Second Edition Handbook of Parenting Volume 1: Children and Parenting, Volume 2: Biology and Ecology of Parenting, Volume 3: Being and Becoming a Parent, Volume 4: Social Conditions and Applied Parenting, Volume 5: Practical Issues in Parenting, edited by Marc H. Bornstein, Mahwah, NJ, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc., 2002, 418 pp. Vol.1, 376 pp. Vol.2, 599 pp. Vol. 3, 410 pp. Vol. 4, 507 pp. Vol. 5, $65.00 per volume in hardcover.
In the preface to the Handbook of Parenting, Second Edition, editor Marc Bornstein states that he had originally intended to pen a comprehensive introduction to the five-volume set before realizing that a summary of the central themes and key issues in its 80 chapters amounted to a "monograph on parenting" in and of itself. Instead, he refers readers to the well-written and compelling introductory sections included in each chapter-the depth of expertise and diversity of perspectives represented in the new Handbook of Parenting is truly impressive and warrants attention from academics, clinicians, and researchers interested in virtually any aspect of parenting. Although such breadth could be daunting, the volumes are coherently organized by central themes to address topics such as the psychophysiological aspects of parenting, parenting in diverse contexts, and links between parenting and social institutions. Common threads are woven throughout the volumes that represent a unification of purpose among all the authors, to place parenting in context, and to celebrate the complexity of family relationships and the factors that shape them.
The Handbook of Parenting emphasizes the varied economic, cultural, and situational contexts in which parenting takes place, mirroring the field's growing exploration of the extant complexity of the forces that shape what it means to be a parent. For example, the first half of Volume 4 is devoted to parenting among diverse groups, reflecting the importance of examining cultural and social contributions to adaptive parenting. Chapters in this second edition go further in their examination of contextual influences on parenting than in the first edition, not only through revision of first edition chapters such as those addressing parenting in poverty (Magnuson & Duncan, Volume 4) and lesbian and gay parenting (Patterson, Volume 3), but also through inclusion of several new chapters about foster parenting (Haugaard & Hazan, Volume 1), parenting and reproductive technologies (Golombok, Volume 3); and Latino (Harwood et al., Volume 4), African-American (McAdoo, Volume 4), and Asian parenting (Chao & Tseng, Volume 4).
The Handbook of Parenting also emphasizes child contributions to parenting. The child is variously conceptualized as contextual factor, central focus, and outcome of the parenting process, highlighting that the child is a supplier of "novel and unexpected stimuli" for the parent, as Jack Demick states in his chapter on parental development. For example, in the first volume, various chapters explore how children themselves influence parenting, and several chapters in other volumes discuss bidirectional and transactional influences in the parent-child relationship (e.g., Patterson and Fisher's chapter on recent developments in our understanding of parenting in Volume 5). In addition, The Handbook of Parenting supplies an equally intricate conceptualization of parents themselves as both contributors to and beneficiaries of the experience of parenting, an achievement exemplified in chapters such as "Personality and Parenting," (Belsky & Barends, Volume 3), "Parenting Competence," (Teti & Candelaria, Volume 4), and "Stages of Parental Development," (Demick, Volume 3).
The first edition of the Handbook of Parenting was described in its preface as "not a book on how to parent, but rather one on what being a parent is all about." The focus of the second edition is extended to the "how," reflected in new chapters such as the ethics of parenting (Baumrind & Thompson, Volume 5) and what it means to coparent in diverse family systems (McHale et al., Volume 3). Further, sections at the end of each chapter provide practical information and implications for parents themselves. Although not written in lay language easily accessible for most parents, these sections will provide guidelines to professionals who work with parents and children in diverse settings and contexts.
Overall, Marc Bornstein and the more than 150 authors of the Handbook of Parenting, Second Edition have accomplished an astounding feat. They have brought historical perspective, social context, and contemporary research to bear in demystifying one of the most common, yet infinitely complex, human experiences-that of being a parent. Valuable both as a scientific reference and broad synthesis, this second edition of the Handbook of Parenting is a relevant and important contribution to the field.
Sarah Fine, Ph.D.
Bradley Hospital Early Childhood Research Center
Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior
Brown University School of Medicine
Providence, Rhode Island