Fact of the Week: Parental
1999, 84.9 percent of parents of child in Kindergarten through
fifth grade attended a school meeting: 88.6 percent of children
from two-parent families had at least one parent, and 58.7 percent
had both parents, while 77.1 percent of children from
single-parent families had a parent attend.
(Source: U. S. National Center for Education Statistics, National Household
Education Survey, 1999; in U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the
United States: 2002 [122nd edition], Washington, DC, 2001, p. 143.)
Quote of the Week: Nerds?
know a lot of people who were nerds in school, and they all tell
the same story: there is a strong correlation between being smart
and being a nerd, and an even stronger inverse correlation between
being a nerd and being popular. Being smart seems to make you
arguably the archetype of the Renaissance Man, writes that 'no
art, however minor, demands less than total dedication if you want
to excel in it.' I wonder if anyone in the world works harder at
anything than American school kids work at popularity. Navy SEALs
and neurosurgery residents seem slackers by comparison. They
occasionally take vacations; some even have hobbies. An American
teenager may work at being popular every waking hour, 365 days a
if nerds cared as much as other kids about popularity, being
popular would be more work for them. The popular kids learned to
be popular, and to want to be popular, the same way the nerds
learned to be smart, and to want to be smart: from their parents.
While the nerds were being trained to get the right answers, the
popular kids were being trained to please."
Center and The World Congress of Families stock a number of
including The New Agrarian Mind: The Movement Toward Decentralist Thought in
Twentieth-Century America, by Howard Center president Dr. Allan Carlson. Please visit:
Research Abstract of the Week: Groomed for Success
with the difficulties of moving from elementary school to middle
school to high school, young adolescents often stumble, lose
self-esteem, withdraw from recreational and service groups, falter
in academic work, and even succumb to the temptations of delinquency
and drugs. Negotiating the difficult transitions of early
adolescence successfully usually requires a supportive social
context in which "schools, neighborhoods, nuclear families, and
friendship groups jointly contribute to positive change." So
concludes a team of researchers from Northwestern, Western Reserve,
and the University of California, Los Angeles, who recently tracked
the behavior and achievements of 12,702 young adolescents in Prince
George's County near Washington, D.C.
at data for academic, social, and psychological well-being, the
researchers establish the importance of "social contexts as
risk and protective factors." The influences of schools,
neighborhoods, nuclear families, and friendship groups all shape the
social context in ways that "affect how young people develop.
When a context was positive, it protected early adolescents; and
when it was negative, it added to their risk."
they scrutinize the ways in which the family helps young adolescents
to succeed, the researchers examine both family process and family
structure. Predictably enough, young adolescents are especially
likely to succeed if they come from families in which parents
communicate well with their children, monitor their behavior, trust
and accept them, and frequently take them to museums and concerts.
But as important as these family process variables are, they cannot
obscure the fundamental importance of family structure:
"Students living with both biological parents changed more
positively [during the course of the study period] than did other
students." In sophisticated multivariate statistical models,
intact-family structure consistently predicted positive changes in
the researchers' composite Success Index (p < .05).
only did family structure predict success, but it also predicted the
overall health of the school-neighborhood-friendship-family context
in which young people live. What the researchers call "joint
context quality" ran "higher when students came from
intact homes" whether those students were Black, White, or
Asian. Such findings give researchers new reasons to care about the
role of the family in creating a "social world [that] is
ordered in ways that generally favor young persons."
(Source: Thomas D. Cook et al., "Some Ways in Which Neighborhoods, Nuclear
Families, Friendship Groups, and Schools Jointly Affect Changes in Early
Adolescent Development," Child Development 73: 1283-1309.)