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Socializing Accountability: Relations between Parent-Child Interaction and Sibling Caretaking Stylistic Repertoire

Christina Gonerko


Marjorie H. Goodwin


Eve Tulbert

UCLA Sloan Center on Everyday Lives of Families
Working Paper No. 78


In this paper we investigate the ways in which parents give directives to children in their attempts to get children to do something (Goodwin 2006), and closely examine the styles of negotiation as well as embodied participation frameworks (including facing formations, facial expressions, and gestures) they make use of in attempting to gain compliance. We next examine practices that children of these families in a sibling caretaking role use to organize similar activities with younger siblings. We present data from two dual-earner, middle class families studied by the UCLA Center for Everyday Lives of Families (Family 26, the Randolfs and Family 1, the Andersons) to investigate two alternative parenting and related sibling caretaking styles that emerge in the course of organizing activities. The abilities of sibling caretakers in the Randolf family to socialize their younger sibling to perform important household chores defies the notion that siblings in western industrialized countries take on only peripheral “custodial” caretaking roles (Cicirelli 1994.) The Randolf parents as well as sibling caretakers make use of a highly successful controlling caretaking style that demands high levels of accountability for performing the task in question from their interlocutors. We argue that in an era when families in post-industrialized societies are “busier than ever” (Darah, Freeman and English-Lueck 2007) understanding child rearing and related sibling caretaking practices that lead to the smooth and successful orchestration of household chores and fulfillment of family obligations can be quite important for relieving the stresses of everyday life in twenty-first century overburdened dual-earner households.

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