ERIC Number: ED345830
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Sep
Reference Count: N/A
Does More Equal Better, and for Whom? Discourse and Practice in Parent Education.
The ideas, practices, and day-to-day impact of parent education should be critically examined, and Michel Foucault's conception of discourse provides a useful model for doing so. Contemporary discourses about becoming a parent achieve their authority in different ways. In contrast to the child care literature by so-called experts earlier in this century, contemporary writers emphasize their neutrality, seeking to increase parent confidence rather than telling parents how to raise their children. These authors use their academic or medical credentials to establish themselves as authorities, and use various stylistic devices to legitimate their points of view. To examine the effects of contemporary parenting literature on the lives and behaviors of parents, an ethnographic study of a New Zealand family was undertaken during the first year after a child was born. The couple had family living nearby and spent time with them. This was in contrast with the norm portrayed by authors of child care books, who feel that their books are necessary substitutes for the advice traditionally given by members of extended families. Interviews with the couple revealed the importance of social context (for example, the attitudes of their peers) to their position with respect to the child-rearing methods recommended by particular authorities. In one instance, authorities, including a professional nurse and parenting books, were used to legitimate the course of action the parents were taking with respect to their child's sleep patterns. It is concluded that future policies and programs of parent education need to be driven by a concern for the social conditions in which the care of children and parent education occurs. (AC)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Foucault (Michel); New Zealand
Note: Paper presented at the Early Childhood Convention (5th, Dunedin, New Zealand, September 8-12, 1991).