This study seeks to examine how both parents and children contribute interactionally to the dialogic process of negotiating their divergent opinions during mealtime conversations. Within a data corpus comprising 30 video-recorded meals of 10 Swiss and Italian families, 132 argumentative discussions were selected for qualitative analysis by adopting the pragma-dialectical model of a critical discussion. Despite the differences in roles, age, and competencies between parents and children—which help explain both the higher number of different arguments used by parents and the fact that the most frequent type of conclusion was when the child accepted the parent's standpoint—the findings of the pragma-dialectical analysis indicate that the process of negotiating the divergent opinions between parents and children is a co-constructed dialogic process wherein both parties play a fundamental role. By engaging in argumentative discussions, parents accept the commitment of clarifying to their children the reasons on which their standpoints are based. Children, in turn, encourage their parents to advance arguments to justify their standpoints by asking questions. Argumentative discussions in the family context should thus be viewed as a bidirectional dialogical process that opens a shared space for parents and children to think together.
- ideal model of a critical discussion
- qualitative research
- Parent-Child interaction