Reciprocal socialization in a family setting refers to the process in which children socialize with their parents and how the parents socialize with their children. In reciprocal socialization, parents often attempt to instill their values and ideas purposefully in their children. On the other hand, parents are often unconsciously socialized by their children. When parents and children socialize with each other, they often, unknowingly are attuned with the behaviors of each other. Families are important in helping children learn behaviors and values that will make it easier for them to adjust to new environments. Socialization is an interactive process as well as a bidirectional process. Efforts by parents to impart right values and attitudes in their children are often informed by the childrens behaviors and characteristics. Efforts by children to socialize with their parents are often informed by their environment and in-born traits (Berns, 2004).
Reciprocal socialization has an effect on family dynamics. Parents play a major role in the development of a childs attitudes and behaviors. Mothers play a more important role in the development of a childs values and attitudes than fathers. Given that mothers are by nature, caregivers, they do spend more time with children compared with the time fathers spend with their children. Reciprocal socialization ensures that children in family settings grow up having a strong commitment to their family values and behaviors that their parents deem appropriate. Mothers have a habit of developing appropriate guidelines and routine for their children to ensure that their children live according to their values. Family plays a critical role as a socializing agent as children go through different development stages (Datan et al., 2006).
Reciprocal socialization has changed the manner in which families view sex and drugs. Parents and adolescents views on sex and drugs have become negotiable with time courtesy of reciprocal socialization. Parents have over time developed liberal views about sex and drugs courtesy of influence from their adolescent children. Parents nowadays are not as restrictive with their children on matters of sex as it was in the 1960s when parents were highly restrictive on information that their children could access about sex and drugs. Liberal media has influenced adolescent children to have liberal views on sex and drugs. As a result of mutual influence, parents have been influenced by their children to have liberal views on sex and drugs. Authoritative parenting can only work for adolescents if parents have been practicing authoritative parenting since childhood and the children have become attuned with the mode of parenting. In cases where parents have not been practicing authoritative parenting since childhood and start doing so in adolescence, the adolescents are more likely to become rebellious of their parents. Reciprocal socialization in single families is limited compared to reciprocal socialization in households where both parents live together. Nurturing interaction in households where both the mother and father are present is high compared with the level of interaction in a family setting where only the mother is present (in a single parent household). Adolescents in single-parent families tend to have more problems and tend to direct their frustrations and anger to their mothers. As a result, single mothers tend to be more frustrated when compared with mothers in traditional families. Reciprocal socialization affects adolescents role development. Courtesy of reciprocal socialization, adolescents get to learn expectations that parents and the society at large have of them (Harwood et al., 2008).
I grew up in a family setting where my parents were very authoritative from childhood. As a result, I was a disciplined child because I knew what was expected of me by my parents. With time, I became disciplined; I influenced my parents to become less authoritative given that I did as it was expected of me as a child. My parents and I became friends because our values and attitudes about life became in sync. Courtesy of reciprocal socialization, I was able to understand my parents school of thought and life values. My parents were also able to understand challenges I faced growing up as a child. As a result, my parents became my best friends because we fully understood each other.
Healthy family dynamics can be encouraged by both parents and children playing influential mutual roles in family settings. I suggest that both children and parents should be disciplined to ensure healthy family dynamics are achieved. Open communication between parents and children is one way in which healthy family dynamics can be achieved. By parents and children sharing their daily experiences, trust and unity will be built in a family. Parents should engage in retreats and extracurricular activities with their children. By engaging in extracurricular activities such as sports and retreats together, harmony will be embedded in the family; family members will be able to create a strong family bond by being involved together in extracurricular activities. The above-mentioned strategies will make children understand their parent's school of thought and views on life values and attitudes.
In conclusion, reciprocal socialization can surely have a positive effect on families. Reciprocal socialization can ensure that children grow up to become disciplined adults. Reciprocal socialization can also ensure that parents become supportive of their children as they grow through different developmental stages. Reciprocal socialization can foster understanding, unity, and harmony in families.
Berns, R. (2004). Child, family, school, community: Socialization and support. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.
Datan, N., Greene, A. L., Reese, H. W., & West Virginia University Conference on Life-Span Developmental Psychology. (2006). Life-span developmental psychology: Intergenerational relations. Hillsdale, N.J: L. Erlbaum Associates.
Harwood, R., Miller, S. A., & Vasta, R. (2008). Child psychology: Development in a changing society. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
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