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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An assessment of the scholarship and relevance of popular parenting books written for parents in traditional and non-traditional families McMillan, Shannon Julie


A recent trend in parent education has been the adaptation of printed materials for diverse parent populations. To date, however, few studies have examined the quality of printed materials, in particular popular parenting books, currently available for parents in traditional and nontraditional families. The purpose of this study was to assess, using methods of content analysis, two important criteria of quality—scholarship and relevance—in selected parenting books directed toward parents in two-parent, single-parent and stepparent families. More specially, this study examined paragraphs pertaining to the theme of "structure" in six popular parenting books and attempted to determine: 1) whether the information on structure presented in the books reflected contemporary theory and research (scholarship) and 2) whether the information on structure reflected the experiences of the specific group of parents toward whom the books were directed (relevance). The findings reveal elements of systems theory in all six of the books examined, however, in general, the authors did not reflect current research findings. The authors seldom documented the sources used to inform the content on structure and individual differences in parents and children were largely ignored. In all but one of the books, the information on structure was predominantly neutral in tone. Although not all of the paragraphs on structure were presented in the context of family type, for the most part, the books directed toward parents in single-parent and stepparent families reflected the experiences of parents in single-parent and stepparent families, respectively. However, several relevant issues for parents in these two types of families were given only minimal or no attention. This study highlights the need for educators and researchers to monitor more closely the quality of popular parenting books and to develop specific guidelines concerning the presentation of theoretical and research information in the popular literature.

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