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The University of Southampton
Economic, Social and Political Sciences

Professor Edwards shares ‘reasons to be cheerful’ with Radio 4 listeners

Published: 11 January 2012 Origin:  Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology

Professor Rosalind Edwards was part of the 'Reasons to be Cheerful' Radio 4 programme broadcast 7 January 2012, talking about the nature of past and contemporary relationships between parents and children.

Professor Edwards was asked to participate in the programme because of her research into family lives and relationships. In particular, she has been carrying out historical comparative work, looking at aspects of the ways that parents understand bringing up their children nowadays compared with half a century ago.

She was recorded in discussion with the actress Meera Syal. One of the reasons Meera was cheerful about contemporary life was because she felt that relationships between parents and children had changed – that her children could come to her and talk about their worries in contrast to her own more respectful and boundaried relationship with her parents.

Professor Edwards spoke of the distinction between the ‘families we live by’ – the images that we have of family life in the past, and our hopes for family life in the present; and the ‘families we live in’ – the realities of everyday family life with all the stumbling blocks as well as joys that can involve. The qualities of the relationship between parents and their children in the past are likely to have been just as complex as they are today. Nonetheless, open communication between parents and children is a leitmotif of contemporary society in a way that it has not been in the past.

The discussion concluded that an ‘improved’ quality of communication between parents and children was a reason to be cheerful about contemporary life.

The broadcast is available to listen to here until 13 January

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