Socialization starts at birth for a human being. By this process, humans are molded and formed into shapes suitable and acceptable in society. When one goes contrary to this group conformity, he or she is criticized. We as humans are shaped in this way, by different agents of socialization. The family is identified as the primary agent contributing to this (Maccoby, 1992). From birth, we are identified as boy or girl and the family introduces us to gender socialization. The boy is given a blue blanket and the girl a pink one. Thus, this forms our introductory into the learning process that is socialization. For this essay, an impact of the role that parents as agents of socialization play is discussed with major reference from an interview conducted. This essay seeks to determine whether parents understand the role they play in socialization.
To assess the role that parents as agents of socialization play in influencing the lives of their children, I interviewed my parents. When asked whether they realized the extent to which the decisions they made influenced my life decisions, they clearly explained how they did what they thought was best for me. They made the decisions with the hope that I would learn and become a better person. They explained the role that parents play in shaping their children’s lives as an irreplaceable one which is essential in ensuring they turn into good reliable adults. In my interview when I asked my father why he chose to instill the values he did and not others, he told me; ‘that was just the way it is.’ His father had done the same for him, instilling values that he had considered important, and he too later on in his life was shaped and molded to become a responsible adult, because of these values. My father has always instilled in me, that nothing in life is free and I must work hard to achieve my goals and dreams in life. My father stated that anything that is given to me in life is considered a blessing. That is what my grandfather told my father when he was growing up. In conclusion, it is clear that parents do play a very important role in shaping and molding our lives. Whether they realize the impact of their role, is a question yet to be truly answered.
Understanding the socialization process is a topic of interest in developmental and social psychology. It is, in this regard, important to understand the cluster of activities and processes that lead to people being adults and being appropriate within their social groups. The core meaning of appropriateness of behavior stems from the understanding that human development involves moving from childhood to adulthood (Ruble, Martin & Berenbaum, 2006). And if a child is to be an adequate adult, he/she must acquire motives, values, skills, and habits that help them avoid deviant behavior. Avoiding the deviant behavior involves avoiding actions that place undue burdens or disrupts the functioning of the other people within the hierarchy of their social groups.
Appropriateness of behavior also influences the formation and sustenance of close relationships with others, contribution to the economic support of oneself and their family, and ability to rear children in their turn. Most of these attributes of socialization are viewed as primary roles of parents to their children. However, parents are not the sole agents of their children’s socialization (Lytton & Romney, 1991). The family is the main unit of socialization, and childhood is the most malleable period of human life cycle during which values, social orientation, personality attributes, social skills are laid down. The rectitude of an adult is, therefore, dependent on the earlier training received from parents when one was a child.
A student of socialization is inclined to the understanding that the society especially the modern one cannot depend on the presence of monitors and policemen to guide the behavior of persons and keep the members of society in line (Lytton & Romney, 1991). Dependence on monitors raises the recursive question as to who will be the monitor of the monitors. According to developmentalists, socialization assists children to develop certain aspects of self-regulation in line with social norms which is compliance with the parental guidelines in their absence. The socialization process can be said to be under the influence of the affective aspects that occupy the central place of the relationships between children and their parents such as empathy, fear, love, and hate.
In the top-down conception of socialization, parents are seen as transmitters and trainers of culture while children are viewed as empty vessels that need to be filled with the necessary social repertoire. This means that parental practices mediate and affect the development of children. According to the psychoanalytic theory of human socialization, the process of children socialization is greatly influenced by the role of parents in their lives (Blakemore & Hill, 2008). The elements of this theory dictate the role of parents in the socialization process of their children. It thus defines childhood as a period in life characterised by high plasticity and the attributes that children acquire in this period are almost irreversible. However, the characteristics may change in their manifestation during development into adulthood.
On the other hand, the theory asserts that sexuality and aggression are two intrapsychic forces which progress through psychosexual stages in the early stages of a child’s development. This means that parents influence their children’s emotional states by teaching them to assume their respective sexual roles which are determined by their sexuality (Ruble, Martin & Berenbaum, 2006). The practices of parents determine the quality of their children experience and influence the long-term consequences of their developmental stages. While children are expected to be resistance to their parents’ impositions, parents are expected to impose restrictions in their children’s free expression of impulses and wishes to tame unwanted behavior. Therefore, parents are bestowed with the responsibility of channeling aggression from their children into acceptable behavior and direct their sexual impulse away from their parents.
Psychoanalytic theory suggests that children undergo a series of intense conflict which is based on the struggle for self-identification. Children love thair parents and their nurturing presence but fear to lose this nurturance (Collins, Maccoby, Steinberg, Hetherington &Bornstein, 2000). This explains the feeling of children sexuality directed towards parents entailing the danger of losing the parental nurturance. Through self-identification, the children start introjecting and internalizing the values of their parents thus forming a conscience or a superego which reflects an internal representation of the regulatory capacity of the parents.
Children are born with their incestuous wishes which are directed towards the parent of the opposite sex. This results in the risk of rejection by the parent of the same sex which in turn leads to conflict resolution with the same-sex parent taking the form of sexuality identification. Due to this identification, the child is able to adopt sex-typed attitudes and behavior as well as the general set of prosocial values (Bussey & Bandura, 1999). The identification process is believed to give rise to the children capacity to develop self-regulating impulses. As such, a child’s primitive impulses require parental teaching and control to assume the adult culture and get under social control.
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