The Relationship between Parental Distancing Strategies and the Child’s Cognitive Behavior

  • Irving E. Sigel


To map the terrain of the family as a functioning system is a complex task. Nevertheless, there has been a resurgence of interest in family dynamics, with current advocates espousing a multicausal, multidisciplinary, multieverything approach. The recognition that the family is a complex organization and that it cannot be understood from the conceptualization or methodology of any one discipline may not be new. Nevertheless, it is only recently that the family has been the unit of study for psychologists (e.g., Cochran & Brassard, 1979; Hetherington, 1979; Lamb, 1978; Lewis & Lee-Painter, 1974; Parke & O’Leary, 1975). Recent discoveries of family networks (Cochran & Brassard, 1979; Lewis & Feiring, 1979) and of child effects on the family (Bell & Harper, 1977)—in addition to the traditional studies—are, in my estimation, signs of a rapprochement between the idealized world of the psychologist’s view of human behavior and the realities of family interaction. In spite of this increased convergence between the reality and the idealized image of the social scientist’s conception of the family, there is still a considerable gap between our sophisticated awareness of the complexities and the methodological competence we now have to cope with this complex phenomenon. Consequently, we modify our conceptualization in practice to conform to the practical methods we have for data analysis.


Parental Behavior Child Outcome Cognitive Behavior Family Constellation Representational Competence 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irving E. Sigel
    • 1
  1. 1.Educational Testing ServicePrincetonUSA

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