This research was undertaken to expand our understanding of how parents extend their perception and presentation of themselves through their young children’s appearance. The study is rooted in Belk’s theory of possessions as extensions of the self (1988), which suggests that others, as well as objects, can serve in this capacity. Fourteen parents of young children were interviewed via a series of semi-structured questions and a photo elicitation technique to gather information about their children’s appearance and grooming. We found that mothers generally serve as the gatekeepers of children’s appearance, both mothers and fathers view their children’s appearance as being extensions of themselves, and both parents utilize their children to create and maintain their own identities. This research contributes to the study of the symbolic relationship between our possessions and ourselves by providing insights into an under-studied object of the extended self: the other.
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- Young Children as Parents’ Extended Selves
Dr. Mine Ucok Hughes
Dr. Karen Kaigler-Walker