It is commonly known that children are the young individuals who have not reached the age of majority, and are the offspring of their natural parents. Starting from the end of the 19th century, the roles of family and children in particular have begun shifting, and remain changing up to these days. The relationships between children and parents have been the subjects of studies of many disciplines, starting from psychology and early child development to economics and politics. Parental involvement (regarded as "the interaction and assistance provided by parents to children" (Blair, 2014) into the developmental process of their children is important because it forms a bond between a parent and their child, which further influences social cognition; decreases child's vulnerability to stressors; and develops adequate internal regulation of emotions in children. For younger children, according to the research (Qiu, Schvaneveldt&Sahin, 2013), being a family mainly means living together and having contact, and for older children blood and legal connections become more determinant in defining a family. Thus, it is of utmost importance for parents to be involved in the early development of their children and communicating and supporting them through it, since children perceive family bonds by interaction and open relationships with their parents rather than looking into legal and genetic links. While social and cultural factors may differently influence parents' understanding of the most successful and efficient way to interact with and assist their children, it has been scientifically proven that greater parental involvement results in greater academic performance of a child (Blair, 2014). This, in its turn, can yield numerous benefits for child's further development and life, starting from their social cognition to successful employment and financial stability. Also, successful supervision and leadership of a parent can provide a great role model for their child, which is beneficial both in terms of parental authoritarian image and a motivation for the child to persuade a nicely set example further in life.
The families nowadays have become more diverse. This diversification contradicts more traditional beliefs and values and introduces a new, more democratic and modern approach to family practices. Naturally, since children are molded by society, but ultimately by family (Averett, Nalavany&Ryan, 2009), they need to have competent guardians who would help them with socialization process. The shifts in conventional values and traditions have been going on on both global and domestic level. Globalization has had its impact on separate countries and the entire world alike, with frequent confrontation and rejection by conservative people, which is why modern practices of parenting need to be researched and addressed by the experts for a better understanding of the newly emerging shifts and tendencies.
All in all, the main factors which influence parenting and family values can be outlined. Economic development and sociocultural backgrounds of families certainly influence the set-up rules and traditions based on which parent-child interaction is performed, and it also influences the family setting. Diversification in American family structure also indicates for a shift to more variations of the family forms and functions. Earlier in time, a family was normally regarded as a heterosexual couple with children (Qiu, Schvaneveldt&Sahin, 2013). Nowadays, different forms of family are becoming more widespread and socially accepted, such as single-parenting, delayed marital timing, and same sex marriages. It creates certain difficulties for parents in terms of continually adjusting to new tendencies in society and, if a family belongs to a type which has not been so widespread earlier, conformation to social stigma and instilling open-minded way of perceiving the world in their children. However, it is also beneficial for parents, as they now have more flexible choice as to what parenting method to resort to, adjust their family life to the way most convenient for them and not dictated by the society, and regulating parent-child relationships in a more democratic way. Androgyny in the gender roles within families has also become widespread, since gender roles are no longer strict and regulated, but are interchangeable between the parents. For example, women may choose to proceed with their career growth and men can be stay-at-home fathers. Homosexual couples have also brought certain diversity into the way gender roles are distributed between the two parents, and it allowed both men and women pursue their vocation rather than resort to the roles prescribed by the long-time social and cultural regulations.
The years of early childhood development are important for further young individual's formation into a mature, physically and mentally developed, independent and intelligent person. Thus, in the ideal setting, both parents need to be both theoretically and practically equipped for successful addressing and supporting child's movement along the developmental trajectories.
Piaget's theory of Intellectual development explains how cognitive development has a direct influence on the overall educational knowledge base (Tyler, 2012). As education is an important part of one's development, Piaget started with the description of Intellectual structure, stimulated and practically formed by mental activity, which is a process of adaptation to the environment (Tyler, 2012). Assimilation and accommodation, as two components of adaptation, is only possible to fulfil by providing proper guidance and supervision of a child by a parent, teacher or guide, since an infant is not yet capable of determining their structure of knowledge and outlining the pieces of information needed for its formation (Tyler, 2012). Therefore, relationships between children and parents at this point need to be initiated by the parent while addressing child's questions and requests at the same time. Such two-sided interaction would be the most productive medium, through which the child would access and receive necessary knowledge and experience, and the parent would be able to learn and understand the peculiarities of their offspring's personality and intellectual structure. Management and leadership are also important components of parent-child relationships. Still, the two terms need to be distinguished, since management is denoted as daily operations and sustaining child's development according to the typical scenario, while leadership implies forward thinking and improvement (Wise&Wright, 2012). Thus, parents need to combine both, since management will enabled them to move along the set-up developmental trajectories of a child and guide them through its stages, while leadership will allow them to take a step forward and be more initiative and flexible toward advances and improvement in child's development.
Homosexual adoption has long been a controversial topic. There are many arguments for and against gay and lesbian adoption, however, according to Averett, Nalavany & Ryan (2009), there has been no scientific evidence justifying the ban of homosexual adoption. The statistics speaks for itself: seven years ago, 130,000 children were waiting to be adopted in the USA, and the shortage of qualified adoptive parents was officially noted by Congress in 2007 (Averett, Nalavany & Ryan, 2009). According to the same source, around two million of gays and lesbians were interested in adoption, which could have apparently resolve the issue of child welfare. Still, their initiative could not be fulfilled due to numerous barriers against homosexual adoption which still exist on both state and social levels. The arguments of those in favor of homosexual adoption and those against it are reasonable, however, with shifting tendencies in family forms and common acceptance of homosexuality, the arguments from both sides must be judged from the side of a potentially adopted child. Statsictis say, that the annual income of homosexual parents is more than of heterosexual, which serves in favor of an adopted child. Also, homosexual couples do not arrange their homes any differently from heterosexual couples, which means that a child adopted by a gay or lesbian couple will not grow up in a setting which differs from the traditional family setting too much. On the other hand, the children of homosexual parents may suffer from social stigma which still exists on both domestic and international levels. Also, although homosexual adoption may cover up the shortage of qualified adoptive parents, gay or lesbian couples are less likely to adopt a child of a different nationality (Averett, Nalavany&Ryan, 2009), which is a double-edged sword taking into consideration rapidly increasing cultural diversification in the United States. Still, with very little research on the subject, homosexual adoption and parenting remain controversial topics nowadays. One thing is sure – both heterosexual and homosexual parents can be equally successful or unsuccessful in parenting. Thus, evaluation of their parenting abilities should be based on real-life evidence rather than on stereotypical assumptions.
Averett, P., Nalavany, B., & Ryan, S. (2009). An Evaluation of Gay/Lesbian and Heterosexual Adoption. Adoption Quarterly, 12(3-4), 129-151. Blair, S. (2014). Parental Involvement and Children's Educational Performance: A Comparison of Filipino and U.S. Parents. Journal Of Comparative Family Studies, 45(3), 352.Tyler, K. P. (2012). The Impact of the Shifting Knowledge Base, from Development to Achievement, on Early Childhood Education Programs. Forum On Public Policy Online, 2012-n1Qiu, W., Schvaneveldt, P., & Sahin, V. (2013). Children's perceptions and definitions of family in China, Ecuador, Turkey, and the United States. Journal Of Comparative Family Studies, 44(5), 645.Wise, V., & Wright, T. (2012). Critical Absence in the Field of Educational Administration: Framing the (Missing) Discourse of Leadership in Early Childhood Settings. International Journal Of Educational Leadership Preparation, 7(2)