Handbook of Clinical Child Psychology / Edition 2

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Covers normal and abnormal development, assessment and diagnosis, psychopathology (in three sections encompassing infancy, childhood and adolescence) and intervention strategies. A final section examines special topics. Serves as a reference and graduate text on the full range of children's psychological problems. Includes relevant research on each of the topics covered as well as a bibliography and guidelines for practice. Particularly useful for board certification review.

This revised edition of the Handbook of Clinical Child Psychology provides readers with a scholarly review of research on child development and psychopathology, augmented by practical suggestions and advice for clinical pracctice.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is indeed the 'Bible' for clinical child psychologists..it was a pleasure to read and use this handbook." (International Journal of Adolescent Medical Health, 7 December 2001)

"...a superb work-should most certainly be considered for departmental libraries..." (Jnl of Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol 6(4))

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471503613
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/28/1992
  • Series: Wiley Series on Personality Processes Series, #155
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 1168
  • Product dimensions: 7.37 (w) x 10.28 (h) x 2.27 (d)

Table of Contents

Sect. 1 Child Development 1
1 Families and Children in History 3
2 Developmental Models and Clinical Practice 19
3 Developmental Psychology for the Clinical Child Psychologist 33
Sect. 2 Diagnostic Assessment of Children 47
4 Interviewing Strategies in Child Assessment 49
5 Assessing Children Through Interviews and Behavioral Observations 63
6 Assessment of Children's Intelligence 85
7 Clinical Child Psychology and Educational Assessment 101
8 Neuropsychological Assessment of the Child: Myths, Current Status and Future Prospects 133
9 Projective Testing of Children 149
10 Objective Assessment of Children's Behavioral and Emotional Problems 163
Sect. 3 Problems of Early Life 181
11 Prenatal and Genetic Influences Upon Behavior and Development 183
12 Clinical Problems of Birth, the Neonate, and Infant 199
13 Clinical Problems of the Preschool Child 215
Sect. 4 Problems of Childhood 235
14 Fear and Anxiety in Children 237
15 Evaluation and Treatment of Sleep Disorders in Children 261
16 Tics, Habits, and Mannerisms 283
17 Psychosomatic Problems of Children 303
18 Depression and Suicidal Behavior in Preadolescent Children 319
19 Aggressive, Antisocial, and Delinquent Behavior in Childhood and Adolescence 341
20 Neurotic Disorders of Children: Obsessive-Compulsive, Phobic, Conversion, Dissociative, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders 359
21 Autism 375
22 Toileting Problems in Children 399
23 Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder 413
24 Sexual Problems of Children 431
25 Eating Problems in Children 451
26 Mental Retardation 475
27 School Problems of Children 497
28 Learning Disabilities: A Neuropsychological Perspective 511
29 Disorders of Communications: Developmental Language Disorders and Cleft Palate 537
Sect. 5 Problems of Adolescence 553
3O Common Adolescent-Parent Problems 555
31 Emotional Problems of Adolescents: Review of Mood Disorders 565
32 Depression and Suicide in Adolescence 587
33 Development of Problems of Puberty and Sex Roles in Adolescence 607
34 Treatment of Eating Disorders in Adolescents: Research and Recommendations 623
35 School Problems of Adolescents 643
36 Vocational Development: Assessment and Intervention in Adolescent Career Choice 661
37 Adolescent Alcohol and Drug Abuse 677
38 Delinquency and Criminal Behavior 695
Sect. 6 Intervention Strategies 725
39 Parenting: The Child in the Context of the Family 727
40 Behavior Therapy With Children 749
41 Psychotherapy With Children 765
42 Family Psychology and Therapy 783
43 Biofeedback With Children 809
44 Residential and Inpatient Treatment of Emotionally Disturbed Children and Adolescents 829
45 Hospitalization and Medical Care of Children 845
46 Pediatric Psychology: Current Issues and Developments 859
47 Pharmacotherapy 873
Sect. 7 Special Topics 899
48 The Status of Black Children and Adolescents in the Academic Setting: Assessment and Treatment Issues 901
49 Education and Enrichment Approaches 919
50 Sex Education 933
51 Prevention of Disorders in Children 951
52 Child Maltreatment 967
53 The Reactions of Children to Divorce 1009
54 Grief and Loss in Childhood 1025
55 Ethical and Legal Issues in Mental Health Services for Children 1035
56 Forensic Evaluations of Children and Expert Witness Testimony 1057
Author Index 1081
Subject Index 1127
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First Chapter

Families and Children in History


The American family has experienced profound changes in both structure and function during the past three centuries. Throughout history, the family has changed in response to changes in society and, in turn, has influenced society's perceptions of and demands on the family. The unique role of the family as a social unit results from many factors, and the modern family has evolved from earlier forms developed under previous economic and social conditions. The existing social and economic conditions and the prevailing culture and evolving ideology also influence the family continuously.

American society today has many types of families, differing in geographic location, size, ethnic norms, religious orientation, economic status, vocational skills, social class, and lifestyle (Mindel, Habenstein, & Wright, 1998). Moreover, family structures vary greatly in size, lines of authority, rigidity, degree of inclusion of extended kin, roles of family members, child-rearing techniques, and lifestyle (Queen, Habenstein, & Quadagno, 1985). The traditional family unit provides its members with economic status, religious orientation, educational level, sense of identity, and affectional bonds.

Although American families are quite diverse, it is still possible to examine the concept of the family and explore the distinctive characteristics of American families to gain an understanding of how general patterns of family organization and structures have emerged in Western society and how they have changed since the early days of the American colonies. Before considering colonial families, it is helpful to look briefly to their European roots.


The origins of family ideology and institutional practice stretch back to the ancient Greek, Roman, and Judeo-Christian cultures, with their systems of patrilineage, patriarchy, extended kinship, and other forms of affiliative bonds. Father-centered families have dominated Western society for several thousand years. The paterfamilias of the ancient Romans stands as an extreme example of authority vested in the male parent. (For the role of Roman mothers as disciplinarians as well as custodians of Roman culture and traditional morality, see the excellent study by Hallett, 1984). Although the role of the father as absolute head of the family is no longer prevalent in American society, it is still a recognizable cultural model among many ethnic groups. (Mindel et al., 1998)

A pervasive, counterbalancing alternative to the ancient patriarchal, patrilineal family has always existed but has received little historical attention. Trumbach, in his comprehensive and anthropologically sophisticated Rise of the Egalitarian Family (1978), has delineated a constant dialectical opposition in Western society between the patriarchal (male-dominated) and kindred forms of kinship and family organization. "In Western societies," writes Trumbach,

the patriarchal household was one of ancient provenance. It was enshrined in the Odyssey and in the law codes of Exodus and Deuteronomy. Its basic presumption was that at the head of each household stood a man who in his role as master, father, and husband owned his wife, his children, his slaves, his animals, and his land. The authority of master over his household was the model for all dependent relationships, including that of kin and subjects. (p. 3)

In contrast to the system of patrilineage, particularly but not exclusively, barbarian peoples associated with the Dark Ages organized their relations into systems of cognatic kindred:

Each individual... stood at the center of a unique circle of kinsman connected to him through both mother and father and through his spouse. Inheritances were equally divided among all children; the position of women with regard to property and divorce was relatively high; and friendship was a stronger bond than kinship. (p. 14; for a more recent discussion of patriarchal and kindred forms of family organization, see Casey's History of the American Family, 1989; Gottlieb 1993)

Through the later centuries of feudalism, the kindred form of family structure declined and was gradually eclipsed by a growth in the ideal of continuity in family lines and the transfer of property through patrilineal inheritance. Primogeniture (inheritance from the father to the firstborn son) and other special rights accorded to the eldest son, the loss of property rights of women, and the turn to paternal relatives instead of friends relegated kindred to secondary status (Trumbach, 1978).

However, as feudalism gave way to mercantilism, colonization, urbanization, and neoindustrialism, the system of kindred organization with its nonpatriarchal mode of kinship reckoning reemerged in European society and spread to America. Today, for example, the mother's and the father's family lines are bilineally recognized. However, the patronymic (the naming of children through the father's line) remains established for all but the very rich and aristocratic and, since the mid-18th century, family and kinship organization has been oriented more toward males than females. The alternation between kindred and patrilineal family structures, as Trumbach (1978) notes, remains part of the social dynamics of traditional European society.

Whichever family system was currently dominant, it did not operate to the exclusion of the other. Nor did these opposing forms exist in a social vacuum. The simplicity of a patriarchal, patrilineal, primogeniture system of relations and affiliation, which operated to keep property and bloodlines intact, commended it to property-based and agricultural pursuits because it could easily become a building block in larger forms of kinship organizations such as sibs, clans, and even larger societal divisions.

Whether the dominant family form of the times was patriarchal or kindred, the ideal of the large household prevailed from ancient to relatively recent times. It is hardly necessary to point out that some modern religious and ethnic groups, such as Mormons (Shoumatoff, 1985) and Hispanics (Becerra, 1998), still hold tenaciously to the ideal of a large family. Large households through earlier centuries might contain not only many children but also servants, boarders, children from other primary relatives, and members of elder generations (Gottlieb, 1993). The large household could thus function as an economic and protective unit with a ramified division of labor and the potential for survival in troubled and perilous times. The extended family was thus a microcosm of the larger society (Gottlieb, 1993).

Within the large households (and among them, when they were physically close), kinship bonds extended between and across generations. For example, the mother's sister would be available to take charge of the family during the birth of children or during periods of family crisis such as sickness or separation. The maternal aunt has always been a favorite category of kin in Western society. The father's brother by the same token could assist in matters of authority and discipline. Parental siblings have played various roles in the family throughout history, but their role has always been important. The same is true of grandparents.

Although the ideal of large kindreds and households was often approximated, these larger family units always contained a nucleus of husband, wife, and children. This nucleus, when shorn of other kin to form a distinct family unit, has come to be known as the nuclear family. The concept of the nuclear family has caused considerable confusion and argument among those who study the family. Nevertheless, in Western society, this small, tightly knit nucleus of husband, wife, and children has always existed within any larger family unit. The larger unit, with its variety of ascending or cross-generational relatives operating under a set of unifying rules and expectations, has come to be called the extended family.

Some family researchers and scholars have failed to recognize the enduring historical character of the nuclear family. Instead, they have argued that the nuclear family is a product and foundation of capitalism and the Protestant ethic. Without elaboration, a strong argument can be made that capitalism and Protestantism, in conjunction with the Industrial Revolution of late 18th-and early 19th-century industrialism, did not "produce" the nuclear family (Berger & Berger, 1983; Goody, 1983). On the other hand, it can also be reasonably argued that these major social institutions (and others) have definitely influenced the size and functions of the European and, later, the American family.

Max Weber (1958), for example, contends that the nuclear family originated in the decline of Catholicism and the influences of the Protestant Reformation. The change from a primary focus on religion and the rewards to be gained in heaven to a focus on the earthly rewards of economic gain in the present world profoundly affected the family. The Protestant ethic stressed the need for stronger personal and societal concentration of thought and energy on economic production and consumption. Action in the service of the Lord would replace contemplation. Initially, this change of focus reduced the power of the Church to dictate the actions of family members in their daily lives. Patriarchal power and the importance of family lineage were reduced by the desire for individual achievement. Also important were the mass emigrations to the New World and the later movement westward (Weber, 1958).

Another argument comes from Shorter (1975), who has suggested that the increased striving for personal gain and emotional satisfaction during the Industrial Revolution eventually led to the active pursuit of individual gain, enhanced intimacy, and romanticism, which reduced the influence of extended kin on the nuclear family.


NEW ENGLAND (1620-1780)

During the colonial period, the ideal family unit provided the setting for economic, educational, social, recreational, and religious functions (Queen et al., 1985). Most early settlers in the New World were either members of nuclear families or single males. Although most grandparents and older parents did not travel to the New World during its early stages of settlement, the ideal of the extended family was not forgotten. This was true even though the forces for disorder and declension in England, particularly in rural areas in the 17th century, along with the beginnings of an urbanization that would transfer attention away from land ownership and toward the production and marketing of industrial goods, disrupted the traditional patriarchal extended family organization (Greven, 1970; Habenstein, 1998).

Early colonists did not necessarily come from extended families. Even those who did found it difficult to transport such families intact to the New World. If the extended family ideal included cousins, aunts, uncles, affinals, and older generations, such an assemblage would almost never be found living under one roof in colonial New England (Demos, 1970). However, a number of close relatives, including married children, might live very near each other. Usually, a male colonist would acquire a modest holding and, with his wife and children, develop it. The typical New England colonial home was not designed to accommodate a large household with many kin (Demos, 1970). For Middle Atlantic and Southern colonial households, the situation was different, particularly on large plantations (Queen et al., 1985).

Among New England colonists, the husband/ father would assume a patriarchal role, but kindred, including close and supportive friends, were not forgotten. Male children grew up with the expectation that they would some day acquire the entire family homestead or would receive part of the original holding on which to settle and start a new homestead. In earlier colonial New England, family structure was not clear-cut; it incorporated, in order of importance, patriarchal authority, utilization of both family lines to aid in surviving the hardships of settling, friendships, indentured servants, other primary and nonprimary relatives, primogeniture, and the settling of grown children on nearby family land. Generally, families were large only to the extent that there were many children born into them who survived. Through generations, the nuclear family thus remained dominant but was both buttressed and intruded on by close kin living nearby.

The utility of the large family to rural agricultural pursuits is obvious. The many tasks required in farming can be accomplished through a division of labor with important roles for all members, regardless of age or sex. But the physical environment adds a limiting factor. Goldschmidt (1976) points out that the New England colonists in their farming developed a Northern tradition

adapted to the relatively hilly lands of the North; the land was held by the farmer himself who was independent in his operation.... Hard work, ingenuity, and independence were critical features of the morality that developed in this area, a pattern we have come to know as the "Protestant Ethnic." (p. 4)

Incorporated into the new ethic was a dour and somewhat anxiety-ridden religious ideology called Puritanism that emphasized hard work, prudence, avoidance of ritual and display, rigorous caste lines, and repression of emotional display. Nevertheless, companionship was emphasized as one of the primary purposes of marriage, the family itself to be considered a "little commonwealth" (Bremer, 1976, pp. 176-180).

The Puritan religion considered the birth of children to be a "divine obligation" (Bell, 1971), but children were also considered to be an economic asset. The typical family of the 1790s had eight children (Kephart, 1977). In both the isolated Southern farms and the small New England colonies, large families were able to function as quasi-independent economic units. Children provided economic services for the family by farming the land, learning the family trade, making and storing the food, and helping to build the family home. The struggle for existence in early colonial days did not allow for an extended childhood at home.

Child Rearing

Play and amusement were considered sinful pursuits; education in the home often began at 3 or 4 years of age (Calhoun, 1960). Children's books usually consisted of Bible stories or verses such as "The Prodigal Daughter" or "The Disobedient Lady Reclaimed." By 1649, some degree of classroom education was required for boys in every New England colony except for Rhode Island. Schools of this period, in session seven or eight hours a day, were equally strict in discipline and in their reliance on religious psalms and scriptures as major teaching tools. Basic knowledge such as reading and mathematics was supplemented by the teaching of practical skills. Boys were taught farming or were trained in their father's trade. Girls were taught domestic skills (Bremer, 1976).

Religious teaching and worship were home-centered. The early Puritan ideology emphasized the role of the family as guardian of the public as well as the private good (Shorter, 1975). Not only did religion specify the approved relationships among family members and their duties and responsibilities to each other, but it also made it a sacred duty of the patriarch to see that the edicts of the church were carried out in the home and community (Bremer, 1976).

The patriarch was responsible for reading daily scriptures in the home and modeling the ethical and moral standards of the community. He was responsible for setting and enforcing the religious and ethical standards of all family members. The patriarch's role of supreme authority in the home was sanctioned and encouraged by the church (Goodsell, 1934). As the Puritan religion waned in favor of less restrictive religious practices, the church's support of patriarchal dominance lessened.

Nevertheless, obedience to parents, the importance of work, the evils of idleness, and strict adherence to church doctrine were always stressed. The father, as the sole guardian of his family, determined the education, religious training, work apprenticeship, distribution of land, and marriage of his children. Children were viewed as easy prey for the devil. Idleness and play were the "devil's playground." The Puritans viewed children as basically depraved, and this perception made it necessary to seek infantile conversions.

Children were confronted from their earliest years with the terrors of Hell, which they could escape only by following what they were taught and avoiding all pleasures of childhood (Calhoun, 1917). Strict discipline and the use of corporal punishment to "break the child's will" were encouraged (Miller & Swanson, 1958). John Robinson, a Pilgrim teacher, advised parents:

Surely, there is in all children (though not alike) a stubbornness and stoutness of mind arising from natural pride which must in the first place be broken and beaten down that so the foundations of their education being layed in humilitie and tractableness other virtues may in their time be built thereon. (quoted in Earle, 1895, p. 192)

Children had no legal rights, and parents had almost unlimited authority in child rearing and discipline. Children were expected to obey their parents without question. A book of etiquette for children entitled A Pretty Little Pocket Book instructed children never to speak unless spoken to, never to sit at the dinner table until grace had been spoken, and never to dispute with parents or other adults (Goodsell, 1934).

In a 122-page Little Book published in Boston in 1712, Benjamine Wadsworth Trumbull, A. M., pastor of the New England Church of Christ, sought prescriptively to establish the duties of "The Well-Ordered Family." He elaborated in several previously delivered sermons on the duties of husbands and wives, parents and children, as well as masters and servants. Although most of the book is devoted to the husband-wife relationship, the duties of children to their parents consume 10 pages and are subsumed under seven major admonishments: Children should (1) love their parents, (2) fear them, (3) honor them, (4) give diligent heed to their instructions, (5) patiently bear their deserved corrections, (6) obey them, and (7) relieve and maintain them if need requires (Rothman & Rothman, 1972).

Parents had the legal right to punish children severely. Massachusetts and Connecticut had laws that permitted the killing of an "unrully child." The Piscataqua colony passed a law stating, "If any child or children above 16 years of competent understanding, shall curse or smite their natural father or mother, he or they shall be put to death unless it can be sufficiently testified that the parents have been unchristianly negligent of the education of such child" (quoted in Calhoun, 1960, p. 120). Although no record exists of such punishment actually being carried out, parents did use beatings and denial of food as punishment for acts of disobedience (Bell, 1971).

During the colonial period, marriage was considered by the Puritans to be both a spiritual and contractual union. The patriarch of the family arranged the marriages of his children, although the daughter did have the right to refuse the marital agreement. Consensus for marriage was based primarily on the financial ability of the man to support his wife. Love, attraction, and affection were not considered adequate reasons for the arrangement of a marriage.

During the period from colonization to after the American Revolution, the importance of the extended family network increased. The nuclear family of the early colonial days was to some extent replaced or strongly reinforced by the extended family kin network. The extended family provided a strong patriarchal system that encouraged stability, financial interdependence, and the importance of family lineage (Leslie, 1976; Winch, 1952). The status of the extended family stemmed from its land holdings or family enterprise. Membership in a family traditionally defined each member's place in the community. Family membership also defined how far the child would go in school, what trade he or she would learn, whom the child could marry, and where the child would live.


Before dealing with the movement west, it is necessary to add a few paragraphs on the distinctive character of the colonial family of the South. Again, physical environment was a major factor in the development, during that time, of a family type quite different from that of New England. Goldschmidt (1976) has sketched the parameters of the Southern plantation tradition, but Queen et al. (1985) have described the Southern colonial household in some detail:

There were many Cavaliers and few Puritans. Many of the earliest settlers were detached males seeking their fortunes instead of families seeking homes. There was marked stratification, which involved social distance between first families, yeomen, a pioneer fringe of poor whites, indentured servants, and Negro slaves. Gradually there was built up a social system reminiscent of feudalism and chivalry, though actually very different from anything ever developed in Europe. (p. 209)

On the large plantations, each household was a relatively self-sufficient group that produced a large part of its own food, clothing, and other necessities, erected buildings, made tools, trained its children, cared for its sick, dispensed homemade justice, and provided amusement. Southern households were often much larger and more isolated than those of New England.

Women, who through chivalry were put on a pedestal, nevertheless usually occupied an inferior social position. Through the years, primogeniture had come to prevail, and females were limited in inheritance of land and property. The eldest son would almost always inherit the manor house and principal lands. Thus, lands were kept in the same male line for many generations. The Virginia Gazette in 1737 advised women for the "advancement of matrimonial felicity" never to dispute with their husbands under any circumstances. Generally, it was believed that the husband should guide, defend, and provide for the wife, and she was expected to serve him in subjection, be modest in speech and dress, and be a good housewife. It was held that "while marriage was for man a pleasant duty, it was woman's reason for existence" (Spruill, 1938, p. 318). Women were expected to be chaste before marriage and observe marital fidelity afterward. Males were relatively free to exploit both Black and White females sexually.

As in New England, marital selection involved both romantic and practical considerations. Both men and women married at an early age. Courtship with parental consent preceded marriage, but considerations of economic and social status were more important than romantic love as the chief bases for marriage.

Child Rearing

Children in the Southern colonies grew up under varying circumstances, depending on the social class into which they were born (Morgan, 1952). The children of the well-to-do enjoyed comforts provided by nurses, tutors, and governesses; farmer's children were cared for chiefly by their own mothers, but very early, they began to assume responsibilities and to share the work of house, barn, and field. Finally, children of indentured servants and slaves received haphazard attention and were soon incorporated into the workforce.

Birth and death rates both were consistently high. Formal education for children who survived, with the exception of those in upper classes, was limited. There were far fewer schools in the South than in New England, and it is said that only three White men out of five could spell their own name (Morgan, 1952). Again, in matters of religion, the New England families were more active than the Southern families. But in both the North and the South, marriages were encouraged or almost demanded of single persons, and the expectation of a large family was universal in all colonies. The affectional functions would be underplayed publicly, whether involving children, juveniles, or adults. Queen et al. (1985) summarize:

In general it is correct to say that the (colonial) family was a much more important institution in colonial times than today. Its functions were much more inclusive, almost everyone was a member of some family group, and there were fewer agencies to threaten the family's hold on its members. (p. 216)

1780 TO 1880

The mass movement of the population westward across the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi and later to the Pacific Ocean created a major shift in both the functions and organization of the family. Again, nuclear families and single men moved, and the elderly were left behind. Migration created major structural changes in the family system. Throughout history, patriarchal societies are associated with nonmobile extended family units and usually with large households. As young families broke economic and sentimental ties to their parental families, patriarchal control declined.

Children growing up on the frontier might never experience the direct authority of a grandparent and in turn would not learn to expect great control over their own grandchildren. The father continued to be the final authority in the frontier family, but isolation and the struggle for survival led to the wife's acquiring more responsibility and authority in the family. This relationship led to an increased democratization of the family. Changes were made in the laws of inheritance of land and transmission of the family business. No longer were the family lands held intact for future generations. When young adults left the families on the East Coast, the landholdings to which extended and nuclear patriarchal families traditionally had been tied were often sold. The democratic ideology of the new nation demanded an equal distribution of the land among all children, including the females.

The loss of patriarchal power and the breakup of landholdings also led to basic changes in family structure. Family functions also changed, and family status no longer defined the economic, educational, or social limits of the children. Young adults were less restricted in their choice of education, schooling, trade, landholding, and marriage. Fathers no longer arranged marriages, although parental approval of a fiancé's economic abilities might still be a major factor in a marriage. The patriarchal family embedded in a cluster of extended kin living neolocally changed, and in its place emerged a conjugal family system without strong tradition or economic and sentimental ties to the extended kin. Kin were not abandoned, but they were often left behind.

Although the westward movement of young families created a period of loss of kinship and extended family networks, the following generations of pioneers often settled down in small agricultural communities to create a new, perhaps modified, extended kinship network. The new network of kin functioned primarily as a support system. The tradition of powerful patriarchal dominance did not exist even though the patriarchal role might have had strong appeal to males. Another consequence of the pioneer movement westward was the loss of formal education in schools and a return to education in the family homes. The education of children continued to be in the home or in small schools over which parents retained considerable control. Religious practices also remained in the home or small community church.

Child Rearing

The movement westward also changed child-rearing practices. There was a decline in the practice of "breaking the child's will" (Miller & Swanson, 1958). Use of corporal punishment began to lessen. Etiquette on the frontier changed; children no longer remained silent during meals; they talked more freely with parents and had more freedom to express their opinions. In general, arbitrary patriarchal or parental authority diminished. Children were expected to be working members of the family. Work and home life were one and the same. Adolescence was not a unique stage of development during this period. Young adults contributed to the family work. When they married, the new couple usually moved onto land of their own or onto a nearby piece of parental land. With the loss of patriarchal authority and the emergence of conjugal, more democratic families, independence and self-reliance were most often stressed as important qualities to instill in frontier children.


One of the most dramatic changes in the American family occurred during the Industrial Revolution. Prior to the 1800s, the largest "immigration" was of 10 to 20 million Black slaves primarily into the Southern states. The ethnic composition of the immigrants changed, as did the character of the country's economy. The great influx of Southern, Eastern, and Central European immigrants, mostly of peasant stock, coincided with the rapid surge of industrial and urban growth in America. No longer needed to build the railroads or settle the virgin land of the western states, the new arrivals--Bohemians, Slovaks, Poles, Russians, Russian-Polish Jews, Czechs, and Italians--were directed to the factories and sweatshops of America's slum-ridden cities (Feldstein & Costello, 1974). This large population influx into the cities of America created one of the most dramatic periods of change in the society as well as the family.


Prior to the early 1800s, the economy was primarily agricultural, and the farm family was a fairly self-sufficient unit. The development of an industrial society dramatically altered many of the traditional family functions. Production of goods and services, for example, was removed from the home. Children were less likely to participate in the family economy of farming or a family trade. Business and industry became structural units outside the home. There was a continual reduction in homemaking activities, and the home became increasingly separate from the workplace. Movement to the cities created a family within which children, for the first time, became an economic liability instead of an economic function. Poor children working in the factories provided some economic contribution to the family but were often a net liability. An interesting development of this era was that children's work was often separated from the previous family work system. A new extension of the kindred principle appeared for the first time when the children and adolescents had the opportunity to form numerous contacts with other children their age. This was the beginning of age-separate functions for adolescents.

The protective functions of the agricultural family included the promise of economic security from childhood to old age. Movement to the cities again was a movement of the young or the nuclear families; the older generations were usually left behind. The industrialization of the country lessened the responsibility and commitment to care for previous generations.

The religious functions of the family during the period of industrialization also witnessed a shift in emphasis. Religious dicta of the agricultural family stressed the family as a religious unit with the father as the head of the family. The family was primarily responsible for the ethical standards of its members. Family prayers and Bible readings were common customs. The advent of the movement to the cities reduced the family's religious functions as large churches and Sunday schools began to assume primary responsibility for religious training to the children and the setting of ethical standards for the community.

The period of rapid change affected the status-conferring functions of the family. In an agricultural community, the family directly participated in defining each member's role in the community. Boys usually followed in their father's occupational footsteps, and girls were expected to become housewives and mothers. Children grew up and usually married within their social class; often, they stayed in the same town as their parents. Industrialization changed the traditions of the family and the family's ability to define the child's occupation within the community. Industrialization not only brought adults to urban areas but offered them the opportunity to "further or better their parents' place in society" (Mead, 1976). Worth began to be defined in terms of the amount of money a person made.

For the first time, women entered the marketplace in large numbers. The previous roles of mother and housewife were expanded. The added cost of child care and the crowding of families into tenement houses created conditions in which the limiting of the number of children in a family was desirable. Women gained the right to own their own property and to enter into contracts. Unmarried women were now able to leave home and live independently. As noted previously, Shorter (1975) has suggested that the most dramatic changes in the family had their seeds in the period of industrialization and the emergence of capitalism. Previously, unmarried women stayed in the family home and were able to move out only at the time of marriage. Now, the ability to obtain a job for the first time freed women from the family and allowed them an increased opportunity to choose a marriage partner on the basis of emotional needs instead of financial ability. Shorter further suggests that the shift from economic to emotional needs as a basis for marriage initially led to the decrease in extended kinship control and eventually to the increases in the divorce rate of the 20th century.

The increased wealth of families, accompanied by improved health care, allowed more children to live and allowed mothers to spend more time in child rearing and building emotional attachments to children within the family. The strengthened attachment of mother and child led to an increased sense of nuclear family solidarity and the beginning withdrawal of the family unit from the community.

Education prior to industrialization took place in the home or small school. The advent of large urban areas created two major changes. First, children of lower-income families were forced to work in factories. Previously, these children had learned a trade within the family or worked the family farm; now, children from poor families were separated from family production and interaction with other family members. Second, public education in large cities further diluted parental involvement in the teaching of their children. State and federal government agencies increasingly assumed this function.


19th-Century Victorianism

As the younger more adventurous segment of American society pushed westward, the burgeoning populace of those remaining in growing urban centers and in established villages and farms were subject to an ideology that had emerged from middle-class England: Victorianism.

Victorianism in the United States presumed a set of ideas and values suitable for guiding the behavior of Americans in all walks of life. Civility, good manners, respect for convention, rational thought and circumspection in dealing with matters large and small would produce a valued end product: the man or woman of character. Further, the social institution par excellence to instill such character could only be the family, within which one first learned the moral, religious, ethical, and social precepts of good citizenship. (Queen et al., 1985, p. 94).

We can only look to this period of changing values and practices for their relevance to child rearing, but it might be pointed out that whatever the changing definition of adult behavior (character and morality based in common religious beliefs), considerable leeway was allowed on the part of husbands.

Childhood, Adolescence, and Victorianism

During the last two-thirds of the nineteenth century, childhood and adolescence began to be viewed as distinctly different periods of development. For the first time, children were no longer considered to be miniature adults. Demos and Demos (1969) identify the early period as the beginning of "child-centered families." After 1825, child-rearing books by American authors began to appear, and many sold thousands of copies. Magazines such as Mother's Magazine and Mother's Assistant were specifically addressed to child care and child-rearing issues (Demos & Demos, 1969). The popularity of these magazines and books indicated society's increased interest in the child and recognition of the importance of child rearing. Changes in the family structure during the 19th century were met with considerable anxiety about the quality of American family life (Wishy, 1968). Child-rearing books stressed the importance of parental authority, the need for strict discipline in early childhood, and the maintenance of this authority throughout the formative years.

As late as midcentury, Bulkeley (1858) advised parents that even the smallest infant reveals a "willfulness that springs from a depraved nature and is intensely selfish." Parents were warned that, if strict discipline was not instituted and maintained, the child would quickly become uncontrollable and would suffer permanent damage. The author appeared to believe that parents were rapidly losing all control and authority over their children and predicted dire consequences if this trend continued. Parents were strongly advised not to "show off " their children to guests because this would create a conceited and selfish child (Child, 1835).

The concept of adolescence began to emerge during this period. The separation of generations, as seen in the "new custom" of holding parties exclusively for young people, was viewed as an alarming development that would endanger the unity of the family if it were to continue (Child, 1835). By 1900, writings on youth gangs, juvenile delinquency, and vocational guidance indicated that society was beginning to recognize and attempt to deal with adolescence as a special period of child development (Demos & Demos, 1969).

G. Stanley Hall, a leader in the child study movement in the late 19th century, was the first to write about adolescence as a separate stage of child development. Hall (1882) published a paper entitled "The Moral and Religious Training of Children" and later Adolescence: Its Psychology, and Its Relations to Physiology, Anthropology, Sociology, Sex, Crime, Religion, and Education (1904). These works were the first to describe the "storm and stress" of adolescence. Hall's theory postulated that each individual "lives through each of the major steps in the evolution of the race as a whole" (1904). Adolescence was viewed as a time of great change and confusion. Hall's writings had a profound effect on psychology (Angell, 1904), education (Betts, 1906), child rearing (McKeever, 1913), child labor laws, vocational guidance (Mangold, 1910), and religious training. Adolescence as a separate stage of development was accepted, and the rudimentary beginnings of a youth culture were beginning to be recognized. After 1925, Hall's theories of adolescence were discarded. Judd (1915), King (1903), Mead (1928), and Thorndike (1908) claimed that Hall's theories were too tied to set stages, overemphasized physiological functions, and ignored cultural determinants. Nevertheless, adolescence continued to be recognized and studied as a stage in child development.


Perhaps a milestone in the changing attitude toward child care occurred in 1914, when the federal government first published Infant Care, a booklet on child rearing for parents. This booklet has been repeatedly revised over the years and provides an interesting indication of the changes in child rearing from 1914 to the present. From 1914 to 1921, parents were warned of the great potential harm in allowing children to act on their autoerotic impulses. Thumb sucking and masturbation were to be promptly and rigorously stopped; otherwise, it was suggested, these behaviors would "grow" beyond control and permanently damage the child. The child was to be bound both hand and foot to the crib so that he or she would not be able to thumb suck, masturbate, or rub his or her thighs together.

During the period from 1929 to 1938, there was a shift in emphasis. Autoeroticism was considered less of a problem. Regularity in daily living was most important, and strict, early toilet training was stressed. Children were to be fed, weaned, toilet trained, and put to bed on a strict schedule and with firmness. Parents were warned not to yield to the "baby's resistance." A major danger in child rearing was allowing the child to dominate the parents.

Between 1942 and 1945, the watchword was non-interference. Children were viewed as devoid of sexual impulses. Parents were to be "mild" and not to interfere with children's thumb sucking or masturbation. Weaning and toilet training were started later, and punishment for failure was less severe than suggested in earlier editions.

By 1951, there was still the suggestion of mildness in the role of parents. Yet, concerns that had been expressed in 1929 that the child would dominate the parents were once again expressed. Parents were cautioned not to pick up the baby every time he or she cried because this could eventually lead to the child's becoming a tyrant.

During the 1960s, child-rearing guides stressed leniency, recognition of developmental readiness, and the use of positive reinforcement of appropriate behaviors. During the late 1970s and 1980s, some child-rearing books began to focus on teaching reading, language, and math concepts to pre-school children. The "fast track" babies and toddlers were rushed from gymnastics, swimming, and foreign language lessons to flash card reading periods. Many child development specialists began to warn of the danger of pushing young children too fast and potentially creating anxious and unhappy youngsters who would be burned out on learning by grade school.

Starting in the 1960s and continuing through the 1990s, an enormous popular literature on child care came into existence. Parents could pick and choose the philosophy of and prescription for child care that suited their own preconceptions. Books have ranged from how to raise children in a fundamentalist Christian family (i. e., Dobson, 1982), in which the use of spankings and strong parental authority are recommended as the best way to raise children, to the final edition of Baby and Child Care (1997), in which Benjamin Spock continued to encourage parents to trust in themselves and to be consistent in their rules of parenting. In the 1980s, Terry Brazelton, a pediatrician, became well-known for his supportive and caring style with parents and children. Brazelton, focusing on the parent-child relationship, encouraged parents to understand their child's behavior in terms of the child's developmental stage. The child's behavior was seen as a means of communication about how he or she experiences the world. Parents were asked to take on the role of helping the child to express feelings and learn to cope with normal experiences of childhood such as anxiety, jealousy, and frustration. David Elkind's writings about the developmental stage of adolescence continued to impact the child/adolescent developmental psychologist's research and writings.

Additionally, many child-rearing books in the 1980s and 1990s began to focus on shared parenting and the importance of the father in the child's and adolescent's life. Vastly discrepant groups have supported the importance of the father in the home. The Promise Keepers, a fundamentalist Christian group, encourages fathers to take their "rightful place" as the head of the household and family caretaker. Psychologists and child development experts have encouraged fathers to become more involved in the daily parenting of the infant and child to avoid problems in adolescence. Research and clinical cases have focused on fathers as playing a pivotal role in preventing problems ranging from anorexia to depression, suicide, pregnancy, violence, and drug use. Fathers are encouraged to become more emotionally expressive with their children and to learn to be an active and involved parent in the traditional nuclear family or in the divorced and in blended family settings.

A survey commissioned by the National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse (Lung & Daro, 1996) found less than half of all American parents report that they use spankings as a mode of child management. Yet, at the other end of the spectrum, one million children were victims of substantiated abuse and neglect, and 996 children were killed as a result of abuse and neglect (Lung & Daro, 1996). The Department of Health and Human Services estimates from the Third National Incidence Study on Child Abuse and Neglect (Lung & Daro, 1996) that 2. 8 million children were considered at risk for abuse and neglect in 1994. This figure is double the number of children considered to be at risk from the prior survey in 1988. The link between substance abuse and child abuse has strengthened over the years. It is estimated that about 9 to 10 million children under the age of 18 are directly affected by substance-abusing parents (Woodside, 1988). Lung and Daro report that in 15 states, on average 40% of the substantiated child abuse cases involved substance-abusing parents.


The fifth consecutive year of overall decline in the birthrate was marked in 1995, when the birthrate was 11% lower than in 1990. The decline is due to the lower number of births to women in their twenties (Ventura, Martin, Curtin, & Mathews, 1998). Although almost one million teens become pregnant each year, the 1995 birth records indicate an overall 4% decline in the birthrates for teens (Henshaw, 1997; Ventura et al., 1998). Black teens had the largest decline (8%) in births. But, overall, 22% of Black teens get pregnant each year as compared to 9% of White and 18% of all Hispanic teens. Teen pregnancies often result in single-parent, low-income families (Maynard, 1996).


Couples marrying today have about a 50% chance of getting a divorce over their lifetime. Divorce was at its highest peak in 1979, at which time 53% of people obtained a divorce. Divorce has steadily declined since that time. In 1996, the annual divorce rate was 43% (U. S. National Center for Health Statistics, 1997). The divorce rate in 1996 marks a 20-year low. One important reason for the lower divorce rate is that while marriages have declined over the past decade, there has also been a rise in the number of never-married parents. In 1996, children are just as likely to be living with a single never-married parent as with a single divorced parent. Overall, only 68% of all children under the age of 18 live in the traditional two-parent nuclear family. White children more often live with two parents (75%) than Hispanic (62%) or Black (33%) children (U. S. National Center for Health Statistics, 1997).

An interesting trend over the past two decades is the delaying of the first marriage. Men are marrying at the average age of 26.7 years and women at 24.5 years (U. S. Bureau of the Census, 1998). Many of these young men and women may be the products of divorced families. The delay in the age of marriage and the number of never-married parents may reflect the concerns of making a lifelong commitment to a spouse or a desire to avoid an early marriage and subsequent divorce.

The role of social scientists in the field of child development, with its child-rearing issues, is assumed to be one of leadership and guidance. Our brief historical review of child-rearing literature suggests that, on the contrary, social scientists have often mirrored or fostered society's current beliefs and perceptions concerning children's roles and functions in the family.


In the past 50 years, an efflorescence of writings has addressed the changing character and fortune of the American family. The litany of changes is extensive: reduction in family size, sloughing off of extended kin, increased geographic mobility, increasing urbanity, declining community awareness and participation, individualism of family members replacing familism, weakening of traditional roles, impacting class and status systems, economic insecurity related to business cycles, and the inexorable process of shifting traditional family functions toward corporate structures and rationally designed organizations such as schools, churches, businesses, corporations, government agencies, commercialized entertainment and recreation, transportation systems, communications systems, and the like. Traditional functions--protective, economic, religious, educational, status-giving, recreational, and affectional-- all of which bound the family together as a major societal entity, were either losing strength or had lost the battle during this era.


During the first decade of the 20th century, America was receiving 600,000 to 700,000 legal immigrants a year, mostly from eastern and southeastern Europe. The influx from western and northern Europe continued but at a slower pace. The country's industrial pool was nearly overflowing, especially since great numbers of Black migrants had moved from the rural South to northern industrial centers.

The "yellow peril" of Chinese immigrants had been stopped abruptly by federal law in 1882, and popular attention turned toward a new threat, Bolshevism, which appeared to be spreading from Russia to all Western countries, and, because the lair of "bomb-throwing anarchists" was thought to be found among Jews and eastern European immigrants (Shillony, 1991), popular opinion strongly supported the Immigration Acts of 1921 and 1924. Grounded in notions of Nordic supremacy, these laws effectively cut off immigration from all but northwestern European countries for more than 40 years.

A change in public opinion after World War II led, finally, to a revision of these acts. Mindel, Habenstein, and Wright wrote:

When the 1921 and 1924 Immigration and Nationality Acts were ultimately amended in 1965, many of the more egregious biases were eliminated, quotas were now distributed evenly across countries, and first preference was given to persons wishing to be re-united with their families (although the preference was not extended to Mexico until 1976). In addition, political exceptions were made for Cuba (over 600,000 between 1960 and 1990), Vietnam and Southeast Asian countries (over 600,000 from 1975 to 1990), and Soviet Jews (approximately 150,000). There have also been 150,000 additional refugees from such other countries as Poland, Romania, Iran, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia from 1981 through 1990.

Since 1960 almost 20 million people have legally emigrated to the United States, and an additional 3 to 5 million (in 1995) are estimated to be in the country illegally. Experts estimate the rate of illegal immigration to be about 250,000 to 300,000 per year. (1998, pp. 2-3)

Estimates for total numbers of legal and illegal immigrants, those outstaying their visas, migratory workers who decide to stay in t he United States and others in detention vary widely. Immigration writer Roy Beck (1996) suggests the top figure for the mid-1990s of a million a year. Beck follows the contention of economist George Borjas (1994) that a direct relationship exists between a large inflow of unskilled, poorly educated immigrants and a transfer of wealth to the top realm of America's occupational hierarchy. Bluntly put, at the bottom of the occupational pyramid the poorest get poorer and at the top the rich get richer. (See also Reich, 1991.) For a rejection of the Borjas contention, see the excellent Strangers among Us by journalist Roberto Suro (1998).

On the other hand, writers such as Sanford J. Ungar have been less interested in the impact of numbers of immigrants than in the positive value of ethnicity of the newcomers, who, in his words, contribute positively to a "benign multiculturalism" (1995, p. 21). Whatever the consequences, and there seem to be many, the last third of the 20th century has seen America leading the world in accepting, for diverse and most often political reasons, immigrants from nearly all parts of the globe.

In the last third of the 20th century, no set of social problems has loomed so important yet so vexingly beclouded by personal, group, regional, and economic interests as the great inflowing of immigrants across the country's borders. Central to nearly all immigration problems is the consequences of what can be called "the family connection." It is almost impossible to talk about immigrants without taking into account nuclear and extended family involvements and their life courses as immigrants search in America for a better world, however sentimentally attached they remain to the one left behind.


We will consider four major ethnic groups demographically, and then turn to one, Latinos, for critical aspects of their community life.


Under the new census category of People of Hispanic Origin, immigrants and descendants (some from many generations back) from the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America are exhibiting dramatic growth in America. This is particularly true for a number of states: those with the largest Hispanic population in 1990 include California, 7.7 million; Texas, 4.3 million; New York, 2.2 million; Florida, 1.6 million; Illinois, 0.9 million; as well as large numbers in other states, mostly in the West and Southwest (Wright, 1998, p. 274).

The majority are Mexicans, who make up 64.1% of the total Hispanic population. Florida is the magnet state for Central Americans, and New York has an imposing number of Puerto Ricans. All major cities have Hispanic enclaves; those in southern California and Texas are expanding rapidly, as are cities in Arizona and New Mexico. In the decade 1980 to 1990, metropolitan areas including Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Washington, D. C. have had Hispanic increases of 71 to 137%! (Wright, 1998, p. 271).

Asian and Pacific Islander

Far fewer in numbers, with only 2.9% of the U. S. population made up of Asian and Pacific Islanders, these immigrants represent a wide variety of race and ethnic character and of reasons for their entry by the tens of thousands since the end of the war in Vietnam. Refugees came from that country and Cambodia. Business-oriented Koreans, who no longer enter as refugees, but reversing the "yellow peril" appellation, have been welcomed and will soon approach .5 million in number. Chinese and Japanese usually come with a middle-class education and a strong spirit of enterprise, both business and educational. Asian Indians are usually fluent in English and well prepared in business, educational, and technical enterprises. All in all, the arrival of such great numbers of Asian immigrants, literally millions (not all legal by far) during 1975 to 1990, has caused a notable change in population. It has also increased technical and business competition, in California particularly, and to a lesser degree elsewhere in the United States, especially in major cities.

American Indian, Eskimo, and Aleut

About 1,875,000 American Indians and 86,000 Eskimos and Aleuts were living in America in 1990 (Wright, 1998, p. 274). Their increase over the past two decades has been significant, as only 524,000 Indians and 42,000 Alaskan Natives were counted in 1960. Most American Indians live in the southwestern states, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, with less than one fifth living mostly on the 314 reservations scattered across these states (and a few in the north central, New England, and south Atlantic regions). Of all current developments among American Natives, gambling casinos are a vigorous new enterprise for people always characterized as being of the land.


As is well-known to every grade schooler, African Americans first came to America in a Dutch ship in 1619 as slaves, considered as chattel, subhuman, and excluded from the (White) world of Christianity. Their intrinsic value was gauged in term of their utility. Nearly 400 years later, slavery is a dim historical recollection, but African ancestry remains as viable a concern as does the "Auld sod" for American Irish whose ancestors came to this country during Ireland's potato famines of a century and half ago.

Today, we have the terms "Blacks" (used by the U. S. Bureau of Census), "persons of color" (used by today's social scientists), and "Afro-Americans," now popular with journalists and a majority of persons whose ancestors came from Africa. The Afro-American population today represents a continuous growth through the centuries and has risen to 33.9 million in 1996, an estimated 12.8% of Americans-- by far the nation's largest minority group (Wright, 1998, p. 268).

Blacks will continue to increase faster than Whites, with a younger median age of 29.5, which is more than six years below the White median age of 35.7. The Black concentration in cities and the White flight to the suburbs has left many center-city areas with a dominant Black population. Percentages of Blacks in major cities vary but are impressive: by number, New York has (in 1990) 7,323,000; Los Angeles, 3,485,400; Chicago, 2,783,700; Philadelphia, 1,585,600; and Houston, 1,630,600. These are the top six, with a dozen or more cities with an average of .5 million Blacks within city limits. In percentage of total population, the first six are Detroit (76%); Atlanta (67%); Washington, D. C. (66%); Birmingham, Alabama (63%); New Orleans, (62%); and Baltimore (59%) (Wright, 1998, p. 272).

Although the Afro-American population continues to grow faster than the White, in the next 15 years the largest minority group in the United States will be people of Hispanic ancestry. Hispanics will number 39 million in 2010, according to Census Bureau projections, compared to 38 million Blacks (Wright, 1998, p. 272).


In the previously mentioned Strangers among Us (1998), Roberto Suro finds generalities and significant differences among the Latinos (his term) who have streamed into the United States for generations, sharing different fates as they follow different migration channels and build their own ethnic communities or "barrios." In contrast with immigrants from India, for example, Latinos are unlikely to be proficient in English, and for the most part those who have emigrated to this country in the past two decades are woefully short on work skills (Reich, 1991).

Yet, Latinos are traditionally work-oriented, looking for and accepting jobs even if it is necessary for them to start at the bottom of the occupational ladder. Nor in the barrios, as in Black ghettos, is there a constant grinding down of self-respect. For Latinos, the alternative to an unsuccessful existence is at the worst a return to their homeland. For Afro-Americans, Haitians, and other Caribbean Blacks, this option may not be very realistic. If Afro-Americans find their fates in urban ghettos, Haitians might find theirs in work camps and shanty towns, relieved only by transiency. Obviously, color matters, but most Hispanics in this respect slip under the door.

Within the barrios of major American cities, the large, extended, father-dominated, mother-adored, and kinship-oriented family may still be found. But this type of family, though remaining respected, even revered in worship, is undergoing significant changes. Looking beyond simple growth patterns of Hispanic people in the United States, we should become aware of the surging character of their migratory movements and the startling social and personal consequences of the changing relationships between older and younger generations.

However, as noted, intense immigration in short periods carries with it the incipient danger of separation of newcomers and older, established residents. The hiatus usually runs along generational lines, with the young arrivals and barrio-born youth facing difficulty finding jobs, if only as casual laborers. An alternative to low-paid and part-time work is to join street gangs and, absorbing gang culture, finding a new social reality in the street world. It is unnecessary to point out that this alternative can only lead to family stress and dysfunction.

Suro (1998, pp. 31-55) gives a rather startling account of youth of Mayan descent in the Houston barrio rejecting the industry of their parents, who often hold two jobs at the same time to create successful ongoing families. Dismissing school and industry, the Mayan youth preferred moving away from parents and family life into the highly organized, more exciting street gang culture. Drug selling, particularly of crack, a cheaply made cocaine derivative, however dangerous, becomes the enterprise of choice with indubitable monetary reward. Better to push drugs than peddlers' carts! (See also William Finnegan, Cold New World, 1998.)

A final blow to the ha rd-working Hispanic-grounded culture of the parents is to find their daughters also participating in street gang culture, dismissive of parental rules and expectations, and often bringing adolescence to a quick halt with teenage single motherhood. Discouragement in older generations often leads to a grudging re-assessment of barrio life in el norte, fol lowed by plans for a return to a less productive but much less disturbing life in their homeland (Suro, 1998, pp. 50-55). The social problems, particularly illegal and dangerous activities, associated with the sudden filling of the barrio with the young and unskilled is not only intensely disturbing to its good citizens but, in the minds of Americans everywhere, a threat to urban society itself, with stricter laws and law enforcement as the solution of choice.



Distinguishable by language and/ or accent, values, folkways, mores, art and artifact, and by awareness of their particular history, ethnic groups are as common in the world as are people. Assimilation, however, is a hit-or-miss process as ethnicity provides so much of one's identity.

The search in America for one superidentity reached its height in the very early part of the 20th century and was expressed in a nationwide effort toward "Americanization" (Ross, 1914). Now at the turn of the century, a true and all-encompassing American identity has pretty much been replaced by the social science concept of "ethnic diversity" or "multiculturalism," and, often by journalists, of the "salad bowl."

Still, exchanging one's ethnic identity for "American" shows up in about 5% of the answers to the census question on race or nationality, and undoubtedly to most citizens, "American" does have an important identity reference beyond the right to vote. It is in the context of family life that ethnicity becomes a cultural impress or template, with its rules and expectations, and within each family, through the interaction of its members over time, the emergence of a body of informal practices that assure the continuation of this indispensable societal entity.

Ethnic Density and Disassimilation

The flip side of ethnic diversity lies in the anxiety to hold onto old customs rather than to accept and observe the new. Writes Sanford J. Ungar (1995):

[Immigrants] may choose to remain quietly apart from the crowd, to resist being smothered by the materialism and high tech consumerism they see on television and their children bring home from school. Often this means they continue to speak the language they brought with them and make a special effort to pass it on to their children and grandchildren. (p. 20)

This is more likely to be true today in urban areas where ethnic enclaves have reached critical mass and where, to post a poor pun, English is no longer the lingua franca. For example, in one large Catholic church in Anaheim, California, masses are said on Sundays at three different times in English, Vietnamese, and Spanish.

Quite obviously, it is important when planning educational programs to take language spoken at home into account. In the 1990 Census, about a third of all people of Hispanic heritage admitted to speaking English poorly or not at all. Language skills are obviously as important in achieving social and occupational mobility as are work skills.

Yet, the picture of cultural change is highly complicated. In laying out a course of analysis, sociology professor H. L. H. Kitano (cited in Mindel et al., 1998) uses as an example the course of three generations of Japanese in America. Whereas no first-generation member could or would speak English as immigrants, the third generation today is almost totally absorbed into and makes exceptional contributions to the culture and prospects of America (p. 34). Kitano proposes a number of categories for analyzing ethnic family change: (1) freedom of choice of spouse, along with the concept of romantic love; (2) priority placed on conjugal bonds over filial bonds; (3) greater equality of the sexes; (4) more flexibility in sex roles; and (5) higher emotional intensity, with emphasis on sexual, romantic attraction, and consequently greater instability and verbal communication between spouses (p. 34).


As the new century begins, questions are being raised about family kinships and ethnic cultural levels to take into account broad-range social, political, and economic movements currently taking place on a global scale. But, given restrictions on space, we can only call attention to this ever-growing level of social reality. With virtually instant global communications and the dynamics of the production of worldly goods, the rapacious quality of trade agreements, and the cost of labor becoming the central factor in corporate business, it is difficult to locate and assess the residual power of the individual, and his or her ethnic connection, facing this deus ex machina (Greider, 1997).

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