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Issues of upbringing and child development are of great concern in adopting families. Human development is a multidimensional process that occurs in two mutually influencing directions. A person restructures his living environment while being affected by its components at the same time. Irrespective of their type, families refer to the category of primary or immediate social groups and imply a high degree of intimacy, trust, and emotional involvement of all members. Adopting parents should be aware of their child prospects associated with identity development, socialization, education, and selection of a future profession.
Urie Bronfenbrenner’s Bioecological Theory
Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological theory of human development is instrumental in educating adopting parents about their child’s development and socialization across the lifespan. Developed by Urie Bronfenbrenner, an outstanding American psychologist, the ecological systems theory elucidates a heterodox approach to understanding and evaluation of a child’s development phases. According to Bronfenbrenner (1979), all layers and constituents of a person’s environments interact and influence his development. The scholar emphasizes the significance of a person’s perceptions, psychological processes, interactions, and experiences in his medium. Urie Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological theory determines four types of hierarchically nested and interrelated systems and their roles, functions, values, norms, and settings contributing to a child’s development. The systems are comprised of the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, and macrosystem. The microsystem of an adopted child includes his immediate surroundings, such as his family members, objects, and different interlocutors. Adopting parents will influence their child’s developmental changes and his or her beliefs, behavioral patterns, way of life, preferable occupations, residence, and relationships with others.
Parenting Style Selection
The formation of a parenting style and adjustment to the role of parents are some of the main areas of adults’ personal development. A social-psychological concept of parenting styles includes a set of means and methods of interactions between children and parents. Depending on the degree of emotional affinity and control over a child’s behavior, three types of parenting styles are distinguished, videlicet, authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive. In the wake of a child’s growth and maturation, parental functions and roles are repeatedly modified and filled with new content. A child passes certain stages in his development; simultaneously, his parents elude naturally determined steps. Each stage has specific tasks, peculiarities, consequences, and complexities.
An authoritative style will be the most beneficial type of relationship in the given family. An effective parenting style should be adequate, flexible, and predictive. According to Chan and Koo (2011), a parenting style is inextricably linked with youth “subjective well-being and self-esteem, health and risky behavior, and academic achievement and school enrollment”. Authoritative parents take responsibility for children, their behavior, and actions until they reach emotional maturity. Although authoritative parents are sometimes considered to be too strict, in fact, the parenting style promotes positive behavior in children due to reasonable disciplinary measures. Children brought up by authoritative parents become self-reliant, goal-oriented, responsible, and self-confident individuals. Authoritative parents supervise and guide their children’s further development and personal growth. Chan and Koo (2011) provide quantitative evidence of more positive implications of authoritative parenting for a child in comparison with other styles.
The choice between nanny, center-based, and family-based childcare depends on family income and local community resources. The foster parents under consideration have already decided that their child is going to preschool. The child is going to transfer to the mesosystem, which involves interconnections of various social structures and institutions, factors, relationships with peers, places, and settings within his immediate environments. The abovementioned social determinants will influence his or her development and socialization collectively and discretely. However, as well as their child, the adopting parents need to adapt to their new family structure. They should ascertain emotional connections with a new family member. Positive emotional contacts significantly influence the coherence and understanding between family members. In addition, while assessing everything that occurs in society, a child relies primarily on his experiences of communication with close relatives. Subsequently, he or she will organize personal interactions with other people using the model of family communication to a large extent. Thus, it is recommended to provide the child with family-based care before and after preschool.
Raising a child is intended to include him in the range of conventional simple household duties, such as making a bed. Gradual progression to more complicated tasks and activities like sports, music, reading, gardening, and so forth is the eventual goal. At the age of four, the imitation or direct reproduction of actions, words, and deeds of other people is one of the main ways of understanding the world. Therefore, it is desirable to limit possible negative impacts on a child. The parents should use a beneficial equilibrium between overindulgence and strict control in order to provide the child with a safe living environment.
Safety in the home is pivotal for children because most accidents take place in the absence of adults. Teaching child safety precautions should start as early as possible through the explanation of restrictions in a readily understandable format. Moreover, imposing a ban on some independent actions is an effective tool. In addition, safety for the child can be represented as a set of rules related to the use of electrical household appliances, access to items of potential danger (first aid kit, knives and scissors, and so forth), behavior in emergency situations, and communication with extraneous people. Although the Internet has become an integral component of today’s life, web technology has contributed immeasurably to the sexual exploitation of children, particularly, through the dissemination of their images of sexual nature. The adopting parents should monitor their child’s access to online services and install relevant software to prevent any adverse consequence.
Culture and Ethnicity in the Development of Self-Concept
Along with the processes of self-determination of nations, integration practices occur globally. The formation of ethnic identity in adopted children promotes the development of their self-concept. Ferrari and Rosnati (2013) identify ethnic identity “as an aspect of social identity deriving from identification with one’s ethnic group, the sense of belonging to it and any thoughts, perceptions, and emotions linked to being a member of that particular group”. It is especially important for transracial adoptive families when an adoptee’s appearance is apparently different from that of his parents. The formation of ethnic identity is a long process that begins in early childhood and continues in the consciousness and behavior of a person throughout his life. The identity is formed by cultural peculiarities of his external environments, including the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, and macrosystem.
Parents’ racial prejudices can negatively influence the process of the self-concept formation of an adopted child. Thus, it is essential that children are brought up in the culture of inter-ethnic contacts, preserving their historically rooted national originality, dignity, and ethnic identity. Culturally competent parenting can be achieved through participation in community-based cross-cultural programs and initiatives. Social workers’ support and counseling facilitate an appreciation of the child’s ethnicity and country of origin in adoptive parents. Consolidating their efforts in learning another language or cultural peculiarities, both children and parents in adoptive families will benefit.
Socialization in the Home and at School
Socialization entails both the processes and the results of learning and reproducing social and cultural experiences inherent in a particular society, community, or group. It is the assimilation and reproduction of values, attitudes, norms, and behavioral patterns. Family is an important institution of person socialization that functions as a small social group with its specific properties. The effectiveness of the child socialization in the family is directly dependent on several factors, including the entire system of values, attitudes, needs, and motivations. The factors are oriented towards real possibilities of family livelihood and abilities to adjust goals, attitudes, and values of family life to external realities. Parents’ interpersonal communication skills, informal interactions between relatives, honored family traditions, rules of conduct, and the formation of empathy and pedagogical reflection are also of particular importance for an adoptee’s socialization. The benevolent atmosphere significantly contributes to the well-being of an adopted child. The more varied and richer family relationships are, the wider social experience children acquire. Thus, family relationships should provide a sense of security, as well as stimulate, and guide an adoptee’s development.
The socialization that occurs at school is conditioned by elements of the exosystem. The exosystem includes impacts made by established or changed norms, values, beliefs, and standards existing in the person’s community. At school, a child enters into an intense stage of mastering new social roles, his circle of contacts grows rapidly, and interactions expand and diversify. During the school period, he or she desperately needs parents’ and teachers’ support and advice concerning the explanation, information, and assistance in the creation of evaluative settings. However, inappropriate understanding of the inner world of an adoptee and problems specific to foster families could cause hostility in teachers. The outcome negatively influences classmates’ attitudes and may result in the social isolation of an adopted child. A teacher must be ready to intervene and support a foster child when classmates hurt or humiliate him intentionally or unintentionally. Collaboration between parents, social workers, and the teaching staff can eliminate difficulties in a child’s socialization at school.
The Importance of Positive Peer Interactions
Within a group of peers, a child acquires important social skills of informal interactions with others, coping with personal problems and anxieties, and confronting hostility and domination. Growing up, children become more willing to participate in collective activities, effectively coordinate their actions, and cooperate in resolving difficult situations. Friendship is close and voluntary relationships, which serve as a source of emotional support and empathy for an individual. Parents should teach an adoptee to be tolerant of others’ drawbacks in order to become a loyal friend. Adoptive parents should be sincere and share their thoughts, feelings, and life experiences with adoptees; their examples are deposited in the children's memory and become helpful at the right moment. Prior to immediate interventions into their child’s problem, parents should understand and asses the causes of the disharmony as soon as possible. Inadequate socialization in the family leads to a child’s antisocial behavior, withdrawal, aggression, and absent desire to communicate with peers. Interactions with peers can become a tough call for an adopted child. Counseling and social workers’ advice can increase parents’ awareness of fostering friendship.
Although the family is the initial stage of humans’ interactions with the environment, it influences the entire process of their socialization. Fostering encompasses the totality of social problems inherent in modern society and lifestyles. The complexity of children’s socialization in adoptive families and at school imposes special requirements for a social worker’s competence and personal skills. Pertaining knowledge of child development will assist a social worker in selecting and implementing the most successful strategies of cooperation with both adopting parents and adoptees. Furthermore, such competence allows individualizing an approach to each person and upbringing a full-fledged personality.
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