Changes in parental behavior were investigated in Cologne, West Germany, in 1960 and 1968, and upstate New York in 1960–62 and 1965, using ratings made by 6th-grade school children. Changes in the family as a social system were expected to be toward more openness to the external environment and less role differentiation among family members. These trends were used to predict decreases over time in ‘traditional’ behaviors of nurturance, physical punishment, protectiveness, and prescription of responsibilities; and increases in ‘modern’ behaviors of instrumental companionship, achievement demands, principled discipline, deprivation of privileges, and indulgence. The hypothesized changes were confirmed for 7 parental behaviors. Also found were: convergence of Germans and Americans on 7 of 11 variables, convergence of mothers and fathers on 4 variables, trends toward divergence of boys’ and girls’ ratings, general increase in parenting by fathers relative to mothers, general decrease in parenting received by girls relative to boys, and increase in ‘professionalization’ of the parental role described by American children. Several interpretations are offered alternative to the hypothesis that the family as a social system is tending toward dissolution.

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