Parenting Across Cultures
In all societies, one major task of parents is to enculturate children; that is, to prepare them for socially accepted physical, social-emotional, and psychological situations that are characteristic of the culture in which they are to survive and thrive (Levine, 1977). Thus, parenting is culturally constituted, and the meaning and developmental impact of parenting are mediated by culture. In this symposium, multi-cultural perspectives on various fundamental aspects of parenting will be reported in four papers. Observational and interview methodologies are applied to the study of parenting and child development during infancy, early and middle childhood within families across different cultures. First, what parents want for their children and how they think they can help are examined across Italy, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Poland, and the U.S. Next, how breastfeeding is expressed in the parenting ethnotheories and behaviors of German middle-class and farmer women from rural India and Cameroon are explored. The expression of Indian, Nepalese, Korean, Japanese, U.S., and German mothers' sensitivity and its associations with children`s development is then examined. Finally, why and how U.S., Chinese immigrant, Korean immigrant, and Turkish mothers value and express maternal warmth towards their preschoolers are presented. All the presenters will discuss the significance of parenting with attention to important cultural values and ideologies, as well as socio-cultural and contextual factors that are important for their respective samples. By doing so, we aim to increase our understanding of parenting and highlight the significance of contextual approaches to the study of parenting and child development.