1 minute read


Individual Differences

Individual parents have unique levels of personal resources stemming from cumulative effects of up-bringing, education, employment, and mental health, for instance. Therefore, parents bring themselves to the parenting equation—including their own developmental stage. The lifespan developmental model emerged in the 1970s and is built on the premise that human development is a lifelong process. Parents, therefore, are at a specific point in their own growth as they face their child's continually changing needs. For instance, mothers may be negotiating their own new identity as "homemaker" or "career woman" as they make decisions about bedtimes, child care, or nutrition. Similarly, marriages evolve over time. Marital happiness and stability is a good predictor of parenting quality whether or not parents fight in front of children. Marital discord can be draining emotionally and financially taxing, and may present many unique complications in between. These factors in the socioemotional lives of parents represent very real barometers of what parents have to give to child rearing.

In a similar vein, children bring to the careful dance of child rearing their own individual selves complete with desires, habits, and temperament. Temperament is the biological preparedness infants bring into the world that predisposes them to deal with social, cognitive, and perceptual challenges in particular ways. Children's responses to such challenges play a significant role in adaptation to their environment. During the 1990s there was increasing recognition that children's individual differences in a variety of behaviors shape the way parents respond to children. For instance, infants with difficult temperament are thought to elicit more arousal and distress from caregivers than their less difficult counterparts. Temperamental differences are thought to be modifiable depending on parental personality traits, among other environmental factors.

Additional topics

Social Issues ReferenceChild Development Reference - Vol 6Parenting - Who Is Socializing U.s. Children?, Qualitative Aspects Of Parenting, Parenting Style, Parent-child Interaction - Quantitative Aspects of Parenting