chapter  5
12 Pages

Family Relationships and Peer Relationships in Middle Childhood: An Exploratory Study of the Associations Between Children's Integration into the Social Network of Peers and Family Development: Lothar Krappmann

With regard to middle childhood-ages 6 to 12-the influence of the family on the expanding social life of children has been paid even less attention than in infancy and early childhood. Intense investigations on the bidirectional relations between the family and the peer system in all age phases seem to be needed because we have to assume that the influences vary across development. Whereas the integration of younger children into peer relationships can be promoted by managing, coaching, and supervising parents (McDonald & Parke, 1984; Parke, 1986), the reciprocal influences between family and peer systems in middle childhood are characterized by limits of successfully coaching and supervising. To demonstrate these new patterns of relations between the two social systems, I use data from a study of children's social life during the elementary school years. These observational data put into focus the steps in family development necessary to make room for child development. First, I outline the problems residing in the linkage between the two socializing systems, family and peer relationships; second, I present some data on the mutual influences of these two relationship systems; and, third, I discuss the ways in which these influences interlace.