sealPurdue National Family Week _____

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: The following are story ideas on parenting for National Family Week, which is Nov. 23-29. National Family Week is designed to recognize families as the building blocks of society and to encourage the support of healthy family life. The week has been observed nationally since 1970.

November 1997

More grandparents take on role as 'parents' to grandchildren

As more grandparents become primary caregivers for their grandchildren, their expanded roles bring both joy and issues to overcome. For many, raising their grandchildren keeps them young and active and gives them a great deal of satisfaction, says Dena Targ, Purdue University Extension specialist in human development. However, there are obstacles to contend with, not the least of which are the reasons the children are living with the grandparents: divorce, unemployment, neglect, abandonment, teen-age pregnancy or death of the parents. "A combination of social and economic problems in the last decade has made it more difficult for parents to carry out their parental responsibilities," Targ says. While it's nothing new, Targ says more grandparents are raising their grandchildren. According to 1990 census data, 2.3 million children in the United States under age 18 -- or 3.6 percent -- lived with their grandparents. By 1993, those figures had risen to 3.4 million, or 5 percent. (To retrieve a news release on this topic, send an e-mail message that says "send punews 9709a25" to or visit the PurdueNews Web site at CONTACT: Targ, (765) 494-2937; e-mail,

Parents play a major role in developing children's self-concept

A 5-year-old child already has developed about 80 percent of his or her self-concept, says Janet Gordon, a Purdue University Cooperative Extension specialist in consumer and family sciences. So parents play a big role in the development of how their children view themselves. "Parents often get hung up on tasks," Gordon says. They measure a child's success by developmental stages, such as when the child starts walking or talking. "More attention should focus on how a child feels about himself or herself," she says. Positive discipline, communication and interaction all help contribute to the development of a positive self-concept. According to Judy Myers-Walls, Purdue associate professor of child development and family studies, one way to improve self-concept is by helping children set reasonable goals, so they can celebrate small successes. She says goals should be individual, based on past performance, and have an end in sight. Children also should be encouraged to praise themselves and others. CONTACTS: Gordon, (765) 494-8252; Myers-Walls, (765) 494-2959; e-mail,

Elementary students and parents find a Purdue link to learning

When Purdue University researchers asked parents what concerned them about their children, the overwhelming response was that they worried about how their children would cope with a future of new technologies, a global economy and rapid change. Out of that concern, Purdue developed the Links to Learning program to improve children's problem-solving skills, which are key to adapting in a changing environment. The program educates parents about how the family contributes to children's learning by emphasizing the use of parent-child conversations and activities. Links to Learning is offered at elementary schools across Indiana and elsewhere in the nation. Research studies point to the elementary school years as a key time to support the role of parents in children's learning, says Douglas Powell, head of Purdue's Department of Child Development and Family Studies. "We found that as a result of Links to Learning, parents were engaging in more conversations with their children about school-related topics, they were more involved with their children's daily routines, and they strongly believed that good study habits and parental involvement were important contributions to children's academic achievement," he says. (To retrieve a news release on this topic, send an e-mail message that says "send punews 9703f6" to or visit the PurdueNews Web site at CONTACT: Powell (765) 494-9511; e-mail,

Parenting a teen requires great balance

It seems that children can turn into teen-agers almost overnight. When they do, moms and dads may need to change their parenting strategies, says the head of Purdue University's Department of Child Development and Family Studies. Douglas Powell says teen-agers want recognition of their growing autonomy and may rebel strongly against any signs that parents still view them as youngsters. "However, setting limits is still a good thing for parents to do during the teen-age years," Powell says. Communication may be the key to striking the balance in those years between childhood and becoming an adult. "It's important to acknowledge the feelings and ideas of children at all ages," Powell says. "Teen-agers especially are working through a lot of issues regarding their identity and peer group." He says listening is important, even when it's not convenient. CONTACT: Powell, (765) 494-9511; e-mail,

Compiled by Beth Forbes, (765) 494-9723; e-mail,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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