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The Role of the Child in Adult Development

Abstract

This paper provides theoretical and empirical support for the view that children play a large and often underappreciated role in adult development. Fifty parents and teachers were asked to discuss occasions when they learned something valuable from a child or when a child changed them in some significant way. Adults reported that children can cause them to (a) shift their values or priorities, (b) integrate memories or experiences previously disowned or repressed, (c) become more creative and cognitively flexible, or (d) look at the world with more wonder, awe, or curiosity. Werner's concept of “genetic stratification” (H. Werner, 1957) and Labouvie-Vief, Chiodo, Goguen, Diehl, and Orwoll's concept of “dynamic intersubjectivity” (G. Labouvie-Vief, L. M. Chiodo, L. A. Goquen, M. Diehl, & L. Orwoll, 1995) are used to explain the results.

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Correspondence to James J. Dillon.

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Dillon, J.J. The Role of the Child in Adult Development. Journal of Adult Development 9, 267–275 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1020286910678

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1020286910678

  • child effects
  • adult development
  • genetic stratification
  • dynamic intersubjectivity
  • bidirectionality