Protective Factors in Family Relationships

Protective Factors in Family Relationships

Ann Buchanan (Centre for Research into Parenting and Children, University of Oxford, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5031-2.ch004
OnDemand PDF Download:
$30.00
List Price: $37.50

Abstract

This chapter analyzes the importance of protective factors in family relationships. In Confucian societies, where services for older people may be limited, intergenerational family relationships are crucial in providing care for the elderly. Confucian societies are better at recognizing the protective influence of the family, but scholars from these areas suggest that the culture may be changing. As the “One child” norm extends (not only in China) across many Asian societies, the challenges for young people in supporting their parents and grandparents may become overwhelming. This chapter suggests that at every stage of the life cycle, some families will need state support in order to carry out their protective role in mitigating the risks experienced by both the young and the old. A state/family partnership approach is likely to be more acceptable, more effective, and more economic than state care alone.
Chapter Preview

己所不欲,勿施於人。

“What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.”

ConfuciusAnalects XV.24

Top

Introduction

Professor Sir Michael Rutter, the distinguished UK child psychiatrist, was one of the first to highlight that although there are many risk factors associated with poor child outcomes, there are also ‘protective’ factors, which can mitigate the risks. Rutter’s ideas, together with those of Bronfenbrenner (1979) who highlighted the importance of the wider ecology on children’s development, have been at the core of the research at the Centre for Research into Parenting and Children in Oxford for over 20 years. This paper will focus on one domain of the Ecological framework: protective factors in family relationships. It will discuss the new brain research that shows that positive relationships in the early years have a measurable impact on the child’s cognitive and emotional development. It will show how fathers have an important role to play and how their involvement is associated with positive outcomes for children both in the short and long term. It will also discuss the role of grandparents and the measureable benefits to young people as a result of their involvement. Finally, it will hypothesise that relationships with the wider family may also support better child outcomes.

In Confucian societies, where services for older people may be limited, intergenerational family relationships are crucial in providing care for the elderly. Confucian societies are better at recognising the protective influence of the family, but scholars from these areas, suggest that the culture may be changing. As the ‘One child’ norm extends (not only in China) but across many Asian societies, the challenges for young people in supporting their parents and grandparents may become overwhelming. This article suggests that as every stage of the life cycle, some families will need state support in order to carry out their protective role in mitigating the risks experienced by both the young and the old. A state/family partnership approach is likely to be more acceptable, more effective and more economic than state care alone.

This study focuses on ‘protective factors’ in family relationships. In the West with the growth of unmarried parenthood; increase in divorce, growth in single households, it is no wonder newspapers are using the statistics to claim the Western family is dead (Harry Wallop 2009).

For those brought up in Confucian tradition, the value and importance of the family is ingrained in their very psyche. In thinking about family relationships the above quote from Confucius is perhaps appropriate. Despite, the changes in family life in the West, the ‘family’, however reconstituted, remains one of the most powerful agents of influence in young people’s lives. Although the coming of the Welfare State has brought enormous benefits, particularly to those are the margins of society, there has been a tendency, often seen in British social workers, to ignore the strengths of the family. The argument in this paper is that the best outcomes for vulnerable families are when the state works in partnership with families at risk. Children, we need to remember, are our economic future and for both humanitarian and economic reasons it makes sense to invest in children maximizing the potential of those who may be socially excluded (Buchanan and Rotkirch 2013). Only in situations of ‘significant risk’ of harm to a child is it right to separate a child from his family.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset