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Parenting and Relating for the 21st Century

Parenting and Relating for the 21st Century
Credit: New York Times.

A series of high-profile news items have featured Karen Fingerman, professor of Human Development and Family Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. A series of national features look at the latest lessons for parents and all of us from her research, with tips ranging from what a new empty nester needs to keep in mind to which relationships help enhance our wellbeing.

Parents might heed a number of insights Fingerman shared with national publications over the last year:

  • Fingerman was  interviewed in the New York Times about empty nesters. She gave advice to parents seeing their children go off to college and explaining both how parental involvement that is responsive rather than intrusive can help children grow and how parental stress can come from a change of norms and beliefs in our children.
  • In the Harvard Political Review she discussed millennials, too. Fingerman is quoted about the importance of responsive rather than intrusive parental involvement in the lives of children of this generation. The article goes into depth about the research done and different points of view on millennials, including whether labels ascribed to them are fair.
  • Another article in the New York Times looked at the maternal grandparent advantage, the phenomenon where maternal grandparents have more access to their grandchildren than paternal grandparents, and featured Fingerman discussing the advantages that mother-daughter relationships give to the maternal grandparents. Daughters often have a special connection to their mothers, stronger than any other comparable family relationship. "The mother-daughter dyads engage in more frequent phone contact, more emotional support and advice — more than mothers do with sons or fathers with daughters," said Fingerman. Her research has found that how close parents are with a daughter-in-law can make or break how close they can be to their grandchildren.
Even outside of the parent-child dynamic, research from Fingerman's lab is relevant for individuals who relate to others, both in person and online:
  • Earlier this summer, Fingerman was featured in the Washington Post discussing  "weak ties," or relationships with casual acquaintances and how these compare to relationships with close friends and family. These weak ties can actually help buffer stress, keep us calmer and encourage healthy behaviors just as much as the strong ties with close friends and family.
  • Work she and her graduate student Eden Davis collaborated on, exploring what data from dating profiles reveals about conceptions of aging, got attention in the Wall Street Journal
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Monday, 20 August 2018

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