How can I improve socialization


Désirée Waterstradt

To person

M.A., born 1964; Marketing, Public Relations and Crisis Communication Consultant; currently PhD on parenting at the PH Karlsruhe / Sociology, Georg-Angermair-Straße 1, 81245 Munich. [email protected]

The current understanding of socialization makes it clear that the socialization of people lasts for a lifetime. We do not develop the complex facets of our identity out of ourselves in the course of our lives, but above all in our relationships with other people - as a constant, active appropriation of our social environment. "Socialization describes (...) the process in the course of which the human organism, provided with a biological endowment, develops into a socially capable personality that develops over the course of a life in dealing with the living conditions. Socialization is the lifelong acquisition of and dealing with the natural dispositions, in particular the physical and psychological foundations, which form the 'inner reality' for humans, and the social and physical environment, which form the 'outer reality' for humans. "[1]

Parents play a central role in socialization theory: They should be the first relationship partner and relationship standard of every person; as such, they should act as training partners, setting standards of assessment and emotional bridges to other networked relationships; Parents should establish the primary socialization instance of the family by living together permanently with their children. [2] The social and scientific interest in the socialization of children by parents is understandably great.

Socialization as parents

The results of behavioral research make an essential aspect of human parenting clear: When dealing with one's own offspring, there is hardly any genetically based, "natural" behavior in humans; that is, they must first acquire them in the course of their lives. So you have to be socialized to parenthood in order to learn how to deal with offspring. To this extent, human parenting is always social parenting, even if it has an indispensable biological basis.

Biological foundations can, however, be strengthened or weakened by the respective concepts of social parenting - as the handling of breastfeeding shows, for example, parenting concepts of upper social classes already provided for a wet nurse in antiquity and up into the 19th century, if possible. [3] In the lower social classes, the work-related low frequency of breastfeeding and the inadequate, often health-endangering infant nutrition with animal milk or porridge caused a dramatically high infant mortality rate up until the beginning of the 20th century; Breastfeeding could also be uncommon in entire regions - for example, in some parts of Bavaria before 1900 there was generally hardly any breastfeeding. [4]

The respective social parenting pattern dictates who is responsible for which tasks in the socialization of children in which phase, how these people are called, what relationships the various participants should have with one another and how the respective relationships should develop further later. They also specify which behavior, thinking, speaking and feeling go hand in hand with the respective positions and thus shape the children. Patterns of parenthood, however, cannot exist beyond people and their societies, but require them as carriers of these patterns. Only when people internalize it physically and psychologically can they embody it, pass it on and thereby maintain - or change - social parenting patterns. As carriers of such patterns, people "know", for example, whether a woman should breastfeed her child or not.

The change in social behavior patterns can often be observed in the conceptual concepts that represent them. In our language area, for example, the term "Eltern" could still be spelled as "Aeltern" until the German spelling was standardized about 100 years ago. This notation suggests that relationships with children at that time were not primarily about direct genetic descent, but about the aspect of social age. As early as the Middle Ages, the principle of descent was relaxed in north-western Europe, [5] which led to an expanded, more flexible assumption of responsibility by the socially older for the development of the socially younger.

The parenting patterns lived in human societies can also be referred to as the habitus [6] of parenting. It belongs to the social "environment" in which people grow up, and it therefore becomes second nature to them in its respective society-specific variant - just like the respective language, for example. People perceive the parental habitus specific to their society as "natural" and the parental habitus of other times or societies as "unnatural", often even as threatening or inhuman. The habitus of parenthood is of central importance for every society in order to guarantee its generativity and future. Real ideals and dream images of parenthood develop on this basis.

The habitus of parenthood is part of all social standards and structures. These let individual parents know whether their personal parenting habit is still within or already outside of the social parenting habit. This is also shown by the society-specific patterns of "gossip of praise and abuse" [7] about parenthood, which are often passed on over many generations - such as our expression of the "bad mother". Depending on the leeway, violations of the respective social parenting habit are sanctioned to a greater or lesser extent by the surrounding society. Sanctions range from slight shaming to instructions, gossip, reprimands and moderate penalties to imprisonment, torture and the death penalty. While infanticide, for example, was customary for a long time in ancient times and in the Middle Ages as a kind of extended, postnatal "birth control", it was later followed by the death penalty.

Importance of parenting habit

The difference between "socialization by parents" and "socialization as parents" fundamentally changes the perspective of parenthood. But despite the enormous conceptual difference, the two can only be kept apart to a limited extent in everyday practice. Because from an early age we get to know the parenting habit of our society. Whether we like it or not, whether we have children ourselves or not: All people internalize the social parenting habit of their society from an early age, psychologically and physically. Just as lifelong language acquisition becomes a very personal language style, so does the acquisition of the social Parenthood habit to personal Parenthood habit. Both are not rigid, but are constantly evolving.

In their life as children, adolescents, adults or old people, people always carry their internalized conceptions of parenthood into all relationships and socialize others to parenthood - through expectations, behavior, speech, ways of thinking, positive and negative feelings, gestures, facial expressions, shame and countless other habitus aspects. Since people are relational beings, the social habitus as well as the personal habitus developed from it always have the character of a challenge. As much as the freedom of choice may have increased in a number of societies and as much as we strengthen them rhetorically, they find their limits in the basic principles of order in human societies - such as in habitus.

Based on the communication researcher Paul Watzlawick, it could be said that people "don't mutually" Not socialize "- also and especially on the subject of parenting. The high level of emotionalism in the debates on this topic confirms this anew every day: While we do not care about many other habitus aspects if we are not affected, everyone seems to be affected quickly when it comes to parenting and makes deviations from one's own personal parental habit appear threatening. Questioning it seems like an earthquake for the balance of our network of relationships and in an immediate chain reaction endangers many fundamental aspects of our life - such as feelings, professional position, partnership. Considerable changes of social parenthood make a fundamental reinterpretation of our entire previous life necessary: ​​Was everything wrong, what we previously thought to be right, natural and irrevocable, what we thought and felt, what we thought and felt about our lives and our social relationships have aligned?

Conversely, people with their personal parental habit can only swim against the social tide to a very limited extent. For example, the local structure of the world of work and childcare reflects our parenting habit and leads to a very pronounced traditionalization of parental gender roles in the years after the birth of a child. In view of the claim to equality, this leads to numerous open and hidden conflicts in partnership, work and other areas of life - not to mention the internal conflicts of those involved.

Lack of gender neutrality

That parenthood is not gender neutral and as a central basis of the doing gender applies, we internalized from an early age. It is society-specific whether certain functions of parenthood are primarily attributed to women or men or to both genders. How much we are socially convinced of the gender-specific "nature" of parenthood is already shown by the deeply anchored concepts of female parenthood as "motherhood" and male parenthood as "fatherhood". Even sociological lexicons do not know the concept of parenthood, but merely refer to family and gender-dual concepts such as "childhood", "sociology of the family", "fatherhood" and "motherhood". [8]

Gender research has long shown how problematic the gender category is in relation to parenting habit: Either gender is naturalized as a category that does not require further explanation, despite better socialization knowledge, or it is disguised in the linguistically gender-neutral concept of parenting. Since no other conceptual concepts of parenthood are available to us so far, we have to fall back on either the naturalizing-gendered or gender-disguising terms, depending on the context and ideals of parenting: in laws, scientific studies, family support measures, games, division of household functions. Our linguistic conceptual concepts convey different aspects of the parenthood habitus of earlier societies embedded in the language development process and thus suggest descriptions of parenthood that create numerous contradictions to our modern patchwork identities.