Parental Capacity

Socialization, advocacy, and protection are important aspects of parental capacity (Barnum 2002). Parents have a responsibility to promote positive and social behaviors by providing adequate and consistent supervision and by setting developmentally appropriate limits on negative or antisocial behavior. Parents should foster the emotional development of the child by providing support, guidance, and direction. Chess and Thomas (1984) used the term "goodness of fit" to characterize the harmonious interaction between a mother and a child in regard to their capacities and styles of behavior. A poor fit is likely to lead to distorted development and maladaptive functioning.

Parents are expected to provide a safe and secure environment and protection from physical harm or exposure to emotional trauma, such as domestic violence and sexual or emotional abuse. Serious emotional injury may manifest as worsening of the child's behavior at home or in the community. A child with a difficult temperament places greater demands on the parent and is at higher risk of being abused. Parents must recognize and assist children with mental or physical disabilities, provide appropriate medical care for children with medical illnesses, and ensure that their children maintain satisfactory school attendance. Parents who cannot provide these basic functions may be defined as neglectful of their children's medical, emotional, or educational needs.

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