The assessment of parenting: An exploratory research to analyse what a group of Roman citizens think about that

Rosa Maria Paniccia, Fiammetta Giovagnoli, Cecilia Sesto, Giulia Bernardini, Chiara Monaldi


This paper reports the data of an exploratory research conducted with a group of Roman citizens who were asked what they thought about the possibility of assessing the parenting of families considered at risk over the parental expertise.
Citizens were interviewed and the interviews were submitted to AET, Emotional Analysis of the Text. Assessing parenting often involves families with internal conflicts. We think the conflict is not only there. Conflicts also cross the theoretical, legal, and political hypotheses, which base the opportunity to intervene within the issues involved in parental evaluation. They are also found in the relationship between families and services. Legal and sociological literature advise the presence of these conflicts and discuss the issues; whereas the psychological and psychiatric one is focused on the application of techniques, whether they are evaluation, psychotherapy, re-education. This perspective does not consider the conflicting complexity which founds the parental evaluation, but it is focused only on the family. We were interested in analysing, in this context, what is the citizens’ perception of the evaluation of parenting, who are their potential customers and users; in particular, if and how these conflictual dynamics are perceived by them.
After the analysis of the interview, the data outline three cultures.
One proposes the traditional Italian family, the feminised family and designated to the care of members in difficulty within the home wall; family today in a strong crisis within processes of change. Another proposes the centrality of the court and the legal culture, founded on evaluations and resolving actions that often can result in child custody actions.
These two cultures contrast: when the traditional family is missing, the court appears. There is no counseling which concerns the changes of the family. Psychological and neuropsychiatric counseling agencies do not appear in the data, except for social services, in any case subordinated to the court.
A third culture proposes an “ideal” adult, who with balance and reflection skills, has to face a fearful context, but it is an isolated individual, without a relational context of reference. This culture seems to opposite the dissolution of relational contexts – state, organizations, family – to the idealized individual, self-determined and alone. The development of psychological function in the assessment of parenting concerns two aspects: the importance of studying the complexity of the social mandate and the intervention with the conflicting relationships of the family and of all the other actors involved.


parenting skills; family; conflict; change; psychological intervention; social coexistence.

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Rivista di Psicologia Clinica. Teoria e metodi dell'intervento

Rivista Telematica a Carattere Scientifico Registrazione presso il Tribunale civile di Roma (n.149/2006 del 17/03/2006)

ISSN 1828-9363