chapter  12
10 Pages

Children’s relationships and the family

ByCharlie Lewis, Dorothy Miell, Fleur-Michelle Coiffait

Children’s development is primarily a social process, with the family being the central context of learning and development (Bronfenbrenner 1986). Relationships in other settings such as school, peer groups, and the wider community also significantly influence children’s development (Brown 1990; Rubin, Bukowski, and Parker 1998). The composition of family, education, and community systems varies widely throughout the world, as do the experiences and values that children and their families are exposed to both within and across cultures (Tudge et al. 2006). Furthermore, families exist as fluid and changing systems. Therefore it is useful to think about ‘the family’ in two complementary ways. First, it is a network of significant others in the child’s immediate psychosocial world (Walsh 2003). Second, and as a result, it is a continually changing enactment of everyday experiences for each member. The sociologist David Morgan (1998) captured this fluidity by coining the term ‘doing the family’ – development occurs within families but each individual is active in making this process happen.