A new study on parenting has been released in the Psychology Journal of Child Development that looks at how the type of family a person comes from can affect the child in school, and beyond.
More than 200 families were studied over the course of three years and the impact of their parenting and family styles were compared with their academic and life successes. Researchers found that there are three different kinds of families and compared them to the families we see on sitcoms and/or movies.
The first kind of family is the "enmeshed family" similar to the one seen on Everybody Loves Raymond. This is the kind of family that nitpicks, can be petty and meddling but in general also contain a fair amount of love and warmth although when emotions run high, there can be destructive results. The study saw that the children of these kinds of families emerge as overly reliant on each other, have a hard time adjusting to each other and show an inability to get along with other kids. Having so much meddling going on at home causes these children to have difficulty focusing on schoolwork and kids are too dependent on their families.
The second kind of family was called the "cohesive family" - the kind we saw over the years in The Cosby’s. These families are led by the parents but with give and take, depending on the circumstances. Warmth and love is easily and often displayed and the back and forth relationships are good-natured and affable. Children from these families have a sense of continuity, a feeling that their parents will help them in times of trouble and kids feel physically and emotionally secure and safe. Children from these families display confidence in school and show an ability to master academic tasks quickly. This family is considered the premier kind of family dynamic and the healthiest for all involved.
The last family structure studied was the "disengaged family" and is compared to the movie Ordinary People. These are families that rarely show emotion, who don’t talk or communicate very often and are distant and cold.