Healthy Families Make for a Healthy Society

There is an office that I occupy that is at basement level below the church’s sanctuary stage where I fellowship. I am very fond of its location because it is just underneath the stage floor where a massive, cross towers over an entire congregation. Ironically, it has been named, “The Dungeon.”

During the summer, the church allows an outgoing Christian camp organization to use the campus. I was invited to the closing ceremony in order to help promote the upcoming parenting retreat. Sitting in the audience along with many parents and family members whose children, of various ages and grades, were singing worship songs and displaying their talents on stage, I considered how Jesus related that to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, we must be like a child. I felt a sense of joy as I stood up to sing together with them. I could only imagine how God was smiling on them all.

This summer I endured the invasive sounds of trumpet practice, cheer leading, stage stomping, excited children screaming, groups of running feet, more screaming through the dungeon hallway as well as the occasional bumping on the wall all while I am working on both my dissertation and parenting course outline. So yes, I was standing in worship singing, Hallelujah, with joy that the camp was over.

The children had an art display in the adjoining room to the sanctuary where I had a banner of our ministry displayed. I stood next to it eagerly awaiting as the ceremony came to its close. Finally, the children and family members came through as they collected their crafts.

Part of what I do as a psychotherapist is to observe the interactions between couples and their children. I was pleased to see the children leading their parents through the aisles showing off their art and that of their friends while parent’s facial expressions revealed interest and excitement.  While no parent approached me to ask about the parenting retreat, I consider that most parents would not. Perhaps it is because there is so much debatable information that has left parents with confusion about who to trust, so they go about parenting the best way they believe.

I have written a short but technical article titled, Why Parenting Education is Important. I hope that one day Parenting education can become a common place within society because the foundation of society begins with family. The role of parents should be to socialize their children to develop healthy relational skills and become productive members of society.

 

Why Parenting Education is Important

Why Parenting Education is Essential

Parenting requires many adjustments, and gender, race, ethnicity, education, age, socioeconomic situation as well as religiosity affect how the relationship functions. Family formation is also changing with marriage followed by remarriage and blended families, interracial marriage, same-sex marriage, single parents, and cohabitation becoming the norm as more than half of all first marriages end in divorce. Research in social learning theory posits that individuals modify the behavior of each other through the consequences of their behaviors. Dysfunction occurs when maladaptive rather than adaptive behaviors are rewarded.

Social learning theory involves observational learning when positive or negative consequences influence whether a behavior is maintained or eliminated. Social learning occurs when an individual has observed a behavior and then in a similar situation decides whether or not to respond in a similar way, indicating that the learning has been cognitively stored. Learning through observation is an efficient way to acquire new behaviors, but both functional and dysfunctional behavior can be learned this way .

While the exchanges of behavior are important in (family) relationships, researchers see the need to incorporate aspects of the social learning theory with other theories that address the role of stress on the parent relationship, emphasizing the importance of social support. When families are able to support each other in times of stress, they experience a greater sense of well being in their relationship. The ability to adapt, the core of the social learning theory, enhances relationship quality.

The impact of social learning theory on the science of predicting, preventing, and treating family issues cannot be overstated. However, some researchers question the effectiveness of the theoretical approach of the social learning theory to achieve meaningful relationship change.

The social learning theory can be expanded through study of the characteristics of people who are not likely to change whoever their partner is because of personality, race, sociodemographic circumstances or psychological problems. Researchers posit that contextual influences such as low wages, unsupportive social networks and stressful environment may lead to maladaptive interactions referred to in social learning theory and that changes in context could lead to behavioral change.

Learning derives not only from exposure but also in responding to the environment and other influences. Many influences on one’s life are unexpected. People are producers as well as products of social systems. Social relationships vary due to cultural diversity and sociodemographic characteristics. Parenting education is essential in  promoting society-wide changes across cultural backgrounds.

We can all use some positive influences to make a positive impact in the lives of others and society and it begins with the family.

 

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