Title

Making the Mundane Things Families Do Worthy of Study

Location

Room C

Start Time

18-10-2013 12:10 PM

End Time

18-10-2013 12:40 PM

Session Type

Theoretical Paper

Abstract

Families form a common social institution studied by a variety of social scientists with the hope of informing practitioners about potential services. This literature ranges across the life span from how families impact developmental outcomes of infants to post-retirement longevity of seniors. This vast body of research about families and people’s well-being leads to a compelling need for educators in occupational therapy to shift from an individualistic understanding of occupation-centered practice to consider family occupations as an area of intervention. For entry level practitioners this starts with a general knowledge base about what families do and factors that shape variations in family occupations. Morgan (2011), however, notes that many people enter the field of family studies with a lot of tacit knowledge. This results in students’ confusion about the importance of studying a topic that seems obvious and mundane. This paper examines how to help students reflect on what they assume they know and learn to express a critical and situated appreciation of the complexity of things families do. From an occupational science perspective I argue that family occupations are co-constitutive. That is, being a family is a process of doing family things (Morgan, 2011). In this way families define and sustain themselves through their occupations. The extent their communities value these daily activities influences family members’ well-being (Weisner, 2010). The educational objective is to help students recognize and appraise the highly contextual nature of family occupations and the nature their knowledge and the literature. The first move is to problematize students’ assumptions about the rightness of family practices. I chose a parenting practice, actions to correct a child’s behavior. Even if they are not parents, students react with a sense of rightness or wrongness regarding the range of disciplinary situations between parents and children. Next we examine the nature of the literature. Disciplining children has been studied by mostly white middle class scientists who come with North American/Eurocentric biases. We discuss how this literature on harsh discipline has moved beyond professional journals to appear as normative advice in parenting magazines. The class then reads literature that takes a more relativistic and multicultural approach to discipline (Burchinal et al., 2010; Landsford et al., 2005). Taking the ecocultural approach (Weisner, 2010) moves beyond the students’ comfort zone to a pluralist view of parenting practices. We discuss the transactional nature of family occupations, considering the sociocultural, economic, and community situations that relationally link with family and individual processes (Misty & Wu, 2010). Finally, students are given a case study about a grandmother that wants to train her grandson with mild developmental delays to use the toilet. In the discussion students apply a relativistic, social constructionist perspective to a discussion of what it means to be family-centered in their work.

Learning objectives:

  1. Explore teaching strategies when coming from a post-positivistic perspective to help students develop a pluralistic appreciation of family occupations.
  2. Consider additional areas of conceptual concern for occupational scientists interested in family occupations.

References

Burchinal, M, Skinner,D., & Reznick, J.S. (2010). European American and African American mothers’ beliefs about parenting and disciplining infants: A mixed method analysis. Parenting: Science and Practice, 10, 79-96.

Landsford, J.E. et al. (2005). Physical discipline and children’s adjustment: Cultural normativeness as a moderator. Child Development, 76 (6), 1234-1246.

Mistry, J. & Wu, J., (2010) Navigating cultural worlds and negotiating identities: A conceptual model. Human Development, 53, 5-25.

Morgan, D.H. (2011). Rethinking family practices. New York: Palgrave and Macmillan.

Weisner, T.S., (2010). Well-being, chaos, and culture: Sustaining a meaningful daily routine. In G.W. Evans & T.E. Wachs (Eds.). Chaos and its influence on children’s development: An ecological perspective (pp. 211-224). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

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Oct 18th, 12:10 PM Oct 18th, 12:40 PM

Making the Mundane Things Families Do Worthy of Study

Room C

Families form a common social institution studied by a variety of social scientists with the hope of informing practitioners about potential services. This literature ranges across the life span from how families impact developmental outcomes of infants to post-retirement longevity of seniors. This vast body of research about families and people’s well-being leads to a compelling need for educators in occupational therapy to shift from an individualistic understanding of occupation-centered practice to consider family occupations as an area of intervention. For entry level practitioners this starts with a general knowledge base about what families do and factors that shape variations in family occupations. Morgan (2011), however, notes that many people enter the field of family studies with a lot of tacit knowledge. This results in students’ confusion about the importance of studying a topic that seems obvious and mundane. This paper examines how to help students reflect on what they assume they know and learn to express a critical and situated appreciation of the complexity of things families do. From an occupational science perspective I argue that family occupations are co-constitutive. That is, being a family is a process of doing family things (Morgan, 2011). In this way families define and sustain themselves through their occupations. The extent their communities value these daily activities influences family members’ well-being (Weisner, 2010). The educational objective is to help students recognize and appraise the highly contextual nature of family occupations and the nature their knowledge and the literature. The first move is to problematize students’ assumptions about the rightness of family practices. I chose a parenting practice, actions to correct a child’s behavior. Even if they are not parents, students react with a sense of rightness or wrongness regarding the range of disciplinary situations between parents and children. Next we examine the nature of the literature. Disciplining children has been studied by mostly white middle class scientists who come with North American/Eurocentric biases. We discuss how this literature on harsh discipline has moved beyond professional journals to appear as normative advice in parenting magazines. The class then reads literature that takes a more relativistic and multicultural approach to discipline (Burchinal et al., 2010; Landsford et al., 2005). Taking the ecocultural approach (Weisner, 2010) moves beyond the students’ comfort zone to a pluralist view of parenting practices. We discuss the transactional nature of family occupations, considering the sociocultural, economic, and community situations that relationally link with family and individual processes (Misty & Wu, 2010). Finally, students are given a case study about a grandmother that wants to train her grandson with mild developmental delays to use the toilet. In the discussion students apply a relativistic, social constructionist perspective to a discussion of what it means to be family-centered in their work.

Learning objectives:

  1. Explore teaching strategies when coming from a post-positivistic perspective to help students develop a pluralistic appreciation of family occupations.
  2. Consider additional areas of conceptual concern for occupational scientists interested in family occupations.