Ordinary Families?

Learning about families and parenting from normative studies

Paperback / softback, 30 pages, 210 mm x 148 mm
1 Nov 2008
Institute of Education

Price: £5.00

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'Given the opportunity, everyone has an interesting story to tell.' Drawing on the stories told by 'ordinary' parents and children in order to learn more about how families function, Professor Smith illustrates how studies of representative samples of families, or normative studies, offer the potential to investigate family impacts and influences on children who are not flourishing. She uses several studies to illustrate the value of normative studies, for example investigations into children's normal experience of minor injuries and into the nature and extent of physical punishment in the home which both provided baseline data to help clarify aspects of child abuse. Family studies has methodological, practical and therapeutic, and policy significance. The studies described in this lecture feature multiple informants and self-versus-partner accounts of parenting behaviour; concordances in parenting behaviour; and the importance of the quality of relationships within the household. The lecture concludes with some comments on access to families, ethics, and the future of normative studies.

  • Marjorie Smith

    Professor of the Psychology of the Family and Co-Director of the Thomas Coram Research Unit

    Institute of Education, University of London