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Discontinuity view

The discontinuity view emphasizes change and growth in relationships over time. As people grow up, they develop many different types of relationships. Each of these relationships is structurally different, and with each new type of relationship, individuals encounter new modes of relating.

For example, Jean Piaget argued that parent-child relationships are different from children’s peer relationships. Parent-child relationships, he said, are more likely to consist of parents having unilateral authority over children. In parent-child relationships, since parents have greater knowledge and authority, their children often must learn how to conform to rules and regulations laid down by parents. By contrast, relationships with peers have a different structure and require a different mode of relating to others. Peer relationships are more likely to consist of participants who relate to each other on a much more equal basis.

A more unrestricted mode is involved in relationships with romantic partners, friends, and coworkers. Because two peers possess relatively equal knowledge and authority, children learn a democratic mode of relation that is based on mutual influence. With peers, children learn to formulate and assert their own opinions, appreciate the perspectives of peers, cooperatively negotiate solutions to disagreements, and evolve standards for conduct that are mutually acceptable.

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