Parent-Child Relations: An Introduction to Parenting / Edition 9

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Now in the Ninth Edition, Jerry Bigner’s Parent-Child Relations, the classic resource for child development professionals and parents themselves, has undergone a thorough revision anchored by the vision of the late Dr. Bigner and executed by new co-author, Clara Gerhardt.Maintaining its fundamental structure and unique approach, the text uses family systems and systemic family development theory as a framework to explore how parent-child relations change in tandem with developmental changes occurring with children, adults, and the wider family system. Thoughtful updates and revisions were done to increase the effectiveness and currency of the text. The text continues to provide strong emphasis on various theoretical and practical models pertaining to parenting.

For decades now, this classic text has prepared countless teachers and practitioners by its proven and practical approach, utilizing family systems and systemic family development theory to explore how parent-child relations change in tandem with developmental changes occurring with children, adults, and the wider family system. The most comprehensive and current resource available to students as they prepare for working with parents and families, and for their roles as parents themselves, this best-selling resource carries on the essential message of its originator, Dr. Jerry Bigner, and will continue to nurture future family scholars and practitioners for years to come.

Covers developmental interaction/single-parents/ stepfamilies/adolescent parents/child abuse/adoption/etc.

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Editorial Reviews

This introductory textbook on parenting outlines the roles of parents, discusses developmental interaction, and identifies the challenges to contemporary parenting. Specific chapters discuss the ethnic diversity of contemporary families, parenting strategies, theoretical perspectives, the various stages of childhood, and different family systems. Among the challenges discussed are adoption, homosexuality, and children with special needs. Bigner teaches human development and family studies at Colorado State University. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
From the Publisher
"The whole text does a nice job of balancing breadth and depth. It appears to stand above several other texts in the field in its conciseness, development of critical issues, and up-to-date research. It is interesting, highly readable, and provacative. This book appears appropriate for both undergraduate and graduate students. It is an important contribution to the field of parenting." Leo R. Sandy Plymouth State University "..I would consider adopting this text particularly because of its thorough coverage of realistic topics in the 21st century having to do with Parents and Children (of all ages)...right up to the inclusion of the topic of Children caring for their Parents..." Margaret A. Smedley, Ph.D. Cleveland State University "Overall, the book is well-written and informative for students. The focus on topics, focus questions, and many pictures are engaging and help to keep the reader's attention. The book coveras a variety of topics in a broad sweep." Vonda Jump Utah State University "I like the streamlined developmental sections and increased emphasis on theory and special issues." Jane Lanigan Washington State University
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780132853347
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 2/1/2013
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 9
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 118,881
  • Product dimensions: 7.80 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Jerry J. Bigner, PhD, was a Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Human Development and Family Studies, Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO 80523, and retired in 2004 after 36 years of service in higher education. He taught undergraduate and graduate courses in the areas of life-span human development, parent-child relations, theories of human development and family studies, marriage and family relationships, early childhood education, and research methods in human development and family studies. He also completed all course work and practicum requirements in marriage and family therapy and worked towards licensure in this area. His text, Parent-Child Relations, is now in its 9th edition, and he published two texts in life-span human development and family studies. He is the author or co-author of over 50 research articles focusing primarily on parent-child relations as well as relationship and family therapy issues. He was Editor of the Journal of GLBT Family Studies and served on Editorial Board of the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy. He was a research member of the American Family Therapy Academy and was a member of the National Council on Family Relations. Dr. Bigner was a 2005 Centennial Laureate Award recipient of the College of Human Sciences, Florida State University. He also was the 2007 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient of the College of Human Sciences, Florida State University.

Clara Gerhardt, MBA, PhD., is a Professor of Family Studies at Samford University. She is a Clinical Psychologist, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and a Certified Family Life Educator. Amongst her many publications, she documented the history of family therapy in a book chapter on global perspectives in family therapy. She writes Perspectives, a regular column, for a publication of the National Council on Family Relations. She has held positions as Chair of the Department of Family Studies and Chair of a State Board of Examiners in Psychology. As an Educator, she teaches Parenting, Lifespan Development, and Multicultural Perspectives. As part of her duties as Internship Supervisor, she has mentored Child Life as well as Child Development Education students. Dr. Gerhardt is the product of three continents, has professionally presented on six continents, has visited over sixty countries, and speaks five languages fluently. Her practical training is constantly updated by being a parent and a grandparent.

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Table of Contents

PART I Parent—Child Relations in Social Context

CHAPTER 1 The Ecology of Parent—Child Relations

CHAPTER 2 Cultural Perspectives

CHAPTER 3 Theoretical Perspectives on Parent—Child Relations

CHAPTER 4 Parenting Styles and Strategies

PART II The Work of Parenting

CHAPTER 5 The Transition to Parenthood

CHAPTER 6 Pregnancy and Childbirth

CHAPTER 7 Parenting Infants and Toddlers

CHAPTER 8 Parenting Preschoolers

CHAPTER 9 Parenting School-Age Children

CHAPTER 10 Parenting Adolescents and Young Adults

PART III Challenges for Contemporary Parents and Children

CHAPTER 11 Parenting in Single-Parent Family Systems

CHAPTER 12 Parenting in Blended Family Systems

CHAPTER 13 Adolescent Parents CHAPTER 14 Family Formation and Parenting in Same-Sex Couples

CHAPTER 15 Parent–Child Relations in High-Risk Families

CHAPTER 16 Best Practices in Parent–Child Relations

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I have to admit that I'm amazed that this is now the sixth edition of this text. Few authors of textbooks see their work extend this long in the publishing world (the first edition appeared in 1979). The text has essentially retained the same format over several editions with changes being observed in several pedagogical features and in the updating of material based on newly published research findings.

Writing this text continues to provide me with ways to upgrade my own teaching in the parenting course offered in my department at Colorado State. My students continue to provide critical feedback about what works and what doesn't in their learning process and I'm appreciative of this assistance. I have continued to advance in my professional growth as a therapist in working with individuals, couples, and families, but especially in having the opportunity to share my therapeutic insights in chapters I've written for new textbooks. The effects of these growth experiences continue to spill over into my teaching and into the writing of this text.

The work you are about to read contains much of the orientation developed in the previous edition by emphasizing the use of family systems theory throughout most of the chapters to explain how the relationship between parents and children functions and operates. In addition, there is a continued application of the concepts of structure and nurturance as a means for understanding how parents shape their behavior and practice their goal of socializing children for adulthood. These particular concepts are illustrated in those chapters addressing parenting from a child's infancy through adolescence.

New,updated information from research and other sources on parent-child relationships conducted since the last edition is included in each chapter. However, the organization of the text has been revised somewhat to reflect a different emphasis from previous editions on issues that pertain to parenting children in contemporary society.


Part I of the text has been organized to allow more efficient integration of the material that introduces the reader to the nature of parent-child relationships. Chapter 1 now features discussions about the general nature of parent-child relations and how this family role has evolved over the course of recorded human history. This chapter shows how the parent-child relationship is integrated and configured into family systems in contemporary family structures found in the United States. Trends in contemporary American families are explored as a means for understanding the context in which parenting is conducted in most families today. Chapter 2 examines the parenting configurations, found among ethnic minority families in the United States as well as in multiracial families. This chapter also examines the impact of racism on the ability of these families to raise children to adulthood. Chapter 3 features the principal ideas and methods used in developing a disciplinary program for working with children. This chapter introduces the reader to the concepts of nurturance and structure and shows how these are applied in various ways as parents raise children to adulthood. This chapter also identifies those characteristics that describe a competent parent by providing guidelines for a person to work effectively with children in providing for their care. Chapter 4 now incorporates all of the theoretical frameworks used in this text to gain an understanding of the nature of parent-child relations in its more broad context.

The second part of the text focuses on the stages of a family system in which the decision is made and carried through to have children and become parents and during the years that are devoted to childrearing. Chapter 5 is new to this edition and focuses exclusively on the issues that relate to the transition an individual or a couple must make into assuming their parenting roles. This chapter describes the process of decision making and the myriad adjustments that may be encountered as people add this family role to others that have been assumed. Chapters 6 through 10 feature updated research information on pregnancy and childbirth as well as the nature of the interactions between parents and children from infancy through adolescence and early adulthood. Chapter 10 includes new information on the grandparenting role since many adult parents assume this new family role at some time during the years when their children reach early adulthood. In addition, the role of grandparent has become critical for an increasing number of children who are now being raised to adulthood by grandparents rather than by their biological parents.

The remaining chapters of the text constitute the third part, which features family situations that are especially challenging for parents and children alike. Chapter 11 discusses the issues that confront single-parent families, how divorce of adults affects everyone in a family, what steps must be taken while adjusting to functioning as a single-parent family, and important issues relating to child custody. Chapter 12 focuses on issues that challenge healthy stepfamily functioning as an increasing number of people today become remarried for a second and even third time. Chapter 13 features the unique problems of high-risk families in parenting children effectively. The material from previous editions on adolescent parents and abusive parents has been revised. The section on families who are affected by the addiction or dependency of a member to a substance, an event, things, or people is also updated. The material in this section provides an in-depth examination of the effects of these conditions on all family members, how the person came to be affected by the condition, how growing up in such a family creates the likelihood that a child will experience certain problems, how codependency develops among members living in such families, and how treatments, such as family therapy and 12-step programs, can be remedial. Chapter 14 features discussions of important special parenting concerns found in some families. This chapter examines new material published regarding adoption issues, the needs of families with children having special needs, concerns of families with a homosexual child, and the unique issues of gay and lesbian parents.


This edition continues to incorporate the successful pedagogical features that first appeared in the previous edition: (1) Focus Questions at the beginning of each chapter preview the material to be discussed in the chapter; (2) Focus Points appear periodically in each chapter to summarize the major points being discussed; (3) Points to Consider appear at the end of each chapter to summarize the chapter contents; (4) Review/Discussion Questions provide another means for chapter review and stimulating thinking about issues beyond what was covered in each chapter; (5) Parenting FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) appear periodically in almost every chapter. The idea for this feature comes from the newsgroups found on the Internet. Each newsgroup offers an article that addresses many of the FAQs posed by new users who are learning the rules of the group, how to post articles, or how to use the newsgroup effectively to gain the full benefit of its resources. Based on this notion, Parenting FAQs are used like case studies to pose interesting and pertinent questions typically heard from parents regarding a variety of topics, problems, and concerns they face in parenting children. These questions are frequently encountered by professionals who work with parents and families. The answers provided to their questions are written from the perspective of a family therapist and with the help of other experts at times.


Each revision of this text shows improvements over the last while retaining those features that have been found to be effective. I continue to be grateful to have the opportunity to share these with you. I am especially indebted to my colleagues who performed the research I discuss here. This is again a showcase for their efforts and "endeavors. I am also indebted to the comments provided by students and colleagues, which always help to guide the improvements made with each revision. I am especially grateful to those who provided comments specifically for this edition of the text: Dr. R. Eleanor Duff, Southeastern Missouri State; Dr. Holly Gerkin, Central Michigan University; Dr. Jack Mayala, St. Cloud State University; and Dr. Sandra J. Wanner, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

Others not directly connected with the tasks of writing and text production have helped also, especially my Family. I could not focus as clearly on my job of writing without the patience and understanding of many people. My colleagues in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Colorado State have been supportive in many ways. I am particularly grateful to students who have taken my parenting course at Colorado State for their willingness to act as critics as I experiment with various formats in teaching about parent-child relations. I am indeed fortunate to be connected with these individuals as part of my life.

Jerry J. Bigner

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