Parents and children in different cultures – Part II

By on July 19, 2017

You might have heart of the book How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm: And Other Adventures in Parenting (from Argentina to Tanzania and everywhere)… by Mei- Ling Hopgood. I’ve recently managed to finish it and I wanted to emphasize some more things about the differences between parenting styles in different cultures. After reading the book I am not sure if I still can make a difference between what good or bad parenting is like. 

A different approach

After reading the book and some articles and studies, I observed that besides their main characteristics, cultures are changing because of globalisation and immigration factors. New parents are coming into new societies and are bringing with them different beliefs and behaviors. We can easily see these in classrooms where the teachers need to understand and learn how to behave with children from different cultures. Moreover, they need to respect their beliefs and needs and try to integrate them as they are. We can easily see this aspect during the kindergarten period when children and parents are confronted with different approaches from other. 

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A study about immigration

A study about immigration states that “immigrant parents discuss the challenges of overcoming fears of the unknown; navigating unfamiliar work, school, and neighborhood environments; encountering and confronting racism; and losing family connections and other forms of social capital.” All these aspects influence the way children and parents are integrated in a society and model their parenting style.

“Bicultural” parenting

Moreover, living in two different cultures can lead to a “bicultural” parenting style. The secret is to try to get the best of both cultures and try to integrate them in order to get the best out of them. For example, some researchers consider that one good example could be if Spanish parents can help other Western cultures appreciate the developmental value in allowing children to participate fully in family life during the evenings.

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Each culture gives us a lesson

Each culture is unique. For example, French parents are known as experts for turning their babies into healthy eaters. Tibetans worship pregnancy and believe that the most important thing for the pregnant woman is to stay mentally healthy. Japanese are well known for letting their children fight in schools.

Cultures shape us

The culture a baby is born into has a big impact on the parenting styles and, later, the way the baby learns. There is one study which looked at mothers’ natural interactions with their three-month-old infants across communities in rural West Africa, rural India, Costa Rica, Greece, and Germany. The study highlighted the different ways mothers interacted with their babies. For example, West African, Indian, and Costa Rican mothers used more body contact and body stimulation, whereas German and Greek mothers used more object stimulation and face-to-face interaction. The first cultures mentioned are more interdependent, while the latest are more independent.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

In conclusion, the book and the research that followed were more of an educational adventure around the world about parents and their children. These kind of books not only give you more perspective, but help you understand the real ‘why’ behind other cultures.


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