Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bernstein & Triger: "Over-Parenting"

Gaia Bernstein (Seton Hall University School of Law) and Zvi Triger (The College of Management School of Law (Israel)) have posted "Over-Parenting" (forthcoming UC Davis Law Review) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Today the child is king. Child rearing practices have changed significantly over the last two decades. Contemporary parents engage in Intensive Parenting. Parents devote their time to actively enriching the child, ensuring the child’s individual needs are addressed and he is able to reach his full potential. They also keep abreast of the newest child rearing knowledge and consistently monitor the child’s progress and whereabouts. Parents are expected to be cultivating, informed and monitoring. To satisfy these high standards, parents utilize a broad array of technological devices, such as the cellular phone and the Internet, making Intensive Parenting a socio-technological trend.

Many legal doctrines aim at defining the scope of parental responsibilities; yet, courts, legislatures and scholars alike have ignored this significant change in child rearing practices. Unattended, the law already plays an important role in enhancing the socio-technological trend of Intensive Parenting. In the area of custody disputes, legislatures and courts effectively enforce Intensive Parenting norms. Other recent legal developments, such as the constriction of the Parental Immunity Doctrine and recurring transformation of preferred child rearing practices into legal standards, open the door to the incorporation of additional Intensive Parenting norms into the law.

This Article underscores that despite its advantages, Intensive Parenting can become over-parenting. First, the Article shows that Intensive Parenting is not a universal trend. It is class, race, ethnicity and culture dependent. Enforcement of Intensive Parenting in a multicultural society would increase existing biases in the child welfare system and force Intensive Parenting on those who may be financially unable or ideologically unwilling to adopt it. Second, the Article reveals that although Intensive Parenting carries important advantages it can disrupt healthy psychological development in children. The Article, therefore, cautions against hasty incorporation of Intensive Parenting norms into the law.


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