. 10 Apr 2014.
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Maternal Sensitivity and Infant Attachment Brianna Fox
Abstract: This paper addresses the role of maternal sensitivity in the development of secure infant attachment. Maternal sensitivity covers a wide range of parental behaviors; this paper reviews more specific parental practices in light of the assertion that higher levels of maternal sensitivity and responsiveness foster secure attachments in infants. These specific parental practices include maintaining physical proximity, avoiding dismissive behaviors, and responding appropriately, promptly, and consistently to infant cues. Findings suggest that secure infant attachment improves when these parental practices are implemented.
ensitive and responsive caregiving promotes a child’s healthy physical and psychological development. According to attachment theory, maternal sensitivity—defined as the mother’s capacity to perceive the infant’s cues and to respond to the cues promptly and appropriately (Laranjo, Bernier, & Meins, 2008)—is a significant element in infant-caregiver interaction that fosters the development of an optimal, or “secure,” attachment between infants and their caregivers (Isabella & Belsky, 1991). This secure attachment is related to improved cognitive, social, and emotional development throughout childhood and early adolescence (Dunst & Kassow, 2008). However, certain researchers have shown that high levels of responsiveness—or responding too promptly—to infants can potentially reinforce negative crying behaviors (Higley & Dozier, 2009) or foster an insecure attachment (Van Ijzendoorn & Hubbard, 2000). The discrepancies in these findings leave parents wondering which parenting practices most effectively promote a secure attachment between them 33
34 • Stance: Studies on the Family and their infants. Each pattern of infant attachment (secure, anxious/ avoidant and anxious/resistant) is associated with a distinctive pattern of maternal care (Tracy & Ainsworth, 1981). This paper will describe the parenting practices that are associated with securely attached infants in order to assert that higher levels of maternal sensitivity and responsiveness promote greater secure attachment in infants.
Physical Proximity Secure attachment is characterized by feelings of desire to restore proximity and contact when the caregiver is absent (Van den Boom, 1994). When placed in frightening situations, infants display attachment behaviors such as crying, protesting separation, or clinging in order to gain proximity to caregivers (Higley & Dozier, 2009). Consequently, the attachment theory suggests that the adequate response to infants’ vocalized distress is providing closer proximity between the infant and caregiver. If infants experience caregivers being present and supportive under stressful circumstances, they will develop feelings of trust and secure attachment relationships (Van Ijzendoorn & Hubbard, 2000). Several studies support the assertion that infants favor close bodily contact with caregivers. Russell Tracy and Mary Ainsworth (1981) examined infant preferences to hugging versus kissing in order to analyze the extent of infants’ desires for close proximity. This study is outdated; however, Ainsworth’s studies and attachment theory continue to act as a foundation for current infant attachment research and several current articles support her initial research. Russell Tracy and Mary Ainsworth (1981) found that mothers of anxious/avoidant children emphasized kissing proportionally more and cuddling proportionally less than mothers of secure children. In addition, mothers of anxious/avoidant infants displayed affectionate behavior with more frequency than mothers of secure infants; however, their aversion to close bodily contact fostered avoidance in their infants. Tracy and Ainsworth concluded that avoidant infants desire close bodily contact when distressed, but due to painful or disappointing experiences with their contact-averse mothers, these infants suppress their desires for contact. These findings suggest that hugging and cuddling a distressed infant is more reassuring than kissing or merely stroking the infant. The absence of
Stance: Studies on the Family • 35 bodily contact and other maternal behaviors that require close proximity to the caregiver can be detrimental to secure attachment formation.
Infant Cues A crucial aspect of maternal sensitivity is that the mother’s responses be “appropriate to the infant’s cues, therefore implying a certain degree of interpretation on the mother’s part” (Laranjo et al., 2008, p. 689). A sensitive mother is able to perceive and correctly interpret her infant’s cues; this suggests that mothers must recognize that infants have their own desires, thoughts, and intentions (Laranjo et al., 2008). Ainsworth theorized that the mother’s consistent perceptions, correct interpretations, and appropriate responses to her infant’s signals will nurture the development of secure attachments. Insecure attachments, on the other hand, seem to develop as a result of a “mother’s inconsistent or negligent perception, interpretation, and response to her infant’s signals” (Isabella & Belsky, 1991, p. 373). Further research affirms Ainsworth’s theory; studies suggest that mothers of securely attached infants notice their babies’ signals, effectively use these signals to guide behaviors, and understand and enjoy their infants (Pederson et al., 1990). In other words, mothers who understand their infants’ signals and respond accordingly to their babies’ specific needs nurture secure attachment in their infants. To explore these implications of appropriate response, Dymphna van den Boom (1994) conducted an intervention study to promote secure attachments by improving the mother’s ability to monitor infant signals effectively, perceive them accurately, and respond to them appropriately. Her large sample size (100 mother-child pairs) and minimizing of confounding variables contributes to the reliability and validity of her research. The large sample size minimizes the possibility for error in statistical analysis, which increases the accuracy of the data. Her sample accounts for the mother’s marital status, socio-economic status, race, and physical health of the infant. Controlling for potential confounding variables strengthens the assumption that maternal responsiveness, rather than various outside factors, correlates to attachment. For her study, Van den Boom selected mothers of irritable six-month-old infants and randomly assigned them into control and intervention groups. Mothers in the intervention group were coached to perceive infant signals
36 • Stance: Studies on the Family through increasing levels of maternal attentiveness, interpret the signals correctly, select an appropriate response, and implement the response effectively. She found that intervention infants were more sociable, better able to soothe themselves, and more engaged in “cognitively sophisticated kinds of exploration than control infants” (p. 1459).These factors indicate a secure attachment relationship.
Patterns of Maternal Responsiveness Past studies support the assertion that higher levels of maternal responsiveness and positive emotion are related to secure attachments in infants. Marinus H. Van Ijzendoorn and Frans O.A. Hubbard (2000), after studying the effects of maternal responsiveness on infant attachment for a year, found that mothers who had babies with insecure or avoidant attachments were less responsive and more dismissive of emotions. Van den Boom’s intervention study (1994) suggests that enhancing maternal responsiveness seems to enhance the infant’s sense of security. Other research proposes that maternal responsiveness patterns positively associated with securely attached infants include more responsiveness to infants’ distress and verbal signals, higher levels of affectionate contact, more tenderness, appropriate pacing of face-to-face interactions, more positive expressions of affection, and little interference with infants’ ongoing behaviors. Insecure or resistant relationships, on the other hand, originate from depressed levels of maternal responsiveness and involvement (Isabella & Belsky, 1991). A study conducted by Philip Smith and David Pederson (1988) also sheds light on maternal responsive behaviors related to different attachment groups. The researchers provided the mothers with a questionnaire while assessing their infants’ attachment through Mary Ainsworth’s Strange Situation, a procedure used to observe an infant’s response to separation and reunion with the parent. They found that mothers of securely attached children put the questionnaire aside in order to soothe their distressed child and affirm their availability. In contrast, mothers of anxious/resistant infants, though aware of their infants’ distress, made no efforts to soothe their distressed babies. They made the completion of the questionnaire a priority over soothing their frightened infants. This study suggests that mothers foster secure attachments in their children by responding to their child’s calls of distress, soothing them, and indicating availability to them in stressful situations.
Stance: Studies on the Family • 37 However, researchers have asserted that although high levels of responsiveness may be beneficial and essential to infant development, parents should not feel pressured to adopt a guideline that involves reaching maximum responsiveness. Maximum levels of responsiveness may be achieved in a low-stress and distraction-free laboratory setting, but mother-infant interactions in natural settings present a different picture (Van den Boom, 1994). Appropriate maternal responsiveness behaviors vary across infants and contexts. Mothers should take contextual factors into account when determining the appropriate level of responsiveness. The level of infant distress is a contextual factor mothers should consider as they determine the appropriateness of their response. Esther M. Leerkes (2011) asserts that maternal response to infants during times of distress or threat may be the leading predictor of attachment security. This assertion is supported by her research regarding the sensitivity of maternal response in both distressing and non-distressing contexts. Sensitivity during the distressing contexts, but not during the non-distressing contexts (a free-play task), was linked with subsequent attachment. She asserts that mothers may promote avoidant attachment by acting sensitively in non-distressing contexts but insensitively in distressing contexts. She concludes with the assertion that sensitive maternal behavior during distressing contexts is a stronger predictor of attachment security than sensitivity during a non-arousing free-play task. Mothers should bear in mind that their behavior toward their infants during times of distress may have greater effect on subsequent attachment security than their behavior toward their infants in non-distressing contexts.
Response Promptness/Frequency Though attachment theory proposes that prompt responsiveness to infant distress fosters secure infant attachment, further research suggests otherwise. The accurate perception of infant signals, and the appropriate response to them is a better predictor of attachment than promptness or frequency of the mother’s responses (Higley & Dozier, 2009). Furthermore, Ijzendoorn’s and Hubbard’s research (2000), which assessed the impact of responsive mothers on infant attachment at one year, found that mothers of avoidant infants are more prompt in responding to their infants’ crying than mothers of secure infants. Van Ijzendoorn and Hubbard provide several implications from the findings of this study. First they suggest that,
38 • Stance: Studies on the Family although prompt responsiveness is appropriate for severe distress vocalizations, these constitute only a minor part of all crying behavior, and mild distress vocalizations may require a slower response due to the possibility of reinforcing this unwanted crying behavior. Second, dismissive mothers—in theory—are less able to deal with their children’s negative emotions; responding promptly to crying behavior may be their strategy to control the expression of negative emotion and may unintentionally help increase crying behavior because the child is not allowed to exercise emerging abilities for emotional self-regulation. Prompt responsiveness to mild distress vocalizations may “prevent the infant from coping with the mild distress itself ” (p. 388). Third, mothers of avoidant infants who respond too promptly may be over-stimulating their babies; avoidance is “hypothesized to be the infants’ strategy to deal with overwhelming and somewhat excessive stimulation from the mother” (p. 386). Further research has supported the assertion that maternal intrusiveness and overstimulation are directly related to avoidant infant attachments (Isabella & Belsky, 1991).
Elizabeth Higley and Mary Dozier (2009) found that maternal consistency is related to infant attachment security. They analyzed the impact of nighttime mother-infant interactions on infant attachment security. Instead of relying on maternal reports, they used new digital video technology to capture naturalistic mother-infant interactions. Observing infants with minimal distraction in a naturalistic setting attributed to the accuracy of the data—a laboratory setting would have decreased the external validity of the results. Higley and Dozier found that mothers of securely and insecurely attached infants do not differ in terms of how frequently they respond to their infants; rather, when they respond, mothers of securely attached infants are more likely to respond sensitively and consistently. Further research conducted by Russel Isabella and Jay Belsky (1991) suggests that insecure infants are characterized by extremes of over or under-involvement and inconsistency in maternal interactional behavior. Such inconsistency can potentially lead the infant to feelings of frustration over the inability to connect with the caregiver, who is unavailable when the infant desires interaction, then seeks interaction when the infant is not interested. It is theorized that resistance possibly
Stance: Studies on the Family • 39 reflects an infant strategy to evoke consistent and predictable responses from the caregiver. Infant security, on the other hand, is fostered by sensitive maternal interactions that are influenced by the infant’s cues and behaviors; these interactions provide the infant with interactive stimulation and predictability.
Final Discussion Research regarding the relationship between maternal sensitivity and infant attachment provides a framework for parents to follow as they strive to foster optimal secure attachment in their infants. Though causal statements require more scientific evidence, current literature strongly implies that maternal sensitivity is a key proponent of healthy psychological development and a requirement for the development of a healthy, secure attachment in an infant. More specifically, parents who desire to foster secure attachments in their infants should highly consider parental behaviors such as maintaining close proximity and bodily contact with their infants, responding appropriately to infant needs and cues, responding with more tenderness, and consistently demonstrating sensitivity. In light of past and present research, higher levels of maternal warmth, attentiveness, responsiveness, and sensitivity promote greater attachment security in infants.
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Works Cited Dunst, C.J. & Kassow, D.Z. (2008). “Caregiver sensitivity, contingent social responsiveness, and secure infant attachment.” Journal of Early and Intensive Behavior Intervention, 5(1), 40–56. Higley, E. & Dozier, M. (2009). “Nighttime maternal responsiveness and infant attachment at one year.” Attachment and Human Development, 11(4), 347–363. Isabella, R.A. & Belsky, J. (1991). “Interactional synchrony and the origins of infant-mother attachment: a replication study.” Child Development, 62(2), 373–384. Laranjoa, J., Berniera, A., & Meinsb, E. (2008). “Associations between maternal mind-mindedness and infant attachment security: investigating the mediating role of maternal sensitivity.” Infant Behavior and Development, 31, 688–695. Leerkes, E.M. (2011). “Maternal sensitivity during distressing tasks: a unique predictor of attachment security.” Infant Behavior and Development, 34, 443–446. Smith, P.B., Pederson, D.R. (1988). “Maternal sensitivity and patterns of infant-mother attachment.” Child Development, 59, 1097–1001. Tracy, R.L., & Ainsworth, M.D.S. (1981). “Maternal affectionate behavior and infant-mother attachment patterns.” Child Development, 52(4), 1341–1343. Pederson, D.R., Moran, G., Sitko, C., Campbell, K., Ghesquire, K., and Acton, H. (1990). “Maternal sensitivity and security of infant-mother attachment: a Q-sort study.” Child Development, 61(6), 1974–1983. Van den Boom, D.C. (1994). “Erratum: the influence of temperament and mothering on attachment and exploration: an experimental manipulation of sensitive responsiveness among lower-class mothers with irritable infants.” Child Development, 65(5), 1457–1477. Van Ijzendoorn, M.H. & Hubbard, F.O.A. (2000). “Are infant crying and maternal responsiveness during the first year related to infant-mother
Stance: Studies on the Family • 41 attachment at 15 months?” Attachment & Human Development, 2(3), 371–391.
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Gender and the Division of Household Labor Wes Jeffrey
n recent decades, the changing ideals regarding gender equality in society have challenged the historical role women have carried as the homemaker. Is this historical trend a result of biological tendencies, the effect of an efficient manner with which to divide up housework, or social norms prescribing gender roles? These and other questions are answered to a certain degree by various academic disciplines: sociology, social psychology, evolutionary psychology, and economics. Each discipline attempts to explain this social phenomenon, however, each is grounded on different assumptions. Nevertheless, even with differing assumptions, most research suggests that women tend to continually do the majority of housework. Throughout this paper we will rely on theories from each of the disciplines specified above to see why it has occurred. Emphasis will be given to the division of housework as it pertains to heterosexual married couples. Additionally, household labor or housework is defined as activities pertaining to, but not limited to: cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry, paying bills, caring for children, as well as repairs around the house, automotive related tasks, mowing the lawn, and taking out the trash. We will conclude with a discussion concerning these theories about the division of housework, and offer direction for possible future research.
44 • Stance: Studies on the Family Research conducted on this topic shows that in general, women do the majority of the housework. Since information from the public regarding this topic is difficult to collect, most researchers have relied on studies that require participants to record time spent on housework in journals for a specified period of time. Studies such as these, however, run the risk of not gathering representative data. If for instance, the couple has unusual tasks to complete during the experiment, or if solely for purposes of the experiment the participants change their normal habits, then the data will be inaccurate. Beth Shelton and Daphne John (1996) conclude that men carry out between 20% and 35% of the housework. In addition Jean Atkinson and Ted Huston (1984) find that women do twice as much housework as men. However other studies declare that wives claim to complete two-thirds to three-quarters of the housework, while the husbands at the same time report performing 40% to 45% (Willigen, Marieke and Drentea 2001). Thus, as this last finding shows, the amount of housework we report may be a subjective perception; the percentage combined between the man and woman cannot logically add to more than 100%. It may be that people feel they are doing more than they actually are. Lastly, a study done in the United States found that women perform an average of 58% of the housework per week while men only perform 42% (Bittman, Michael et al. 2003). Although many factors may alter the extent or size of this disparity, on average, the consensus amongst the research collected seems to point to the fact that women do a larger portion of the housework.
Evolutionary Psychological Analysis Evolutionary psychology explains that the unequal division of housework is due to biological and genetic differences between men and women that predispose certain traits vital for survival. Some argue that women have a maternal instinct and this causes them to put children before careers. By choosing to be mothers first, they are helping to perpetuate the survival of the species (Lorber and Moore 2011). Similar logic explains why men, who as the primitive hunter of the family, are biologically predisposed to want to provide for and protect the family and thus put a career as a priority over household labor. Additional research, pursued by a scientist named Udry, looked at hormonal differences between men and women and the eventual gendered selves they acquired. In The Gendered Person, Udry’s research is cited and states that “the woman’s level of exposure to
Stance: Studies on the Family • 45 prenatal androgens” corresponded with her expressed gendered adult behavior (Warton 2005). In other words, differences in the behavior that females and males exhibit as adults are partially a product of gendered hormonal differences. This evolutionary view to gender and how it relates to the division of housework, is also argued by the essentialist perspective of gender. This theory states that women choose to take care of their children and do the majority of housework because it is a characteristic that is innate and unchanging in females (Hollander, Jocelyn, Renfrow, and Howard 2011). Because women bear the children, it is natural for them to want to take care of the offspring. Doing the chores related to the care of the family may logically extend from the essentialist perspective. Many people, however, are reluctant to agree that this gendered difference in housework is a natural byproduct of our genetic makeup. For if this acted out behavior is all innate, then the unequal division of labor is inevitable. Sociology, in contrast, argues that the environmental influences are what lead to the behavioral expression of these biological predispositions. Furthermore, changes in the past few decades to the amount and type of housework done by men and women evidence the fact that this division is not unchangeable or fixed (Willigen, Marieke, and Drentea 2001). Thus, if the amount and type of housework men and women perform can change, then the essentialist perspective is not fully capturing all of the complexity to this social phenomenon.
Economic Analysis While evolutionary psychologists will argue that the differences are merely natural, economists will argue that the division of housework is a direct result of creating efficiency in both the market and home. Within the economic framework, many explanations for the division of household labor utilize the principle of specialization. According to economic theory, society is better off as a whole as people specialize and exchange. When people choose to specialize and exchange, they develop increased competency in a specific area; the result is that all who are involved in this exchange market benefit from one another’s choice to specialize. If everyone had to produce everything from scratch, then we would not see the dramatic improvements in technology and society that we see today. For example, think of how much time and effort it would require to make clothing. You would have to find the raw materials, make your own tools, use the tools to change the raw materials to a finished product, and then repeat this whenever you grew out
46â€ƒ â€˘â€ƒ Stance: Studies on the Family of the clothing, or whenever your clothes or tools wore out. This process is both time and energy inefficient for individuals and society. Specialization has led to our present circumstances where if we want or need clothing, all we have to do is go to a clothing store. These general economic principles regarding the advantages of specialization, also hold for the gender division of housework in society, assuming optimal efficiency is desirable. A principle theory underlying the economic response to the division of household labor is what is known as the human capital theory. Leslie Stratton (2003) summarizes what the human capital theory suggests when she explains that just as in the market, in order to maximize the utility in the home, each member will choose to specialize in that which they have a comparative advantage. Comparative advantage, however, could be whoever is objectively capable of earning more outside the home or just subjectively perceived to be able to do so. Thus, human capital theory would help to explain why we see that men are more likely than women to participate in the paid labor force (Reskin and Bielby 2005). In recent years the wage gap between genders has been declining, but historically men have always had the comparative advantage in the market based on earning prospects (Bobbitt-Zeher 2007). Studies done in the United Nations point out that as the gender wage gap shrinks, the division of household labor becomes more equal (Ruppanner 2009). This theory also points out that if men have the comparative advantage in the market, and thus work more hours outside the home, they are less likely to devote as many hours to housework. Another common economic explanation for the gendered division of housework involves what is known as the bargaining theory. This theory suggests that the bargaining power of each spouse is related to his or her own next best alternative (Stratton 2003). In essence, this theory posits that our options outside of the marriage relationship will determine our bargaining power within the home. This idea is also known as the relative resource theory, which explains that whichever partner has the most resources can leverage out of doing the household chores (Shelton 1996). This theory assumes that doing household chores is something undesirable. Since men have primarily held the power position in marriage relationships, they have been able to negotiate doing a smaller share of housework. Thus, women have historically had to do more housework since the men have been the primary breadwinners, and without the husband to bring in income, financial distress would ensue. This bargaining power
Stance: Studies on the Family • 47 could be an explicit conversation or it could just be an implicit idea agreed upon within the couple. For example, women might perceive they have a responsibility to do more housework seeing the time availability of the husband. If the husband is working a lot, then there will inevitably be less time for him to do the housework. This is known as the time availability theory (Shelton 1996). These theories do not explain everything however. As Stratton points out, even when women earn more than 50% of the household income, they still do a majority of the housework. Likewise, other research shows that no matter what the women’s paid work time is she still does a majority of the housework, although paid work hours are negatively associated with housework time (Shelton 1996). Thus, economic explanations that rely on factors of time and resources alone do not fully resolve why women still do the majority of the housework. Others, however, will point out that this allocation of time to housework is flexible and does change depending on the work hours between spouses. The adaptive partnership theory explains that when women choose to work more hours outside the home, men will take responsibility for and do more of the housework (Atkinson 1984). This increase in the amount of housework done by males, though, may only be significant in comparison with the general male population, not with the average of what women normally do.
Both the biological and economic explanations make good sense, but as has already been shown, neither of them alone can explain all of the phenomena surrounding this disproportionate division of household labor. Sociology and social psychology add vital understanding to this puzzle by explaining that the underlying ideals of society shape the allocation of housework. The sociological principle of gender roles refers to the prescribed way men and women ought to behave as dictated by societal norms (Willigen, Marieke, and Drentea 2001). This would help to explain why women tend to do more housework than men, for cooking, cleaning, and caring for children are viewed stereotypically as primarily feminine activities (Atkinson 1984). As West and Zimmerman point out, because society holds men and women accountable for how they behave, women are able to “do” their gender or fulfill their roles as females in society, as they take part in these responsibilities (West, Candace, and Zimmerman 1987). Research suggests that in order to make cognitive sense of the
48 • Stance: Studies on the Family world, individuals behave in ways that they can explain to others. This leads them to follow gender expectations (Bittman et al. 2003). Social learning theory explains that gender roles are learned through positive and negative reinforcements during development as they behave in gender-appropriate and gender-inappropriate ways (Wharton 2005). As mothers teach girls that they should be the ones to cook and to clean, and focus on training them to do these responsibilities, enacting this role later on for daughters becomes more natural. Likewise, as boys are taught, primarily by their fathers, how to mow the lawn and take out the trash, they too learn what their role as a man should be. Thus, children learn gender-appropriate behavior by observing and imitating the behavior of their parents as predicted by the modeling hypothesis (Cunningham 2001). Additionally, according to the social feminist perspective, patriarchy is the cause of the unequal division of household labor. An unequal division as we see today, directly benefits men for they are the ones who are able to maintain their position of authority and control over women (Shelton 1996). Thus, as men and women are socialized into their gender roles, men grow to expect this position of power, and the cycle of unequal division of labor continues. However, there is still disagreement empirically as to how much predictive power the behavior and ideology of parents, with respect to the division of household labor, has on the behavior and ideology children exhibit later in life. Some contest that it is the socialrelational context that predicts the way men and women will behave, not the childhood socialization that has taken place. Mick Cunningham argues, however, that it is a combination of both socialization and socialrelational context. He says that children learn a set of “gender-symbolic meanings for behaviors” from their parents, which act as the heuristics men and women use when in similar situations (Cunningham 2001). Thus, children learn from their parents how men and women should act in a general sense and then they use that knowledge to adapt to particular circumstances in the future. Not all people in society believe that there should be this unequal division of housework. But what leads to a more equal division of housework? Differences in gender role ideology may help to explain why some couples exhibit a more equal division. As both men and women embody a more egalitarian gender role ideology, the division of household labor tends to be more equally divided. In contrast, those that agree with and practice a more traditional view of gender role ideology tend to have women do the
Stance: Studies on the Family • 49 majority of housework (Shelton 1996). In accordance with this traditional view, men find that they are able to portray their masculinity by performing what are called “manhood acts.” Some argue that these manhood acts are aimed at claiming privilege, eliciting deference, and resisting exploitation (Schrock and Schwalbe 2009). They go on to state that men don’t always directly elicit compliance from females when they are negotiating the division of housework, but that gender inequality created through manhood acts in the workplace can cause a shift in the decision-making power and work distribution within the home (Schrock and Schwalbe 2009). Thus, in accordance with the economic bargaining theory, as men attempt to embrace the masculine ideal through their advancements in the workplace, they are able to gain more control in the home as well. This also coincides with the sociological perspective of “doing gender,” which states that men and women are able to accomplish their societally prescribed gender roles by acting in accordance with what is considered masculine or feminine (West, Candace, and Zimmerman 1987). So women choose to do more cooking and cleaning to satisfy the expectations society will hold them accountable for. Likewise, men act out their gender role expectations by taking out the trash and doing the car repairs because these are seen as masculine acts. Research shows that psychologically how we view our competence in doing certain tasks correlates with what is perceived as masculine or feminine. For example, studies show that men and women feel more competent in doing what is considered more masculine or feminine, respectively. However, if men feel more competent doing what is normally perceived as feminine acts, such as cooking and cleaning, they are more likely to do it. This helps explain why women spend more time overall on housework-cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the children are tasks that need to be done regularly. The chores men primarily feel competent at, car and house repairs, trash removal, lawn mowing etc., usually do not need to be done as often (Atkinson 1984). Other sociological explanations for the gendered division of housework involve institutional-level factors that shape societal norms. These factors may result from societal changes in education, politics, or business. Leah Ruppanner (2009) finds that women’s presence in politics, as well as other factors such as number of women professionals and female-male wage gap, all contribute to the division of household labor in that society. The measure that they used, called the Gender Empowerment Measure or GEM, reflected the overall national ideals regarding gender equality and
50 • Stance: Studies on the Family was positively correlated with a more equal division of household labor. Ruppanner states, “Women’s increased labor market status, especially in terms of earnings, facilitate a more equal division of housework in the home” (2009: 970). This also corresponds to the idea presented earlier regarding the relative resource theory to the division of housework. When women hold more economic and political power, there is less of a resource or bargaining power advantage of men over women. This seems to be a way in which the economic and sociological findings interact. As women’s position and power in society increase, the mindset and gender ideals of society become more egalitarian in nature. These institutional-level factors inhibit or promote future possibilities in the minds of men and women as they age. Women who see that other women are successful in business or politics, as well as scientific or technological careers, will perceive their own potential more positively. Once again, as opportunities for women expand outside the home, men’s dominance and power within the home diminish; thus a more equal division of housework results.
What should future research dealing with the unequal division of household labor aim to achieve? If we look at the fundamental reasoning behind why social action toward gender equality is even a goal, we see that it ideally seeks to promote satisfaction, especially for those who are disadvantaged. If everyone was completely satisfied with the present gendered situation, there would be no need for change. But does the unequal division of labor inevitably lead to dissatisfaction? Thompson argues that women view the division of labor as unfair only if they want their husband to do more; this could result from comparing their husband’s housework time with someone who does more or if they don’t see any justification for the current division (Shelton 1996). Thus, inequality in and of itself does not lead to dissatisfaction, or a sense of unfairness—it is all about the perception the individual has. Looking forward, research should aim to promote the greatest good for society. This could necessitate cross-national comparisons of “societal happiness or well-being” in order to understand what variables lead to the greatest satisfaction for a society. If we took an analysis of the current well-being of the United States, we would certainly notice that young adults today are three times more likely than their grandparents to suffer depression—despite their grandparents’ experiencing a lower standard of
Stance: Studies on the Familyâ€ƒ â€˘â€ƒ 51 living and greater hardship (Myers 2013). Thus, even though the standard of living in society is improving, as well as gender equality as a whole, the psychological well-being of society may be declining. Future research needs to look longitudinally, with an emphasis at changes historically, at the relationship between gender equality, as it relates to the division of housework, and overall societal well-being. This well-being indicator may come from country-wide measures of such things as marital satisfaction, divorce rates, child delinquency, crime rates, depression rates, etc. It would come as a difficult tradeoff to accept that if by continuing to aim at gender equality in terms of household division of labor, we sacrifice the health and well-being of our society and its members.
In conclusion, whether looking at the division of household labor between men and women through the scope of evolutionary psychology, economics, or sociology, the finding is that women in general spend more time on and do a larger portion of the housework. As was discussed, no theory alone can explain all of the complexity surrounding this social phenomena, but by looking at what each field has to offer, one can get a more complete understanding. Realizing that there is an unequal division of housework between men and women is the first step to bringing about positive change. The next question social science needs to ask is: what is the next best step for society to take, recognizing that there is this inequality.
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References Atkinson, J. & T. Huston. (1984). “Sex Role Orientation and Division of Labor Early in Marriage.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46(2), 330–345. Bittman, M., P. England, & N. Folbre. (2003). “When Does Gender Trump Money? Bargaining and Time in Household Work.” American Journal of Sociology, 109(1), 186–214. (Retrieved from JSTOR on April 7, 2014.) Bobbitt-Zeher, D. (2007). “The Gender Income Gap and the Role of Education.” Sociology of Education, 80, 1–22. Cunningham, M.(2001). “Parental Influences on the Gendered Division of Housework.” American Sociological Review, 66, 184–187. (Retrieved from JSTOR on April 11, 2014.) Hollander, J. A., D. G. Renfrow, & J. A. Howard. (2011). Gendered Situations, Gendered Selves (2nd ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. Lorber, J. & L. J. Moore. (2011). Gendered Bodies: Feminist Perspectives (pp. 9–33). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Myers, D. (2013). Social Psychology (11th ed.). New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Reskin, B.F. & D. Bielby. (2005). “A Sociological Perspective on Gender and Career Outcomes.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 19(1), 71–86. Ruppanner, L. (2009). “Cross-national reports of housework: An investigation of the gender empowerment measure.” Social Science Research, 963–974. Shelton, B. & D. John. (1996). “The Division of Household Labor.” Annual Reviews in Sociology, 299–317. Schrock, D. &M. Schwalbe. (2009). “Men, Masculinity, and Manhood Acts.” Annual Review of Sociology, 35, 277–295.
Stance: Studies on the Family • 53 Stratton, L. (2003). “Gains from Trade and Specialization: The Division of Work in Married Couple Households.” In K. S. Moe (Ed.), Women, Family, and Work. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 65–83. West, C. & D. H. Zimmerman. (1987). “Doing Gender.” Gender and Society 1(2): 125–151. Wharton, A.S. (2005). The Sociology of Gender: An Introduction to Theory and Research. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. 17–40. Willigen, M. & P. Drentea. (2001). “Benefits of Equitable Relationships: The Impact of Sense of Fairness, Household Division of Labor, and Decision Making Power on Perceived Social Support.” Sex Roles, 44 (9/10), 571–597.
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Minimizing the Effects of Poverty:
Changing Impoverished Children’s Futures Through Family Relationships
Rebecca McKinnon Tanner
n the 1930s, the entire world was affected by an economic downfall: the Great Depression. This shattering event devastated citizens: abandonment in marriages abounded, crime increased, educational enrollment shrank, suicide rates rose, and poverty flourished. Because of this economic downfall, the rates of poverty increased so dramatically that they are still considered one of the most disastrous economic times in history. Although high poverty rates commonly accompany economic disaster, the aftermath and results have been more devastating than imagined. When another, smaller scale economic collapse occurred in 2008, the recovered poverty rates from the Great Depression rose again and have continue to increase today (Abramsky). So poverty rates now are not decreasing as they should—rates are not even decreasing as they did after the devastating Great Depression. The rates are still too high. According to a recent article in The Nation discussing the statistics of poverty in America, fifteen percent of Americans were living “in or below the government-defined poverty line,” even greater than the end of President Clinton’s office when the rates of poverty had become substantial and unemployment almost reached historic lows (Abramsky). This shocking statistic brings an awareness of the significant effect of poverty currently in the world. Poverty can be defined as an individual whose income is less 55
56 • Stance: Studies on the Family than 40% to 50% of the countries median income (Duncan). But there is no clear-cut, definite solution to eliminate poverty—this task may not be considered feasible. Unexpected, lingering high poverty rates create a predicament affecting the well being of the economy, government, health, family, education, daily life, and the lives and futures of children. Because all of these factors become adversely influenced by poverty, it is important to find sources able to minimize these damaging effects. Impoverished children are affected in unseen ways, which may be difficult to understand due to an unawareness of the statistics of poverty. However, this dangerous unawareness can lead to inconsiderate actions. Bettering our thoughts and actions starts with an awareness of how impoverished children are affected. One aspect not commonly known about poverty is found through the US Census Bureau. They performed a study from 1990 to 2011, in which they found that the average percentage of impoverished children ranges from eighteen percent to twenty-two percent (Duncan). This high percentage of impoverished children is notable because it suggests that while education is an influential factor, it is not a simple cure for poverty, as is commonly thought. Other components to be discussed, added with education, can help reduce poverty. Even with educational based programs to limit the effects of poverty, rates have not decreased as expected. It has been shown that as poor children start school behind the average academic ability, they remain at a lower academic level than their peers throughout their education. This result displays that impoverished children not only have a disadvantage in education but also in life-preparing skills. They are set up to remain in the cycle of poverty as they grow older. For this reason, programs and agencies should identify a more reliable source, not hinging on education as the main solution. Family Matters further solidifies this idea as they discuss how impoverished children perform below average in mathematics, reading, and behavior, “complete less schooling, work and earn less, and are less healthy” (Duncan). Awareness of the delays of educational, behavioral, and physical aspects found in the lives of impoverished children creates an understanding from where a solution can be found to release children from poverty.
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The Disadvantages: Cognitive, Developmental, and Behavioral Poverty creates a disadvantage of cognitive ability. The resulting disadvantages are explained in ASCD’s Educational Leadership’s (a global association working for the success of every child) article, “HOW Poverty Affects Classroom Engagement.” In this article, many of the discussed cognitive problems are those found more common in impoverished children, such as “short attention spans, high levels of distractibility, difficulty monitoring the quality of their work, and difficulty generating new solutions to problems” ( Jensen). These cognitive delays force impoverished children work in a more difficult environment, decreasing their ability to learn. Poverty is more likely with a lack of education—this helps to ensure lower paid jobs or unemployment. This restriction of proper education limits their chance to escape the cycle of poverty. The developmental delay of children in poverty is an unseen problem that is affecting society more than realized. Negative results are found throughout studies of the children’s brains. During research on the development of children’s brains, according to diversity of economic standing, significant varying differences were found: impoverished children’s brains do not develop as fully or easily as children in higher socioeconomic standing families. In addition to these developmental delays, researchers found behavioral problems in the study using MRI scans to detect developmental measures (Hanson). This knowledge displays that impoverished children are underprivileged because they are not able to compete with children of higher socioeconomic standing in intellect or behavior. It has been established in Educational Leadership that “many children who struggle cognitively either act out (exhibit problem behavior) or shut down (show learned helplessness)” ( Jensen). Discovering these harmful cognitive and behavioral consequences necessitates a solution for the minimization of the effects poverty has upon children. Otherwise, impoverished children will continue as a disadvantaged population that will develop as a dependent group. This dependence on society, caused by developmental delays and behavioral problems of the impoverished, will only further the unfavorable reactions of the economy that supplement poverty.
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The Cycle Can Stop The cycle of poverty does not have to continue—what if there was a way in which to secure a pathway to advance to the average level, in order for full development and education to be attained? Targeting this solution through research, government, and education would undoubtedly create a greater chance of removing impoverished children from the cycle of poverty, thus limiting the effects and scope of poverty in the United States. Society believes that poverty occurs as a result of either the behavior of the impoverished people or from economic conditions. The behavior forms “the culture of poverty theory” (“Poverty”). This theory, accepted in the mid-1900s, explains why poverty exists and its attributed characteristics. During a research study on Finnish poverty, researchers learned that economic circumstances, socio-demographic characteristics, and attitudes toward the welfare state were all partially related as reasons for poverty (Niemelä). Others tend to think that bad luck and a lack of opportunity drives poverty as well (Niemelä). Contributing traits of poverty are found within the boundaries of the family. When a family is unorganized, their chaotic behavior changes their economic condition. This economic condition is displayed through the “situational theory” (“Poverty”). The “situational theory” does not focus on the characteristics of a person leading them to poverty but on the idea of socioeconomics. Socioeconomics suggests the cycle of poverty is defined as the following: when children grow up in an impoverished home, they are more likely to continue in the pattern of their parents and live in poverty themselves. Their futures are limited because “children living in such an environment have little exposure to the job market, and, as a result, they grow up ill-prepared to take advantage of economic opportunities that may arise” (“Poverty”). In order to break the poverty cycle, society should focus on the center of both of these theories—the family.
The Focus on the Family Historically, poverty-minimizing programs have not focused on the family, although these programs have nevertheless made an impact on poverty rates in the United States. One example of an effective poverty-minimizing program was the “New Deal,” proposed by Franklin D. Roosevelt in a successful attempt to restore the economy. In order to do so, he presented
Stance: Studies on the Family • 59 his program to decrease the rate of poverty resulting from the Great Depression. As stated before, the restoration of poverty rates was more successful at this time than during the aftermath of the economic crash of 2008. Many other religious groups or non-profit organizations have also contributed to reducing poverty rates. For example, the Red Cross is a humanitarian organization that seeks to help those in need. While government agency programs (focused monetarily as well as individually), religious groups, welfare programs, and non-profit organizations aid those in poverty, it is my proposal to direct the problem of poverty to the family. Targeting the family is the needed method to reduce poverty in the United States, especially the study of the parent-child relationship due to the effect it has on a child’s development. The parent-child relationship is the legal term for the hierarchal form of a parent over a child that is not dependent on a marital status; it is the bond of closeness between a child and parent. Factors that can help this relationship consist of socioeconomic status, work hours of parents, education of parents and child, interaction levels, and communication. These factors all link together to help determine the success of a child’s future as they create unique environments in the family setting to foster or discourage development. Therefore, the family is the fundamental basis for children’s success.
Education for All and Millennium Developmental Goals While aiming for successful futures for children in poverty, there are currently two accepted theories to minimizing the effects of poverty in the United States. These US programs are known as Education For All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDG), though other social welfare services and programs designed to defend families from poverty are also present (Lein). Millennium Developmental Goals is socially seen to hold a better perspective than Education For All, as it includes the entire developmental context as a whole (Nordtveit). Millennium Developmental Goals is a program with eight main goals for international development in order to limit poverty. Education For All is a similar program, with the common goal of limiting poverty. However, the main goal of EFA is to meet the educational needs of students by the year 2015. Though both of these programs establish much good and aid towards impoverished citizens, it has been discovered that “experience and educational achievement is
60 • Stance: Studies on the Family negatively related with the poverty incidence in both years. Also as we go for the higher levels of education the chances of a person being non-poor increases” (Awan). Although these programs aim at minimizing the effects of poverty, rates are not declining as expected. An enhanced solution is needed; the role of family, especially the influence of the parent-child relationship, must also be considered as a solution technique in minimizing the effects of poverty. Both Education For All and Millennium Developmental Goals seek to repair, build, and find solutions for socioeconomic status, work hours, marital status, and education; however, the issue of parent-child relationships is often neglected or disregarded. According to Child & Family Social Work, families in poverty can be understood more clearly when observed through the label of “excluded families,” as impoverished families are called such because they lack in material, social, and cultural resources (Mitchell). As a result, resources for the families are detrimental and create a further disadvantaged state for the families. This problem reaffirms the necessity of studying and targeting the family in order to pinpoint a start for the solution of minimizing the effects of poverty.
The Family System Through studying the family, the role of parents in their children’s life appears irreplaceable. This incomparable role of parenthood is displayed through an analyzed study published in Educational Research, as 18% to 20% of parents feel inadequate and “unable to engage” in helping their children in their schooling efforts within the home. A parent’s inability to engage in their child’s schooling elicits from a lack of education and contributes to the inescapable cycle of poverty for their children (Koshy). Parental involvement naturally shapes the life, nature, and many resulting opportunities of the children. It has been found that “parent-initiated behaviors such as reading, storytelling, peer interactive play, and family outings” attribute to and influence the development of children, and “children in minority, poorer, and less educated families in at-risk neighborhoods spend fewer days per week engaged in these activities” (Kenney). Therefore, parent interaction with children is necessary in order for successful development, especially for impoverished families often lacking this parent-child relationship.
Stance: Studies on the Family • 61 Even minimal parental effort has a significant, evident impact on the development of children. Without effort, negative developmental effects of a parental figure’s limited influence are displayed through a study performed in Reno, Nevada. During this study, the significance of a parent-child relationship was acknowledged through a parent literacy project. The study involved a high-poverty school that measured the change of performance in their students as parents became more involved and interactional with their children’s schooling in the home. These results were meaningful, since they clearly displayed how a positive parent-child relationship is essential in the educational outcomes of impoverished children (Barone). The opportunity for a child to progress to a higher level of education increases as impoverished parents become involved with their children’s future. This increase in opportunity for impoverished children to have a better future decreases the current limited futures available, as higher levels of education allow for an amplified chance of removal from poverty. Every aspect of life has an influence on the family. The authors of Child & Family Social Work have discovered the family’s key: Individuals and families are greatly affected by broader societal, cultural and family forces over time. The effects can enable parenting to be successful and enjoyable. Sometimes, effects are more equivocal, and strains and stresses vie with positive effects. Sometimes, societal and cultural forces include strongly entrenched patterns of poverty, racism, marginalization, disadvantage and social exclusion that affect both the family itself and its informal social network. (Mitchell) Because individuals and families are so easily influenced by outside sources, it becomes a necessity to strengthen the family. By strengthening family ties, family connectedness and strength will grow even in times of poverty. Stronger families help create brighter futures for children to escape the cycle of poverty.
Conclusion In order to minimize the effects of poverty on the futures of children, the parent-child relationship should be strengthened through public awareness and the help of government agencies and non-profit organizations.
62 • Stance: Studies on the Family As parents in poverty are educated and receive help through various organizations, a strong relationship between the child and parent is formed through a bond of trust, love, care, and support. These strengthened parent-child relationships have been shown to increase the opportunity of their children to receive a better education and promote developmental skills. If the children are able to remove themselves from the cycle of poverty, their future families have a higher chance of avoiding poverty. This change would limit the volume of poverty in the United States as a whole and positively affect the economy, government, health, family, education, and daily life. Possible solutions are to add program policies focusing on strengthening this parent-child relationship, while still benefiting from programs such as Millennium Development Goals and Education For All. While many factors need to be aimed at progression, strengthening families should be a core method in limiting the effects of poverty. Although this solution does not immediately or completely removes families from poverty, it prepares for future generations, enabling a future for impoverished children.
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Works Cited Abramsky, Sasha. “America’s Shameful Poverty Stats.” The Nation. 297.14 (2013): 1–3. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 Mar. 2014. Barone, Diane. “Welcoming Families: A Parent Literacy Project in a Linguistically Rich, High-Poverty School.” Early Childhood Education Journal 38.5 (2011): 377–384. Academic Search Premier. Web. 11 Mar. 2014. Duncan, Greg J., Ariel Kalil, and Kathleen M. Ziol-Guest. “Early childhood poverty and adult achievement, employment and health.” Family Matters 93 (2013): 27–35. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 Mar. 2014. Hanson, Jamie L., et al. “Family Poverty Affects the Rate of Human Infant Brain Growth.” PloS ONE 8.12 (2013): 1–9. Academic Search Premier. Web. 11 Mar. 2014. Jensen, Eric. “HOW Poverty Affects Classroom Engagement.” Educational Leadership 70.8 (2013): 24–30. Academic Search Premier. Web. 11 Mar. 2014. Kenney, Mary. “Child, Family, and Neighborhood Associations with Parent and Peer Interactive Play During Early Childhood.” Maternal & Child Health Journal 16 (2012): 88–101. Academic Search Premier. Web. 11 Mar. 2014. Koshy, Valsa, et al. “Exploring the views of parents of high ability children living in relative poverty.” Educational Research 55.3 (2013): 304–320. Academic Search Premier. Web. 11 Mar. 2014. Lein, Laura. “Poverty and welfare.” Family Matters 93 (2013): 17–26. Academic Search Premier. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. Mitchell, Gaye, and Lynda Campbell. “The social economy of excluded families.” Child & Family Social Work 16.4 (2011): 422–433. Academic Search Premier. Web. 11 Mar. 2014. Niemelä, Mikko. “Perceptions of the Causes of Poverty in Finland.” Acta Sociologica (Sage Publications, Ltd.) 51.1 (2008): 23–40. Academic Search Premier. Web. 18 Feb. 2015.
64 • Stance: Studies on the Family Nordtveit, Bjorn Harald. “Poverty alleviation and integrated service delivery: Literacy, early child development and health.” International Journal of Educational Development 28.4 (2008): 405–418. Academic Search Premier. Web. 11 Mar. 2014. “Poverty.” Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection. Detroit: Gale, 2012. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.
“Knightly Duty” Paul Gallo
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One Isn’t the Loneliest Number Lottie Elizabeth Peterson
re you a convert?” I was asked this question a few years ago in an English class at the start of the semester. We were going around the room introducing ourselves.
Several people had gone before me, introducing themselves as “the oldest of five,” “the middle child of three,” and “the youngest of four.” All eyes were fixed on me, and I made the following “unique” declaration: “My name is Elizabeth Peterson. I’m from South Carolina, and I am an only child.” This statement has often been declared at the start of the semester, at orientation meetings, or in get-to-know-you-games. However, the response I received this time around was unprecedented. Questions including “Why are you an only child?” and “Do you wish you had a brother or sister?” and “Do you ever feel lonely?” flooded the room. To dispel these questions, and, perhaps, unravel some of the mystery behind the only child experience, I wish to answer each of them in this essay.
1. “Why are you an only child?” I find this kind of an odd question since this is a matter typically discussed between parents and in prayer. But, in my particular case, I can provide a concrete answer. Pam Jackson was thirty-five when she married Professor Paul Peterson. At this point in her life, Pam had served a mission in Spain, graduated from BYU with a Master’s degree, taught English in Taiwan for a year and a half, and was now more ready than ever to apply all of her gained knowledge and experience to marriage and motherhood. When she met Paul, she knew this was the man she was supposed to be with. So, at age forty-two, Dr. Paul Peterson proposed to Pam. Two years later they were expecting their first child. 67
Pam was at risk for greater health issues at age thirty-seven, and serious complications emerged throughout her pregnancy. By the hand of God, and in alignment with her intuition that had always told her she would have a girl, Pam gave birth to me on October 14, 1990—two months early. Doctors were uncertain if my mother or I would survive. Over twenty-four years later, the Peterson family is alive and well. My parents’ unwavering faith during that time has only strengthened over the years. They weren’t able to have any more children after that (without putting my mother’s life in serious danger), but, my dad has always told me, “We got you.”
2. “Do you wish you had a brother or sister?” Growing up outside of Utah, I wasn’t the anomaly as an only child. In fact, my childhood best friend was also an only child. On average, kids at my high school had one or two other siblings. Sure, I didn’t have the experience of sneaking into an older sister’s closet or makeup drawer, or getting made fun of by a brother, but what I did get to experience far overcompensated “missing out” on those types of experiences. I got to go to the movies with my Dad on a regular basis and not only enjoy a film and his company, but also proudly feast upon a one pound bag of M&Ms we always successfully snuck into the theater. I got to watch mystery shows with my Mom, and we would have competitions to see who could solve the crime first. I got to regularly play board games with my parents, always winning bragging rights—especially when we played Scrabble. I got to shamelessly sob into my parents’ arms when my high school boyfriend and I broke up before beginning college. Moments like these with my parents cultivated a relationship of trust and love that has been a constant in my life as I have navigated my way through college, a six month excursion to China, my first semester of grad school, and my current preparations for marriage this summer. This is not to say that those who grow up in families with many siblings are automatically subjected to neglect or do not share similar experiences; however, in my particular case, being an only child allowed me to really focus on my
relationship with my parents and learn exactly how to connect with them one-on-one, in addition to as a couple. Even though I have been out of the home since 2009, I probably talk on the phone with my parents more than the average child, who typically has a sibling he or she can call when conversation or guidance is desired. Children with siblings can obviously have this strong parental connection, but it is the eighteen years of living—uninterrupted by the lives of siblings in my home—that led to me having such an open line of communication with my parents. I feel their love and concern for me every single day. Although my parents claim that as a young child I constantly demanded to have a sibling, I outgrew that as I saw how lucky I was to be the center and focus of two compassionate, spiritual, and selfless individuals’ lives.
3. “Do you ever feel lonely?” Perhaps one of the nicest things about being an only child is that there is more space for friends, parties, and sleepovers. As nice as it is to have great friendship and support from parents, such support is also needed from peers if anyone is to have a truly healthy and well-rounded social upbringing. Lacking siblings in whom to confide, I was fortunate enough to find friends growing up who I would not hesitate to say filled the role of siblings. In my media and religion class this past semester, we discussed how identity and relationships were once understood as being fixed matters, revolving around the central unit of the biological nuclear family. The class also discussed how modern society has brought into play this concept of “networked identity” in which the term family is granted greater fluidity. In other words, we can move more easily in and out of various forms of family as we travel to different places or move on to new chapters in our lives. While my parents form the heart and essence of my family, being two thousand miles away from home, I have experienced the joy of family expansion through my friends, roommates, classmates, and people I have met while traveling abroad. A lot of hands have been extended to me over the years, and my family has grown from two parents in South Carolina to encompassing roommates who consider me a part of their families, to friends in China who go out of their way to make sure I am happy, and to a grad school cohort I spend every waking minute with, breathing in endless pages of readings and assignments. While the Peterson name may only
contain three people, the number of people within my own networked family contains so many more. Almost four years have passed since I was asked all of those questions in my class. At first I was offended by what I perceived to be an abrasive interrogation, but I am now thankful for that moment because it allowed me to see how lucky I am to have such a tight-knit nuclear family in addition to a large and uplifting networked family. And I am happy to say that, come this August, my family will only grow larger as I marry a man who would have stood up in that classroom four years ago and declared himself â€œthe second youngest of seven.â€?
Interview with Dr. Heather Belnap-Jensen Conducted by Becca Barrus and Catherine Ann Hollingsworth The following is an interview with Dr. Heather Belnap-Jensen, professor of art history at Brigham Young University. She was one of the study abroad coordinators when Catherine and Becca went to London and is a role model of what it means to have a career and a family.
Please tell us a little about yourself. I’m a California-Utah hybrid and the oldest of five children. I come from a very artsy family. All my other siblings were involved in theatre or dance or vocal performance. I was the studious one who always had her nose in a book. I did my undergraduate and masters degrees at BYU and my PhD. at the University of Kansas. I’ve always had a love for the humanities in general, but especially for art history. I’m married and have four children, ages seven to fourteen, and a new puppy.
What did you want to be when you grew up? Well, it depends—of course—on the time you would’ve asked me, but I remember doing an autobiography (I think it was in the fifth grade), and there were four things I wanted to be: an author, a meteorologist, an interior decorator, and a teacher. So I’ve achieved two of the four.
When you were growing up and wanted to be all these things, did you have any teachers who were role models? Yes. I had a phenomenal teacher who was both my fourth grade and my sixth grade teacher. She was one of those amazingly dedicated teachers who thought we great capacities. She taught us how to set goals and use a planner to manage our time and gave us huge projects. We did things like stage Macbeth, with costuming and everything, and I remember doing a 71
72 • Stance: Studies on the Family project on Incan civilization, where she taught me how to shoot slides so that I could do a presentation for the class. I remembering watching a film about Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper and I remember being captivated with this world of paint dripping off the walls and popes fighting for artists’ attention. The summer after sixth grade she went to Athens, and she sent me a postcard of the Parthenon that said she knew how much I loved ancient Greece and that she hoped that someday I’d get there. A couple of years ago, I was there for the first time, and I remembered getting that postcard and that incredibly dedicated teacher. She was extremely formative to my education and development of my approach of teaching and mentorship.
Did you have any other teachers who influenced you? Or leaders? Or what about your parents? My Canadian grandmother really fostered my love of learning. She would send me books that she’d collected from garage sales, and I would get a big box of these for Christmas and my birthday. And for a lot of kids, they would not think that was cool, but I love the smell of old books and the new worlds they represented And then my mother was extremely bright— she skipped a grade in school, and she graduated at the top of her advertising program at BYU at age twenty. And my grandfather just instilled in her the belief that she could be anything she wanted to be. My father also did this for me. Never once did I consider that I had limitations.
Where did you go to college as an undergrad, and why you go there? I came to BYU because I thought that’s just what Mormon kids did. I got caught up along with my other friends in seeing how good a school you could get into—Ivy leagues and prestigious schools. But I knew I wanted to come up here. I’d mostly grown up in Salt Lake City and visited Provo for football games and Sundance theater and youth conference, and so it felt like home. So I came to BYU and majored in Humanities and History, and got my secondary education teaching certificate because I got really bad advising here on campus, and I thought that college professors always taught high school first because you had to figure out how to teach and then you would go to the next level—which isn’t true. But I student taught at a local high school, and I while I loved that, I knew within a few
Stance: Studies on the Family • 73 months of graduating that I needed to go on. So I came back and did my Master’s degree in Humanities, where my focus was on nineteenth-century French art and literature. Then I did my PhD in the History of Art at the University of Kansas.
Why University of Kansas? Well, they gave me a very nice fellowship. I hadn’t imagined going to school in the Midwest—I’d always imagined I’d be on one of the coasts— but there was the fellowship, and when we went out to visit, it just felt right. And of course it was a matter of prayer. I had some fantastic educational experiences there, but also encountered some difficult circumstances—the person I had come to study with left the university after my first year there. But I developed relationships there and served in the Church as never before. I was in Young Women’s presidency, and I would drive the girls to the stake center that was forty-five minutes away almost every weekend. I developed a very close relationship with those girls. And I did some missionary work. I didn’t serve a mission, so I felt like I had some experience in the field there.
You speak French, correct? Yes, I do.
Do you speak any other languages? I can get by in Italian . . . if I have to. I can read nominally in German.
Why did you choose to study French? I think it was my mother growing up in a French Canadian environment. I would go and visit my grandmother and would see that their shampoo bottles had descriptions in both English and French. And mother had learned French, too, growing up. So there was really no question about which language I should learn. And I loved art, and it seemed like France was the place where art was made, so I continued my studies.
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Did you have any other professors who inspired or guided you? The chair of the department at the University of Kansas was my surrogate advisor. Although she, in the end, was not the lead advisor for my dissertation, she really served as a mentor. She was very nurturing, and also she was single mother with two young children. And I appreciated watching how she navigated that. Also, there was a professor in the English department who specialized in Victorian literature—I had a secondary field in nineteenth-century literature—who was very influential. She’s LDS, and we served in Young Women’s together. While she was exemplary as a teacher-scholar, I looked to her as a mentor on how to raise your family, to be devout, to navigate all those things. I remember one particular conversation after an event, we sat in her car, and we talked about how hard it is to balance everything and we cried together. I remember she said, “Whatever you do, don’t try to be it all and do it all on your own. You have to have help. You have to have a support system. You have to have a village. You don’t have to make all the Halloween costumes. And every meal doesn’t have to be the most fantastic meal.” And at the time I remember thinking, “I can do it all! What are you talking about?” But now I recognize what that means and how it is difficult that balancing act is and how you make choices and you wonder.
What was your dissertation on? What did that process look like? My dissertation is on women art critics in Revolutionary and Napoleonic France. It was a very difficult process in part because I had to change advisers several times. And I also got hired here [at BYU] just as I started writing the dissertation. Ideally, you don’t do that. One should finish the dissertation before taking a full-time job. And I also had three children before I finished my dissertation, so that made things more challenging. But I also feel like I learned a lot of lessons, and there were a lot of blessings. Because I had a full time job and a family, I couldn’t just go and spend a whole year doing research in France, as is customary. I had one summer in France to do the bulk of my research. I took my husband and my oldest daughter, who was two years old, and spent a couple weeks in the south of France and then the rest of the time in Paris. Every day, I would go to the
Stance: Studies on the Family • 75 library, and before I would start, I would just say a prayer that I would find the things that I needed to find because I didn’t have the leisure to just casually sift through material. I just said, “Look, I’m trying to make this work—to have a family, to have this job, to be committed to these values, but I need some help.” I would call things down and there it was—specific information I was looking for or unanticipated finds—there would be so much there, and I felt really blessed in this process. What was great when I was there was we shared the apartment with another BYU couple who had a daughter the same age. She was also researching her dissertation, so our two husbands would tool around Paris with our toddlers while we did our research together. It was really a great experience and a great example of how you just make it work.
So Kevin, your husband, is amazing. When and where and how did you meet him? We met the first week of school here at BYU. We met at the opening social activity at Vivian Park. And then a few days later, I found out that he was my home teacher. So then he started going the extra mile, checking up on me a lot. So we dated that year, and then he left on a mission. I got even more serious about school in the interim, and we were married a few months after that. And, yes, he is amazing.
Has there ever been a conflict about you wanting and having a career? When we first started talking about marriage, I told him I wanted to be a college professor. Neither of us knew what that looked like because we didn’t come from academic families—we had no model of that. But he has always been a nurturing, supportive sort of guy and had the capacity for that role. I’ve always been really driven and known what I wanted and he recognized that. Has it been a hard thing? Absolutely. Now it’s becoming far more common to be a stay-at-home dad, but fifteen years ago, it was definitely not, and especially in the LDS community and especially here in Utah County. There were a lot of challenging things about that for Kevin—being at home with young kids can be really isolating, but especially when there
76 • Stance: Studies on the Family isn’t a support system. He also did consulting work—he’s in the web industry—on the side. And then after ten years or so of being the primary caregiver, we felt it was time to have him return to the workforce full time. Our children were in school and we were in a position then that I could be at home more—I had finished the dissertation and was closer to tenure— and it was important for his well being.
So communication is a key there. Checking in and making sure that both of you are still on the same page. Yeah, and recognizing that you need to be adaptable. Something might work for someone else, but not for you. Something might work for a while, and then it might not work anymore. You have to say, “This is what’s best for us right now.”
So it sounds like you’ve received some criticism from the community in this area. Are people more supportive now? Do you mean me personally or women in my position? Yes to both. I think I’ve earned the trust of some of my neighbors by saying, “See, I have kids and I nursed them and I’m the room mother just like you.” I actually put a lot of pressure on myself to do all the “mom” stuff as well as my career, which wasn’t healthy. After years of doing this, I did have a crisis of sorts after I realized that it was too much to expect and to do. There are other women in the community that would thrive in the role of room mother (rather than just survive the experience!), and I have all these other opportunities to develop my talents and contribute and serve. So I was able to let go of that a little bit. I also feel that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more comfortable with who I am and so the matter of approval is less of an issue for me. So I’ve become more vocal in my communities than in the past, and instead of trying to blend in and prove my similarities to those around me, I’ve decided it’s important to assert my differences as well. In my associations with neighbors or people at church, I often say, “Well, actually . . .” and push back a little bit and say what’s worked for me or for us. In terms of being a female professor at BYU, that is complicated business. In some respects things are better now than in the past—for example, the
Stance: Studies on the Family • 77 adoption of paid maternity leave was an enormous boon and I benefited greatly from that development—but there are still a lot of cultural barriers at work. I am hopeful that these can be dismantled over time.
How do you connect with your kids? Do you have traditions or do you just kind of take time when you can get it? There are a few things I’ve done fairly regularly over the years. I try to read to my kids a lot—that’s a very important thing to me. The dinner meal— gathered around the table, eating good food, talking about the day—this is also important. And evening family prayer together. These are things we do pretty consistently. But then I also take advantage of other moments. When we’re in the car on the way to art or sports class or early morning seminary in the morning, I get a few minutes with my children one-on-one and check in. I try to structure longer stretches for connecting—my kids call it “special time”— that is more focused and with more purposeful conversations.
Was the decision to have children difficult? No. We always knew we wanted children. Honestly, I didn’t think that you could not want to be a mom or dad. I had a marvelous childhood with nurturing parents and supportive siblings, so I wanted to honor that. Like everyone, we had some difficulties along the way—miscarriage, relentless morning sickness, partum depression—and then the raising of children is no easy feat, but there was never a question about having children.
As difficult as motherhood is, as well as your career, how do you de-stress? How do you unwind? I didn’t do it very well for ten years. I finally realized that I needed to take back some parts of my life, some parts of my self that I had allowed to languish. I recognized that I had to find healthier ways to deal with stress than eating my feelings. So I started exercising—Zumba, running, Pilates—and I took my body back, which I had to do after all these kids. I also began reading for personal enjoyment and not just for work. And I’ve also realized the importance of friends. For a long time, I didn’t nourish
78 • Stance: Studies on the Family friendships because I lacked the time—I couldn’t hang on with my neighbors and their kids because I was teaching and I didn’t have time for long lunches with colleagues because I would go home to nurse or be with my young children. And I also felt so different from others—I’m the only woman in my ward with a PhD. and I’m a bit older than most of the moms who are my children’s ages. But I decided that I needed to seek out likeminded people and develop friendships and that has enriched my life tremendously.
You’ve done a lot of women’s studies, too. How do you reconcile faith and feminism? I have students ask me about that all the time. For me, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is one of that espouses equality, dignity, agency, power—and these are the major concerns of feminism—and so my feminism is born out of my faith. So I obviously don’t think they’re irreconcilable—in fact, quite the opposite. As a teacher, I try to emphasize the importance of acknowledging that each person’s faith or feminism is unique, and while we may have some shared values or understandings, in the end it is predicated on individual beliefs, needs, and experiences. We need to honor the fact that people are in different places on the path of life. And also that we have been charged with standing for truth and bearing each others’ burdens. My work in women’s studies flows out of this felt imperative—again, one that comes from my faith.
Our final question is what advice would you give to women who are struggling with the church or who want to be mothers and professionals? Or what general advice do you have? You have to be true to yourself, and you have to ask those hard questions of yourself. It’s so important as you hear and read things that you say, “Is that right?” You need to study things out, work through things while staying as close as you can to the Lord. Be thoughtful about life, your big choices as well as your small ones, and say, “Am I just buying into this? Or am I making these choices in a thoughtful, conscientious sort of way?” and let the Spirit to guide you in those decisions. You have to say, “What do I need to be the best person possible?” It’s not about being selfish. It’s about honoring who you are, your personhood.
The Battle Within: A Case Study of Sibling Relationships Jennifer K. Wahlquist
Abstract: Sibling relations are an integral part of society, one which has yet to be fully appreciated. This paper1 examines a single case study to determine how sibling intimacy, parental differential treatment, and sibling conflict levels change over time in one family. Data were collected using an in-home interview where children reported on a variety of measures. Sibling intimacy levels fluctuated over the duration of the study while parental differential treatment remained constant. In comparison, sibling conflict levels continually decreased. More research needs to be conducted to discover the cause between the changes in each of these categories.
â€‚ ibling relationships play an important role in adolescent development (Yuan, 2009). There are three main aspects to sibling relationships: intimacy, rivalry, and conflict. Sibling intimacy is important because it fosters behaviors such as trust, emotional support, and companionship. (Bigelow & La Gaipa, 1980; Sharabany, Gershoni, & Hoffman, 1981). Sibling rivalry is important because parental differential treatment (PDT) is linked to higher levels of depression (Stocker, Dunn, & Plomin, 1989), antisocial and delinquent behavior (Richmond, Stocker, & Rienks, 2005), and substance use (Mekos, Hethington, & Reiss, 1996). Conflict is important because it has been associated with externalizing behaviors, such as delinquency, aggression, and criminal activity (Buist &Vermande, 2014). Sibling conflict is also linked to many internal behaviors, including depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues (Yuan, 2009). Despite the influence of sibling 1. This research was supported by grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01-HD32336 and R01-HD29409) to Ann C. Crouter and Susan M. McHale, co-principal investigators.
80 • Stance: Studies on the Family relationships, little is known about the development of these aspects over time. In the present study, I employed a single case study to observe how sibling relationships changed over adolescence in one particular family.
The family for this study came from the Family Relationships Project, a longitudinal study of family life focused on sibling relationships. The family for this case study included two parents (married to each other) and two children. The father went to four years of college while the mother attended college for one year. The firstborn child was a girl and the second child was a boy. The siblings were born two years apart. The first wave of data was collected when the girl was 10 and the boy was 8.
Sibling intimacy measures the amount of affection in a relationship. At the beginning of the study, the younger child reported an intimacy level of 1.88 on a scale of 1–5 with higher values reflecting greater sibling warmth. Over the course of the next three years, that rating went up to a 2.38. In comparison, the older sibling reported a rating of 1.5 at the beginning of the study with an increase to a 2.5 over the next three years. It is interesting to note that the older sibling initially had a lower intimacy rating, but that rating increased by twice as much over the course of three years. A possible reason for the increase in intimacy could be that as both children were attending high school, they were better able to relate to one another’s experiences. After a two-year break, the study continued with the younger sibling reporting an intimacy level of 2.25, which was only slightly lower than what was last reported. Two years later, the intimacy level had dropped to a 1.88. This would have been about the time the younger sibling entered high school. After this year, the rating went back up to a 2.13. After the hiatus, the older sibling was entering high school and reported an intimacy rating of 1.88, the same as the younger sibling did when entering high school. The very next year the rating jumped to a 2.75 before reducing to a 2.25 at the conclusion of the study. Both siblings reporting a rating of 1.88 at 15 years of age signifies that entering high school triggers a decrease in intimacy levels. This decrease could be due to the social pressures and changes in peer groups that occur
Stance: Studies on the Familyâ€ƒ â€˘â€ƒ 81 during the first year of high school; it could also be the result of puberty and hormonal changes, but more research is needed to successfully analyze this change in intimacy level.
Parental differential treatment (PDT), commonly known as favoritism, can strongly affect a relationship. PDT was rated on a scale of 1 to 3 with 1 being unfair and 3 being very fair. The youngest sibling reported a fairness level of 3 the first year of the study but then dropped to 1 during the second year. The older sibling reported a 2, which is a neutral standing. A possible cause for this could be that because the older sibling was two grades higher in school, she was given more freedom to spend time with friends while the younger had more restrictions. Another possible explanation could be the difference in personality types. If the younger sibling was prone to risky behaviors, he would be limited when compared to his elder sister. For the remainder of the study, both siblings reported a 3, which means treatment was very fair. This could be due to a wide variety of reasons. Ignoring one another could affect how siblings viewed parental treatment as they could care less about the other sibling. As discussed earlier, sibling intimacy fluctuated greatly throughout the study, so this does not seem to have been the case. Another possible scenario is that one sibling may have had a disability which could affect how the fairness level was viewed. From the data gathered there is no concrete way to tell why the view was changed.
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Children reported on their sibling relations using five items from Stocker and McHale (1992). Items were based on a five-point scale with higher values reflecting greater sibling conflict (e.g., “Some children are mean to their brother or sister sometimes even if they really care about them. How often would you say you do things to your brother/sister like tease, but, or call him/her names?”). Both siblings reported relatively high levels of sibling conflict, with the eldest reporting a 3.8 and the younger reporting a 4. Over the duration of the study, both siblings reported a decrease in conflict, reporting a final 1.2 for the younger sibling and a 1.8 for the elder sibling. A possible cause for this is that both siblings had become more mature from experiencing puberty and high school. Another possible cause could be that the siblings have little in common or do not spend much time together, which would also decrease the amount of conflict.
This case study exhibited how different aspects of a relationship change over time. As the children matured, the conflict levels decreased and yet intimacy levels fluctuated greatly. A full data analysis would need to be conducted to see how these different aspects affected each other and how parental differential treatment did or did not affect how these changes occurred. One major limitation of this case study is that it was self-reported by the children studied. A full data analysis studying the factors in this case study, as well as other factors such as age gap and peer relationships, is
Stance: Studies on the Family • 83 needed to more fully examine what causes sibling conflict. When gathering data, watching sibling interactions and recording those interactions would be more beneficial than asking each child to complete a questionnaire to see results. Sibling conflict runs rampant in today’s families; this battle within families, if not addressed, has the potential to harm the family structure and adolescent development.
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Works Cited Bigelow, B. J., & LaGaipa, J. J. (1980). “The development of friendship values and choice.” In H. C. Foot, A. J. Chapman, & J. R. Smith (Eds.), Friendship and social relations in children (pp. 15–44). New York: Wiley. Buist, K. L., & Vermande, M. (2014). “Sibling relationship patterns and their associations with child competence and problem behavior.” Journal of Family Psychology, 28(4), 529–537. doi:10.1037/a0036990. Mekos, D. M., Hethington, E. M., & Reiss, D. (1996). “Sibling differences in problem behavior and parental treatment in nondivorced and remarried families.” Child Development, 67(5), 2148–2165. Richimond, M. K., Stocker, C. M., & Rienks, S. L. (2005). “Longitudinal associations between sibling relationship quality, parental differential treatment, and children’s adjustment.” Journal of Family Psychology. Special Issue: Sibling Relationship Contributions to Individual and Family Well Being, 10(4), 550–559. Sharabany, R., Gershoni, R., & Hoffman, J. E. (1981). “Girlfriend, boyfriend: Age and sex differences in intimate friendships.” Developmental Psychology, 17, 800–808. Stocker,C., Dunn, J., & Plomin, R. (1989). “Sibling relationships: Links with child temperament, maternal behavior, and family structure.” Child Development, 60(3), 715–727. Stocker, C. M., & McHale, S. M. (1992). “The nature and family correlates of preadolescents’ perceptions of their sibling relationships.” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 9, 179–195. doi:10.1177/0265407592092002.
Grandpa’s Garden Shayla Frandsen
raced intently through the familiar dusty paths that wound their way through Grandpa’s garden. Oblivious to my surroundings, I concentrated on a small, white butterfly. My five-year-old hands gripped a homemade butterfly net, and I was bursting with determination. I pursued the butterfly’s path earnestly and tried to guess which way it was going to fly next. Up. Down. Over. Down. Up. Its joyful dance drew it higher and higher into the sky until it was out of sight. The butterfly’s disappearance was disappointing, but my curious mind soon forgot the failed quest. I abandoned the butterfly net and skipped away, searching for Grandpa’s hunter-orange hat. Grandpa spent most of his time in his garden. It was a perfect childhood playground, sitting between the apple trees and the cornfield and surrounded by a tall, chicken-wire fence. The gate, light and rusty, opened to a delightful mixture of sights, sounds, and smells. The plants were arranged in neat disorder—growing in vines, on bushes, or under the ground. The sprinkler continuously drizzled in the background. The air was fresh with the scent of new flowers and wet earth, and the hum of insects hovered in the air. My time spent in Grandpa’s garden was filled with smelling blossoms, planting seeds, or chasing butterflies, but it didn’t matter what I did; if Grandpa was there, I was happy. Skipping through the garden, I finally found Grandpa’s hat poking out of the raspberry bushes, and I pushed my way to his side. He was propped on an upturned bucket, his Levi overalls smeared with dirt. He held out his large, weathered hand. Resting on his palm were five raspberries, each a deep, glistening red. I slipped one into my mouth and beamed with pleasure. As Grandpa smiled back at me, his light blue eyes twinkled, and we savored together, for one moment, perfect contentment. 85
To Marry or Not to Marry: What Jane Austen’s Persuasion Teaches Mormons about the Duality of Duty and Risk Conor Hilton
I. The Duty-Risk Binary1
According to research commissioned by Naomi Schafer Riley in 2010, “Mormons are the least likely to marry members of other faiths” (Fish). The duality of persuasion in Jane Austen’s Persuasion sheds some light on this reality, particularly the plight of Anne throughout the novel. Extending the events of Persuasion to a modern Mormon context gives understanding that is sometimes difficult to see from a purely inside perspective, functioning effectively to “throw light upon the relation of art to life, science, economics, ethics, religion, etc.” (Auden 9). Persuasion centers on the interactions between Anne Elliot, Captain Wentworth, and Lady Russell. Because Anne’s father and sister are dismissive of her and have squandered the family money, Lady Russell stands in for the mother that Anne does not have. Anne’s father and sister do not have significant influence over Anne, given her poor relations with them, making her highly susceptible to the advice of Lady Russell. Moments of persuasion in the text often revolve around the issue of marriage, particularly between Anne and Captain Wentworth. Understandably, the importance of persuasion itself has been a prominent piece of the critical discourse on Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Arthur Walzer discussed persuasion’s relevance in connection with eighteenth century rhetorical theory. In addition to Walzer’s work, Linda Bree analyzes conversation as the means to persuade in her piece “Belonging to the Conversation in Persuasion.” Her writing complements much of Walzer’s work, particularly her argument that conversation is central to interacting with others (287). 1. Comments or observations about Mormonism as a culture or belief system, when not cited, come from the author’s own experience as an active, life-long member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).
88 • Stance: Studies on the Family The lens of duality and its connection to Mormonism derives from Anne’s commentary on persuasion in the text itself. Anne refers to the dual nature of persuasion, describing her original encounter with persuasion as “exerted on the side of safety, not of risk. . . . It was to duty” (173). Anne’s comments lead to an analysis of the duty and risk involved in marriage in nineteenth-century England and contemporary Mormonism. Such a comparison is apt, given the connection between the two cultures noted by scholars such as Dorice Elliot, who said, “By the time the [LDS Church] reached the middle of the twentieth century . . . the Victorian family . . . was firmly established in both American and Mormon cultures” (23). Bree’s analysis of the importance of conversation, in conjunction with Walzer’s arguments about persuasion and further analysis, gives insight into the conundrum of duty and risk in marriage faced by Anne and by modern Mormons. Is Anne’s duty to marriage higher than the risk of marrying below her social class? Is a Mormon’s duty to marriage higher than the risk of marrying outside the faith? The duality of duty and risk is shown not only in the outcome of the persuasion, but also throughout the process, highlighting the relationship and obligations of the individuals and the role each individual plays in the act of persuading. The question arises if persuasion is inherently good or evil, or if the morality lies with the purpose of the persuasion—if the persuasion moves the persuaded toward duty or toward risk. Where is our duty and what role does risk play in fulfilling it? Anne’s commitment to duty, in her initial yielding to Lady Russell and subsequent commitment to that choice, while acknowledging the pain it caused her, illustrates the complexity of understanding what the text suggests about duty and risk. Persuasion is ambiguous about which half of persuasion’s dual nature is better, suggesting the two conflicting sides must reconcile. Anne’s story lays an interesting framework for an analysis of marriage culture within Mormonism. The values are strikingly similar for nineteenth-century England and modern-day Mormonism, allowing Anne’s experience to provide insight into a possible solution for the difficult duality presented by interfaith marriage. Anne’s experience suggests that there is value in being dutiful, but that happiness comes with compromise and the reconciliation of duties and risks that accompany persuading and being persuaded.
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II. Anne’s Duty
Anne’s words seem to favor duty in the persuasion dichotomy, despite the negative result. “If I was wrong in yielding to persuasion once, remember that it was to persuasion exerted on the side of safety, not of risk” (Austen 173). Anne recognizes the potential fault in her earlier persuasion, but justifies it by the ends it sought to achieve, suggesting that desires play a larger role in determining the morality of a situation than the reality of it. What is Anne’s primary duty? She clearly has a duty to marry, but she must also remain within her social class. During the first episode of persuasion, Anne still had a high probability of marrying if she refused Wentworth’s proposal. Captain Wentworth, especially at the time of his first proposal, was of a significantly lower social class than Anne, marking him as an unsuitable match. The same dilemma occurs in Mormonism: there is a strong duty to marry, but to marry within the faith. Giving in to persuasion because it advocates duty is admirable, even when it results in pain—as it did for Anne. There may be an expectation, particularly within Mormonism, that by yielding to duty, future blessings are in store. Besides the thoroughly negative results that Walzer claims come from Anne’s decision to give in to Lady Russell, Anne holds that she made the right decision for that time (Austen 174). Her belief that allegiance to duty will be rewarded is apparent. Perhaps Anne’s allegiance to duty can be traced to a condition that Bree noted concerning Anne’s life at Kellynch Hall: “When Anne speaks she is either ignored or contradicted” (289). Anne likely felt less important than Lady Russell and thought that her opinion was less valid. Anne was not confident enough in her own social sphere, and this may have in part lead her to submit to the role dictated by her social sphere to gain confidence. Anne’s lack of confidence and Lady Russell’s role as a mother” figure forms the groundwork for understanding their relationship. Lady Russell filled the void left when Anne’s mother died. Combine Lady Russell’s role with Anne’s already negative feelings and diminished position at Kellynch Hall, and Anne was bound to give in to duty. The position placed Anne duty-bound to respect the wishes of Lady Russell. She had no other option if she wanted to act towards duty. Describing her situation, Anne stated, “If I had done otherwise, I should have suffered more . . . than I did even in giving it up, because I would have suffered in my conscience” (174). Anne would have been haunted by her guilt of not yielding to Lady Russell.
90 • Stance: Studies on the Family Lady Russell acts as a reinforcing agent of cultural expectations, much as a parent or ecclesiastical leader could within Mormonism. Complicating the situation in a Mormon context is the expected adherence to commandments, such as honoring your father and mother, and the belief that ecclesiastical leaders have a right and capability to receive revelation from God to counsel the individuals under their stewardship. In these situations, the persuader acts on behalf of a larger cultural construct, which makes the role of the persuader inherently on the side of duty. The persuader strives to bring the persuaded in line with the expectations of the culture as he or she understands them. Lady Russell believed that Anne should not marry at all, rather than marry outside her social class. The persuader is in a position where his or her desires will be met; there is nothing to lose. But the position of the persuaded is littered with risk. Anne, as the persuaded, had a choice—to yield to the cultural construct of duty presented by Lady Russell or to break the construct by marrying outside her social class.
III. Risk of Persuasion
Anne originally faced the danger of breaking the cultural construct in marrying Wentworth, which parallels the risk of a Mormon marrying outside the faith. Wentworth was from a different social class than Anne, which was one of the reasons Lady Russell persuaded her to not marry him. The parallel view to Mormonism takes the social-class issues of the nineteenth century and perceives them as issues of religious affiliation. The issue of religious affiliation becomes a type of class issue within Mormonism, because marriages outside the faith are culturally seen as “second-class unions,” essentially making those involved second-class members (Chandler 39). The cultural pressure that views interfaith marriages as second-class increases the risk involved when yielding to persuasion and opposes duty. The decision to marry someone outside of Mormonism brings risks of alienating family on both sides, hurting friends, and damaging social standing within the Church. Due to the intricacies of Mormon theology, an interfaith marriage is in effect accepting that the highest level of Heavenly glory is unreachable, much as a marriage to a lower social class member in Victorian culture doomed the family to remain as lower class citizens for the foreseeable future during Anne’s time.
Stance: Studies on the Family • 91 Anne proposes that persuasion can be to advocate risk. This side of persuasion is slighted when it is introduced into the novel by Anne’s quote, in which she justifies her past actions by the result, which the persuasion achieved. Walzer claims that Anne, “acting as a persuader through indirection, counters his [Wentworth’s] fear of rejection with hope of acceptance” (703). In this sense, Wentworth is being persuaded to what he sees as risk, his fear of rejection, with seemingly nothing to gain but everything to lose by giving in to Anne’s persuasions. Anne represents her view of the cultural construct that inter-class marriage is better than no marriage. In this moment of persuasion, Wentworth needed to be persuaded. He describes the precarious situation that he found himself in, saying, “The indelible, immoveable impression of what persuasion had once done—was it not all against me?” (173). Wentworth had no obligation to persuade, yet he was motivated to act. He acknowledged the risk, and was hesitant because of it, but ultimately acted in spite of the risk. Wentworth is the well-meaning suitor, who realizes that his non-member status causes potential strife for the Anne in Mormonism. He is wary of returning to that path, knowing the risk of alienation and separation that could result from an interfaith marriage. Again, the relationships between the characters are integral to seeing the full range of duty and risk in the act of persuasion. The final act of persuasion, with Anne, Captain Wentworth, and Lady Russell, is an illustration of the potential risk involved. Anne risked alienating Lady Russell and the remainder of her family by giving in to the persuasions of Wentworth. Wentworth risked his dignity and social standing by asking again the woman that once refused him to marry him again. Lady Russell, previously in control of the situation, was faced with the risk of the unknown. She strives to keep the cultural construct alive by encouraging Anne to marry Mr. Elliot instead of Wentworth, but is unsuccessful as Anne takes on her own construct of the culture. Anne again leaning towards marrying Wentworth threatens to overthrow the societal restraints that Lady Russell has worked to keep in place. If Anne did not yield to persuasion she would have been acting against what she knew her duty to be: leaving safety far behind. Anne, by acting against the wishes of the culture expressed by Lady Russell, potentially would have alienated her family and friends, thereby separating herself from them indefinitely. One Mormon woman, Karen Lewis, details her
92 • Stance: Studies on the Family experience saying, “Differences of religion in a marriage can be personally threatening, can serve as sources of unresolved conflict, and can even be faith-shattering” (Lewis 120). The consequences in Mormonism are potentially larger. Beyond a temporal separation limited to mortality, the potential result of interfaith marriage, or the “risk” decision, is eternal separation.
IV. Finding the Balance
Anne resolves to marry Wentworth, knowing that he remains below her socially but willing to accept the risks involved. Anne’s situation parallels decisions of interfaith marriage in Mormonism as the characters she finds the balance between fulfilling duty’s requirements and keeping bits of risk or passion. This time, rather than blindly accepting the cultural construct forced onto her by Lady Russell, Anne examines her duties and risks and forms her own path of what culture requires of her. A compromise is reached. Both sides agree to come together. Rigid behavior is not accepted. Anne marries Wentworth after he returns and proves his love and good character, elevating him to a higher social status, while Anne’s age culturally makes any marriage more appealing. Should a Mormon do the same? An evaluation of the duties and risks involved, while recognizing the cultural construct that exists and the constraints imposed by it, must occur before any decision or justification of behavior is made. As the text seems to suggest that yielding to persuasion wholly based on duty or completely on risk leads to negative consequences, there must be a middle-ground to reach the happiness Anne ultimately felt. The clear solution would be an act of persuasion based on duty with some elements of risk. Bree suggests that Anne’s progression is tied to her moments of speech, which would imply that her progression involved efforts of persuasion. Anne’s progression from the persuaded to joint persuader follows the cycle of duty and risk, finding the equilibrium of the two. Another view of the middle ground proposed by the text is that the persuader and the persuaded must both require some element of persuasion. Both must be familiar with the art and be willing to give, be it for duty or for risk. In this way, the Mormon follows the counsel that has been given while ultimately coming to realize what parts of the cultural construct are
Stance: Studies on the Family • 93 valuable on a personal, individual level, determining what duties demand allegiance and which are droppable. However, the text shifts the focus from the object of the persuasion to illustrate that the duality of duty and risk extends to both the persuader and the persuaded, connecting their roles. The need to change and be persuaded and persuade is manifest in Wentworth’s transformation, detailed by Walzer. “Wentworth’s willful adherence to a masculine code of honor, has, in a sense, emasculated him . . . . Wentworth learns the value of watching others, listening to others, overhearing others, rather than preaching to others” (704). Wentworth moved from a role pushing to persuade, to being persuaded, to ultimately finding balance and taking part in both aspects of the persuasion process. Perhaps part of determining the end result of the persuasion depends on who the persuader and the persuaded are. In Anne’s circumstance, Lady Russell was her mother figure, putting Anne in a position where duty dictated she comply with the wishes of Lady Russell. It would have been a great risk for Anne to discount Lady Russell’s counsel, not because of the subject matter, but simply because it was Lady Russell that gave it. Anne would have lost the only friend that she had at Kellynch Hall. Had Anne rebelled, it likely would have been disastrous for her familial relations, which were already on the brink of collapse. Evaluating the instance of persuasion by the consequences of yielding to that person’s advice—not due to the actual decision but solely on what the individual would do if their advice was heeded or not—illustrates other aspects of persuasion’s fragmented duality. The counter instance of persuasion in the text is the mutual persuasion of Captain Wentworth and Anne. In their relationship, both have something to lose. The situation is sufficiently ambiguous that determining where duty and risk lie is complex and difficult. Wentworth seems to have a large amount of risk, as his proposal has already been refused once, while Anne would have some duty since she was the one that ended the relationship last time. On the other hand, it was not proper at all for the woman to be the aggressor in the relationship, which flips Anne and Wentworth’s levels of duty and risk. The instance seems to be a perfect meld of responsibilities and consequences, creating a balanced event where Wentworth and Anne are both the persuader and the persuaded. Wentworth relates his realization that he loved Anne as follows: “It is not that I did not think of it, or desire it, as what could alone crown all my
94 • Stance: Studies on the Family other success. But I was proud, too proud to ask again” (175). Wentworth needed to be persuaded from his pride, while Anne needed to leave the cultural constraints placed upon her by Lady Russell. This dual role of persuader and persuaded fragments the simple binary of duty and risk. A field of possibilities opens up. By looking at the fragments and finding the commonalities, it is possible to reach a consensus by yielding to duty, to risk, and to persuasion. Only by generously mixing the contradictory elements together can the solution be reached. Extending Anne and Wentworth’s dual nature as persuader and persuaded to interfaith marriage within Mormonism draws interesting comparisons. It illustrates that both partners need to be willing to give and take; both must be willing to sacrifice. They must reach a compromise to have the sublime result that Anne and Wentworth have. An example would be marriage to an honest, virtuous man of another faith, who effectively lives the standards of the LDS Church but is not a member. Perhaps the partners agree to split time between their religious convictions or to raise the children in neither faith exclusively but in a hybrid faith. Regardless of specifics, the same mixing of conflicting elements—persuading and being persuaded that worked for Anne and Wentworth—need to be an aspect of interfaith marriage within Mormonism. The end result of this complex arrangement of duty and risk and persuasion appears to be joy for Anne and Wentworth. “Anne was tenderness itself, and had the full worth of it in affection from Captain Wentworth” (Austen 178). Beyond the “full worth” of affection, Anne also “gloried in being a sailor’s wife” (178). The strength of Austen’s diction implies a great amount of happiness. Beyond rejoicing, she—Anne—gloried. The middle ground can only be found by achieving it on each of the three levels that demonstrate the duality of persuasion. It must be reached in balancing the levels of duty and risk in the outcome, in the persuader and persuaded, and in the relationship between the individuals. If it is not, then the balance is still tilted towards either duty or risk, which, as the text illustrates, leads to tragedy and sorrow.
V. From Binary to Triangle
Duty. Risk. Two sides of persuasion that can yield equally negative results. Anne surrendered to her duty at the advice of Lady Russell, leading to eight years of neglect, loneliness, and sorrow. Several individuals yield to risk
Stance: Studies on the Family • 95 due to the persuasive efforts of others, with equally devastating consequences. Karen Lewis detailed her struggle and suffering, akin to Anne’s. To avoid disaster, the text suggests that persuading and being persuaded are both necessary; some give and take in the realm of duty interspersed with risk is required for joy to result from the act of persuasion. The conclusion of the novel includes the state of balance reached by Anne, Captain Wentworth, and Lady Russell. This balance is achievable because of the give and take, duty with risk, and persuasion that takes place. Perhaps another aspect of the success is that there are three people involved instead of two. The initial binary of duty and risk can best be reconciled when three individuals are involved, creating a triangle of tensions. By stretching the two extremes over three people, balance is more likely to be achieved. This equilibrium is achieved because all three players involved accept a portion of the duty and the risk: Lady Russell allows herself to be persuaded that perhaps this is what is best for Anne. Wentworth is persuaded that Anne really loves him and that he can come to tolerate, even get along with, Lady Russell. Anne is persuaded that she can ignore the past advice of Lady Russell and do what she thinks is best regardless of the consequences. The application to Mormonism differs slightly, but maintains key similarities. Rather than three physical individuals, the relationship transcends the binary of duty and risk, creating a triangle of duty, risk, and cultural constructs. The individuals fit inside the triangle, finding the balance of the duties required by the culture (the risks relevant to each character), and satisfy some of duty’s demands, feed on a taste of risk, and recognize the value and place of the cultural construct. As Anne decided to marry Wentworth, she recognized it was not the ideal vision within the constructed culture, but that it was the best way to satisfy her lingering duty to marry. Anne’s allegiance to duty, while painful, suggests that our first consideration must be our duty; and only when our duties conflict do we incorporate the balance of risk and cultural constructs, the persuader and the persuaded. The cultural construct can only be evaluated and justifiably rejected after thoughtful consideration and trial. Duty and risk combine as each individual finds their place in the triangle formed by the tensions of duty, risk, and cultural constructs.
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Works Cited Auden, W.H. The Dyer’s Hand. New York: Random House, 1963. Print. Austen, Jane. Persuasion. Ed. Patricia Meyer Spacks. New York: Norton, 2013. Print. Bree, Linda. “Belonging to the Conversation in Persuasion.” Eds. Bruce Stovel and Lynn Weinlos Gregg. The Talk in Jane Austen. Edmonton, Canada: University of Alberta Press, 2002. 149–164. Rpt. in Persuasion. Ed. Patricia Meyer Spacks. New York: Norton, 2013. Print. Chandler, Rebecca. “A Fistful of Lists.” Sunstone (Dec. 2003): 32–39. Web. 6 April 2013. Elliott, Dorice Williams. “Women, the Mormon Family, and Class Mobility: Nineteenth-Century Victorian Ideology in a TwentiethCentury Church.” Sunstone (Dec. 1991): 19–26. Web. 6 April 2013. Fish, Stanley. “Marrying Out of the Faith.” The New York Times. 1 April 2013. Web. Lewis, Karen. “One View of Interfaith Marriage.” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 23.2 (1990): 115–120. Web. 6 April 2013. Walzer, Arthur E. “Rhetoric and Gender in Jane Austen’s Persuasion.” College English, 57.6 (1995): 688–707. JSTOR. Web. 9 Feb. 2013.
“family” Sun Yeong Oh
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Disabled Parents and Child Outcomes:
How Disabled Parents Can Accommodate to Improve Their Childrenâ€™s Well-being Alizabeth Leake Worley
Abstract: The large community of disabled parents is becoming increasingly visible through online support groups, blogger networks and other web resources dedicated to disabled parenting. However, there remains to be seen a substantial body of research on these disabled parents and, just as importantly, the outcomes of their children. This is particularly true with physical disabilities, the primary target of this paper. In response to a thorough review of present scholarly literature on a disabled parent in the family, this paper addresses the unique situation many disabled parents encounter and in particular, how these situations directly and indirectly affect child development. Examples of recurring situations include poor health care support, health concerns for the mother or baby during pregnancy, caregiving limitations, and the issue of transferring disability to an child through genes or medications. Each of these situations has the potential to alter the development of an child and, by extension, his or her trajectory. Finally, this paper seeks to aid parents with information and tools needed to make the accommodations and decisions necessary to help their child have better chances for healthy development.
Parents with disabilities, especially ones that involve physical limitations, can face problems having children or caring for children. These difficulties vary depending on the nature of the disability, resources available to parents, and social attitudes. Because of these difficulties, disabled parents need to make informed choices about if or when to have children, what to expect prenatally, how to accommodate disabilities during childrearing, and how to respond to genetic or medication effects on their children. Likewise, parents need to be aware of resources and alternative parenting 103
104 • Stance: Studies on the Family practices available to them. This paper focuses on how each of these topics can affect children and how disabled parents can optimize their children’s well-being.
Background Before delving into the outcomes of a parent’s disability on children, this paper looks at how a disability changes an individual’s experience as a parent and affection between children and their parents with disabilities.
Parent outcomes. In a qualitative study of disabled mothers’ experiences,
mothers consistently reported that they believed it was unfair for them to pass on a disability or otherwise cause impairment to their child as a result of their own disability (Thomas, 1997). This is important to note as it shows that disabled mothers are not irresponsible or selfish in choosing to start a family, as some presume. The same study found that disabled parents have increased anxiety, both as a result of their own concern and as a result of social pressures (Thomas, 1997). A different qualitative study looking at the experience of disabled mothers identified several forms of social pressure that caused anxiety. These included the following: 1) Pressure on the mother to terminate her pregnancy or offer her child for adoption; 2) Ignored medical concerns during pregnancy and birth; 3) Forced separation from her infant or needing to fight to take her infant home; 4) Unwelcome surveillance by professionals; 5) Feeling talked about instead of talked to (WalshGallagher, Sinclair, & McConkie, 2012). These forms of social pressure and the mother’s concern for her child’s welfare actually cause increased anxiety for the mother, which can unnecessarily create or exacerbate negative consequences for infants.
Child Affection. Just as there is little research on the experience of
disabled parents, there is little research on the outcomes for children of disabled parents. However, present research does provide insight on positive and negative infant and later childhood outcomes. The main positive outcome identified as a result of having disabled parents is increased affection and warmth (Rolland, 1999), a critical component to healthy child development. This could be because
Stance: Studies on the Family • 105 disabled parents appreciate the opportunity to parent or because they prioritize relationships as a result of having limited relationship opportunities. However, negative outcomes include potential for less stability, competing parent and child needs, and burnout for the healthy parent in two-parent homes (Rolland, 1999). As well, disabled mothers on Medicaid are more likely to have low birth weight or preterm infants and other complications. (Gavin, Benedict, & Adams, 2006). As later childhood outcomes can reflect experiences in infancy, this paper will briefly review these results. One study found that, compared to children with no disabled parents, children with at least one disabled parent had more positive and more ambivalent feelings toward their parent and less negative feelings. In addition, positive and negative feelings alike were stronger towards disabled parents than non-disabled parents (Duvdevany, Yahav, & Moin, 2005). Infancy is an influential time in molding these parental attachments and can influence the trajectory of child-parent interaction.
Discussion This discussion will attend to the concerns parents have in their ability as caregivers as well as the concerns parents have about non-caregiving issues, such as heredity and medication.
Caregiver Concerns Many disabled parents are concerned about their personal ability to be a caregiver (Rolland, 1999; Thomas, 1997). These concerns need more research but can be partially addressed by looking at research specific to child needs or research specific to disabilities.
Ability to carry and give birth. For mothers with physical or mental and emotional disabilities, three key factors come into play. These are medical cooperation, emergencies not related to pregnancy and pregnancy decision making. First, disabled mothers potentially face poor medical cooperation (Kallianes & Rubenfeld, 1997), despite the medical field’s great
106 • Stance: Studies on the Family investment in both disability and pregnancy. Due to this possibility, disabled women should find a healthcare provider who will inform them of potential risks and recommended precautions. Likewise, they should choose providers who will support their choice of parenting. Establishing this relationship prior to conception may enhance health care support and cooperation. Second, disabled mothers (in particular physically disabled) are more likely to experience emergencies during pregnancy and leading up to childbirth (Charlifue, et al., 1992). Furthermore, they tend to have low social support (Rolland, 1999; Thomas, 1997). The combination of emergencies and less social support could limit a mother’s resources. This could range from a lack of transportation support to a lack of help with daily activities such as eating and cleaning. Because of these factors, disabled women will likely improve their wellbeing if they have strong social support, including family and friends who support the mother’s choice to have a baby (Walsh-Gallagher, Sinclair, & McConkie, 2012). Receiving support with daily needs and activities improves mothers’ own health which directly improves the health of their developing fetus. Third, mothers should research pregnancy with their respective disability before choosing to become pregnant. Mothers should consider how their disability could affect their own health and the health of their baby, as disability can cause serious risks to mothers and their babies during pregnancy and childbirth. These risks include miscarriages, cesarean sections, pre-term or LBW (Low Birth Weight) deliveries, maternal heart problems and infections, toxemia, and nutritional imbalances. Additionally, mothers are more likely to be readmitted to the hospital three months after childbirth (Charlifue et al., 1992; Gavin, Benedict, & Adams, 2006). After considering possible risks and required accommodations discussion with a trusted medical practitioner, women with disabilities should carefully choose whether to conceive or adopt, when, and how to involve medical personnel in their choices.
Physical Care. When it comes to caring for a child’s physical needs, disabled parents often face many complex challenges. Infants require regular feeding, changing, bathing, carrying, putting to bed, putting in a car seat, and other caregiving actions. Physically disabled parents may struggle to perform actual tasks, whereas mentally or emotionally ill parents may
Stance: Studies on the Family • 107 struggle with keeping a timely schedule and feeling like they are making a difference for doing those tasks. While the difficulties disabled parents face varies widely, one example helps illustrate this difficulty and subsequent accommodations. Researcher John Rolland conveys the experience of Nancy, Jim, and Janet. Jim had multiple sclerosis. He had a strong will and a warm personality. He and Nancy wanted to be equal parenting partners, and part of that involved Jim feeding their daughter, Janet. He could perform the task, but because he had coordination difficulties, the feeding was slow. Janet developed infantile colic, which their doctor attributed to slow feeding that could disrupt her consistent needs and leave her upset. In this case, the family needed to adjust roles despite their ideals of parenting equality. Later, when Jim found another impasse when he could no longer read books because of his impaired vision, he accommodated by making up stories. As Janet became older, Jim’s disability interfered less and less as he could bond through language and in other ways (1999). This example illustrates important themes for disabled caregivers. First, as discussed earlier, it shows that Jim and Nancy were deeply invested in their daughter’s well-being and that Jim had many positive parenting characteristics despite his disability. Second, it shows that Janet could not have her feeding needs met by her father, despite his good intentions. Children’s needs may be jeopardized by their parents’ limitations. In these cases, changing parental duties and having another or multiple caretakers may be necessary when changing parental duties is insufficient. Drawing from these themes, disabled parents should acknowledge their concerns for their children and their parenting strengths, but should also be on the lookout for specific tasks that need another caregiver’s attention. This way, a child’s needs are met and the disabled parent can maintain their role as primary caregiver.
Emotional and social care. In addition to facing challenges with
physical caregiving, disabled parents may face challenges with emotional and social caregiving. These parents may lack the ability to share eye contact, respond to social cues, or communicate well with their child. Research has little to say about these potential problems, and for that reason this paper focuses on infant directed speech (IDS), infant directed language (IDL), and singing.
108 • Stance: Studies on the Family The positive effects of infant directed speech (IDS) include better comprehension abilities, linguistic success and even relationship success (Liu, Kuhl, & Tsoa, 2003). A variety of disabilities could impact IDS, from speech impairments to less intuitive responsiveness as a result of psychiatric illness. However, there are many ways parents can accommodate for limited IDS. Adaptations include replacing infant-directed speech with the more inclusive infant-directed language (IDL), such as using high emotional affect, having multiple caregivers, and singing. Using infant directed language (not just speech) involves exaggerated, slow and expressive motions, actions or facial expressions that compensate for speech quality. Infants respond to “motionese,” or slow and deliberate actions, similarly to IDS (Brand, Baldwin &, Ashburn, 2002). This means that parents can effectively connect and interact with their child in non-verbal as well as verbal ways. However, IDL does not compensate for the linguistic gains of IDS, and for this reason it may be necessary to have multiple caregivers (although parents may choose to communicate through sign language instead of spoken language.) This way, infants learn to identify and respond to their speech-impaired caregiver but also have clear exposure to language and phonetic organization. In addition, parents with physical and emotional disabilities can capitalize on the positive effects of singing. Singing to infants, like speaking, tends to have a unique quality. Specifically, infants prefer songs with a higher pitch, lower tempo, and positive feel. (Trainor & Zacharias, 1998; Trehub, et al., 1997). Singing can not only replicate the benefits of IDS but can bond parents with physical or emotional disabilities to their children.
Non-caregiving issues Parents also need to recognize that a disability could affect their child even with high quality caregiving. Two major ways this can happen is through medications and heredity.
Medications. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that new medications do not have information about pregnancy because pregnant women are rarely part of new medication studies. Therefore, it recommends that pregnant women take medications that have been in the
Stance: Studies on the Family • 109 market longer so that they may be more informed of possible teratogenic effects (or, effects harming fetal development). However, these concerns may apply more to over the counter medications and natural supplements, and medications for common disabilities. Mothers with disabilities requiring aggressive medication may not have the option of either resorting to a different medication or lowering their doses. This can cause a great deal of uncertainty; one study estimates that as much as 97% of medications approved by the FDA have not been tested for teratogenic effects (Adam, Polifka, & Friedman, 2011). In cases where a mother must take a certain medication for her health, the CDC says to remain on her current medication, whether for physical or psychiatric disability, unless given alternate instructions by her physician. Additionally the CDC recommends discussing medications with a doctor prior to becoming pregnant, if possible. Following these instructions decreases the risk of exposing fetuses to teratogens and causing damage (“Medications and pregnancy” 2014).
Heredity. Many mothers and fathers with disabilities face whether or not their disability can be genetically passed on. If a disability is genetic and might be passed to children, parents face deciding if they will get pregnant, what signs of disability to look for, and the possibility of child and caregiver disability.
Parents with disabilities have many options and considerations as they decide whether or not to get pregnant. One option parents have is prenatal testing, which determines whether and to what degree a disability is genetic. This may be an important step for couples who do not know the genetic extent of their disability, including individuals without a family or birth history. However, disability rights researchers point out that prenatal testing for disability could undermine a couples right and desire to have a family. They also point out that some proponents of prenatal testing would use it to recommend abortions, which could also impair the couple’s autonomy and mental health (Parens & Asch, 2003). Forms of prenatal testing after conception such as amniocentesis have both risks and benefits. While they can help parents prepare for a recognized disability, they can also put pressure on parents to abort or place their child for adoption. Also, such procedures can actually pose a risk to the mother’s and fetus’ health.
110 • Stance: Studies on the Family For couples who do not choose prenatal testing, there is a great quantity of information available from their healthcare providers and previous research. Researchers found that parents receiving prenatal tests or conferencing with health providers were concerned about several issues, such as whether a genetic condition was treatable, the “likelihood of physical/ cognitive outcomes” (Ormond, Gill, Semik, & Kirschner, 2003, pp. 340), community resources, finances and other issues (Ormond, Gill, Semik, & Kirschner, 2003). Coming to trusted health care providers can help parents make wise and informed decisions about their family and how they will approach pregnancy or a lack of pregnancy. When a disabled adult decides to have a child that is at risk for a disability, the issue of recognizing child disability becomes a high priority. These cues can occur during pregnancy, birth, or infancy. On a basic level, parents can stay more aware by performing regular physician checkups and quickly seeing a doctor after any observed irregularities of the pregnancy, such as pain. Actual indicators of later disability during birth include low birth weight, seizures, or a five-minute APGAR (a newborn health assessment) score of less than five. These neonates are at a high risk for death and for motor disability (Eilenberg & Nelson, 1988). While these symptoms could likely be the result of a difficult pregnancy and not genetic symptoms, they could indicate, exacerbate, or trigger a genetic disability (Lee, 2001). While research is needed on other indicators of disability during birth, parents can discuss their disabilities with physicians in order to look out for symptoms while in the hospital. As with prenatal and natal cues, physicians bear much of the weight of identifying disability, according to researchers. Because of that, parents with genetic disabilities may need to invest in regular child check-ups. These researchers also point out that early recognition and intervention for infants with disabilities helps families care for their disabled infants and helps infants significantly overcome possible limitations (Edwards & Sarwark, 2005).
Disabled parents face a wide variety of concerns and experiences. However, many disabled parents face similar issues of healthcare cooperation, pregnancy concerns, caregiving limitations and the effects of heredity and medications on their child. Each of these issues can significantly affect a
Stance: Studies on the Family • 111 child’s development. For that reason, parents need to make careful decisions and may need to accommodate their roles as parents. Some specific sources of information and help include supportive healthcare professionals, literature on the parent’s disability, and other sources. Parents can also seek social support to help them stay healthy and resourceful as they work towards the best outcomes for their child.
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114 • Stance: Studies on the Family to infants.” Developmental Psychology, 33(3), 500–507. http://dx.doi. org/10.1037/0012-1622.214.171.1240. Walsh-Gallagher, D., Sinclair, M., & McConkie, R. (2012). “The ambiguity of disabled women’s experiences of pregnancy, childbirth and mothering: A phenomenological understanding.” Midwifery, 28(2), 156–162. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2011.01.003.
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