ROLE OF THE FAMILY
The family, for Bronfenbrenner, plays the most critical role in the development of the child. In the family, children learn language, culture and values. They form lifelong bonds and attachments in the family, and when the family is healthy, are more capable of functioning in a healthy way in other relationships and environments.
Parents have a direct influence on children’s behavior, depending upon how they parent and structure the child’s environment. Indirect influences on children are interactions between two individuals that are impacted by an outside force or third party. Children can experience internal or external barriers to their relationships with different ecosystems. Internal barriers cause worry and fear, while external barriers are expressed as anger or aggression.
While Bronfenbrenner believed in the importance of these ecosystems in child development, genetics still played a role in the child’s overall experiences. Personality and other factors are influenced by genetics. In fact, two children can experience the same microsystem or family context in very different ways. Awareness of the contexts in which children develop and grow can help to understand those children, their behavior and their development.
The Ecological Systems Theory has been key to the work of many later psychologists, including their understanding of how various parts of life relate to one another.
Socioeconomic Status and Family Functioning
· SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS
· INCOME, EDUCATION, AND OCCUPATION
· MIXED INFLUENCES
· COMPARISON OF TWO FAMILIES
The socioeconomic status of the family significantly impacts the physical, psychological, social and intellectual development of children. According to the American Psychological Association, “Socioeconomic status (SES) is often measured as a combination of education, income and occupation. It is commonly conceptualized as the social standing or class of an individual or group. When viewed through a social class lens, privilege, power and control are emphasized.”
Imagine a pair of young parents, both still in college or graduate school. They have a very low income, but would not be of low socioeconomic status because of their education and occupation. They may have limited financial resources, but the children likely experience some of the benefits common to children from families with more resources. For instance, these parents likely understand the importance of early childhood literacy. Compare those parents to a young couple who dropped out of high school and work menial jobs; they may have the same approximate income as the first family, but their lives and socioeconomic status are very different.
Socioeconomic status is not just the result of income, but of a combination of income, education and occupation. Higher socioeconomic status is associated with higher levels of education, technical or white-collar jobs, and higher incomes. Lower socioeconomic status is closely associated with reduced education, unskilled or semi-skilled labor, and lower incomes. Each of the three factors that define socioeconomic status are relevant to determining the socioeconomic status of a family.
The differences can impact children in other ways as well. For instance, two families of a similar income, for instance comfortably middle class, can be very different depending upon the parents’ occupation, experiences and education. One family might believe it is essentially important for their children to develop a good work ethic, while the other might be more concerned with appearances. These differences are also the result of socioeconomic status.
Factors Linked to Low Economic Status
Several factors are specifically linked to low socioeconomic status. These include psychological, physical, educational, and familial issues.
· Psychological Impact
· Physical Impact
· School Performance
· Risk of Violence and Neglect
· Relationship Stress and Divorce