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The Handbook of Lifespan Communication

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Edited By Jon F. Nussbaum

The Handbook of Lifespan Communication is the foundational scholarly text that offers readers a state of the art view of the varied and rich areas of lifespan communication research. The fundamental assumptions of lifespan communication are that the very nature of human communication is developmental, and, to truly understand communication, change across time must be incorporated into existing theory and research. Beginning with chapters on lifespan communication theory and methodologies, chapters are then organized into the various phases of life: early childhood, adolescence, emerging adulthood, middle adulthood, and older adulthood. Top scholars across several disciplines have contributed to chapters within their domains of expertise, highlighting significant horizons that will guide researchers for years to come.
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Chapter Four: Parent-Infant Communication

← 70 | 71 → CHAPTER FOUR

Extract

BETH BONNIWELL HASLETT AND WENDY SAMTER

Note: The authors contributed equally to this chapter

It is no exaggeration to say that children’s earliest communicative interactions have lifetime implications for their future success—in terms of social and emotional well-being, as well as academic and career achievement. In what follows, we explore the capacities infants and young children bring to interaction, and how parents and other caretakers respond to them—it is this give-and-take that forms the foundation of communicative and social development (Yingling, 1995).

At the outset, we need to acknowledge that there is significant diversity in the configuration of families today—single-parent families, traditional families, blended families, homosexual families, and families with adopted children. By 2015, one-third of the U.S. population will be composed of people of color (Sherif & Haemon, 2007). Amid these population shifts also comes more varied communication and cultural practices, and many will be reflected in family interaction patterns. Moreover, it is important to note that increasing diversity in cultural practices is not just a U.S. phenomenon. Globalization is a major factor transforming life across developing and developed nation-states (Trask, 2010) and influences how families are configured, their child-rearing practices, and thus their children’s social, emotional, and physical well-being (Shaffer, Joplin, & Hsu, 2011). While the scope of this chapter prohibits us from tackling any of these issues in depth, we will discuss, whenever possible, cultural and family diversity in how early interactions are developed. Acknowledging that one model...

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