FRAME includes the philosophies, perspectives, theories, frameworks, paradigms, schools of thought, worldviews, and models to guide parenting professionals in designing programs of education and in making recommendations for children, parents, and families. Many different frameworks are used by parenting educators to understand parent-child relationships. Parenting educators FRAME parent-child relationships in many different ways. They also draw on frameworks and assumptions when they advise parents on how to deal with difficulties in their relationships with children.

Critical FRAME Practices

To FRAME, a parenting educator will

  • Describe many different theories used to organize and understand parent-child interactions.
  • Outline major schools of thought in parenting education (e.g., democratic, humanistic, developmental, attachment, genetic, socially conscious, behaviorist, social learning, communication).
  • Check assumptions and theories used within various parenting programs; establish their consistency with program recommendations.
  • Identify concepts and practices in parents’ words and actions that may indicate their orientation or personal frameworks.
  • Assist parents to discover their assumptions and consider other views.
  • Help parents find practices consistent with their values and philosophies.
  • Describe how different frameworks may be used to address different issues.

Examples of Specific Professional Objectives for FRAME

The following parenting educator behaviors serve as examples of more specific objectives based on the critical practices for FRAME:

The parenting educator should be able to

  • Describe three major frameworks that are important in helping parents understand and respond to their children’s behavior.
  • Explain the general recommendations and appropriate uses of three frameworks.
  • Synthesize a number of frameworks into a personal philosophy of parenting education.
  • Identify the frameworks that guide the recommendations made by various parenting programs.
  • Demonstrate the ability to work with groups of parents on choices that are consistent with their diverse personal philosophies and desired outcomes for their children.

What We Know About FRAME

For some parenting educators, the use of a communications framework (Gordon, 2000) is crucial to their understanding of parent-child relationships. Thus, their emphasis is on reflective listening skills and the use of “I” messages. Other professionals, however, may approach parenting education from a humanistic orientation (Ginott, 1965). This framework views children as having a natural tendency toward positive growth. Consequently, their principal message to parents is to love, support, and teach their children. Parenting educators who subscribe to a behavioral paradigm (Canter & Canter, 1992) will view the use of rewards and punishments as key elements in parent-child relationships. A developmental framework (Berger, 2001) emphasizes the stages and progress of human development.

These are just a few of the many frameworks used by parenting educators. An awareness of multiple frameworks, allows a parent educator to better understand challenging parenting questions. Most professionals use a combination of frameworks to make sense of parent-child relationships. Successful parenting educators understand the value of frameworks for developing effective educational programs for parents. Judicious use of frameworks to guide the instructional design is likely to make the program objectives, educational activities, and parenting recommendations more powerful and effective.

Frameworks or theories grow out of efforts to make sense of scientific observations (Thomas, 1992). While the frameworks themselves are rarely tested directly, they are often used to make sense of research findings. As the study of parent-child relationships continues to mature, some frameworks that make the program objectives, educational activities, and parenting recommendations powerful and effective are likely to become increasingly prominent while others may fade. We can also expect new frameworks to be “invented” to help us better understand parent-child relationships.

Different frameworks are useful for understanding different areas of behavior. For example, with parents concerned about toilet learning, a developmental framework is likely to be very useful: “Does the child have adequate muscle control and the desire to be toilet trained?” A parent dealing with sibling rivalry may find a humanistic framework to be of help: “Does each child have an opportunity to receive adequate attention and love in the family?” For those parents wishing to understand children’s temperaments and preferences, a biological framework may prove quite informative: “What are your child’s preferences for activity? Sleep?” The attachment framework can be helpful in explaining an infant’s clinginess: “Has a hectic schedule recently kept one or both parents from providing a safe base for the baby?”

The awareness of multiple frameworks prepares an educator to help parents deal with different situations and circumstances.

Parents and parenting educators are best equipped when they can apply multiple frameworks to guide childrearing. Because different frameworks provide different advantages in dealing with different situations, it is helpful for parents to be familiar with a variety of perspectives. When that breadth of knowledge is combined with good problem-solving skills, parents are more likely to be able to respond helpfully to their children’s struggles (Brock, Oertwein, & Coufal, 1993). When parenting educators are comfortable with multiple frameworks, they are better able to coach parents. A knowledge and appreciation of multiple frameworks allows a parenting educator to equip parents with options.

One of the factors that distinguishes excellent parenting education from mediocre parenting education is the wise and balanced use of frameworks. When programs of excellence use multiple frameworks, they can draw on the best theories and research in providing parents with a variety of research-proven tools. Less respected parenting programs make a hodgepodge of recommendations without tying them to an understanding of how children develop or parents learn. When parenting educators ground their programs in a framework, the program is more likely to be helpful and to be perceived as credible.

Year published or updated
References & Resources

Brock, G. W., Oertwein, M., & Coufal, J. D. (1993). Parent education: Theory, research, and practice. In M. E. Arcus, J. D. Schvaneveldt, & J. J. Moss (Eds.), Handbook of family life education: The practice of family life education, Vol. 2, 87-114. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Canter, L., & Canter, M. (1992). Assertive discipline. Santa Monica, CA: Lee Canter & Associates.

Ginott, H. (1965). Between parent and child. New York, NY: Macmillan.

Goddard, H. W. (October 4, 2001). Great Discoveries about Humans. Arkansas Parenting Education Network Networking Day. Little Rock, AR.

Gordon, T. (2000). Parent Effectiveness Training: The proven program for raising responsible children. New York, NY: Crown Publishing Group.

Thomas, R. M. (1992). Comparing theories of child development. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Wandersman, L.P. (1987). New directions for parent education. In S. L. Kagan, D. R. Powell, B. Weissbourd, & E. F. Zigler (Eds.), America’s family support programs (pp. 207-227). New Haven, CN: Yale University Press.

Author(s), Presenter(s)
DeBord, K., Bower, D., Goddard, W. H., Kirby, J., Kobbe, A. M., Myers-Walls, J. A., Mulroy, M., and Ozretich, R. A.