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.