Get Adobe Flash player
COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Introduction to the First Edition many schools have not creatively adapted their parent involvement components to match the lives of dual-career or single-parent families. Failure to adapt to these social changes stresses our children. Fifty years ago, projections were made that filling our lei- sure hours would be the challenge for most Americans in the 1990s. This has not proven to be true. Adults work more hours than ever. The Harris Poll reports that since 1973, free time has fallen nearly 40 percent, from a median figure of twenty- six hours a week to slightly under seventeen hours. At the same time, research shows that employed hours have risen for Americans in all income categories (Schor 1991). We spend less time with family and friends. The debates of the 1980s over quality time versus quantity time have disappeared. Today, for many, it is a stretch to find any time together! By now, I’m sure the reader is asking, “What does all of this have to do with Piaget and Erikson?” Teachers in early childhood programs spend many hours discussing child and family struggles. Many of the teachers I talk with are dis- couraged. “The behavior problems are too much to handle,” they tell me. Some of them blame parents. Some even make statements like, “If parents don’t want to care for their kids, then why do they have them?” This attitude usually comes from the frustration of having daily interactions with children in pain. When we can’t make it better, we want someone to blame, and parents are an easy target. Many parents are stressed too. They know their long hours are taking a toll on family life. Like teachers, they often don’t know what to do to make it better. This is where Erikson, Piaget, and the other theorists come in. When I ask teachers what they learned in college that might help them respond to children under stress, many of them just laugh. Some make comments such as “I could never keep all of those theorists straight” or “That textbook 7 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL