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Ágnes Boreczky: Changes in Parents' Perceptions of their Children, in Children's Living Conditions and in Socialization

In the families surveyed, differences were found between three generations in living and housing conditions as well as in childhood living space; in the majority of cases, there were marked differences between grandchildren and their grandparents, who had grown up with shortages. The contours of family life as determined by housing patterns, however, had become simplified and homogeneous as had childhood objects. Unlike numerous other tendencies in family structure, shifts in relationships within the family are closely linked to American and European trends: roles have changed (gender roles among both parents and children have become more flexible), parental control has weakened or become less direct, intimacy has become a natural part of family life, the borders between adults' and children's worlds, once strictly guarded, have opened up, disappeared completely, or turned invisible. Childhood not only lasts longer but it has taken on a greater significance and occupies a special position in family life with its own activities, spaces (such as the children's room), objects (such as toys). These phenomena are part of a general trend in which the family unit can be seen as having separated itself from religious and local communities and thus become secularized and individualized. These changes have been gradual, taking place in the second or third generation in some cases; in others, it has been an ongoing process and partly independent of more traditional or extended household structures. This was most common in the parents' generation, in which large, structurally complex households abounded, women somehow still managed to avoid certain family ties, and the relations between the worlds of children and adults also changed. In addition to revealing light on the considerable flexibility of the family as institution, this study draws our attention to the intricate interpersonal family dynamics, old and new, in other words, the peculiarly adaptive nature of the socializing functions of the family, an area clearly beyond the scope of the present article.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 101. Number 2. 151-169. (2001)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: Boreczky Ágnes, H-1114 Budapest, Kemenes u. 14.


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia