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The purpose of the parenting class


The purpose of the parenting class

The purpose of the parenting class

Assignment Instructions

Week 2

During weeks 1 and 2 you have explored how parenting expectations, experiences and styles are influenced by many factors. The learning resources suggest several ways to provide parenting information and related family supports. For Assignment 1 due Week 2 you will use this information to create an enticing flyer for a parenting class that is designed to help prepare new parents. Your flyer should include: The purpose of the parenting class

1. The purpose of the parenting class – including why it is important

2. At least 5 distinct topics that will be addressed in the class noting why each is important. Be sure to cite resources to back this up.

3. Be creative – how would you entice parents or parents to be to come?

Flyer length minimum 500 words, 2 academic references used, MS word or RTF format only.


Possible grade

Student grade

The paper addresses the issues specified by the assignment   – 5 parenting topics described.


The author shows insight and sophistication in thinking   and writing


Two academic references were used with corresponding   citations in the body of the paper


Paper was well organized and easy to follow. Paper was the   required length. Cover page, paper body, citations and Reference list were in   the American Psychological Association format.


Few to no spelling, grammar, punctuation or other writing   structure errors





  • attachmentWEEK2NEWASSIGNMENT2.docx

Assignment Instructions

Week 2

During weeks 1 and 2 you have explored how parenting expectations, experiences and styles are influenced by many factors. The learning resources suggest several ways to provide parenting information and related family supports. For Assignment 1 due Week 2 you will use this information to create an enticing flyer for a parenting class that is designed to help prepare new parents. Your flyer should include:

1. The purpose of the parenting class – including why it is important

2. At least 5 distinct topics that will be addressed in the class noting why each is important. Be sure to cite resources to back this up.

3. Be creative – how would you entice parents or parents to be to come?

Flyer length minimum 500 words, 2 academic references used, MS word or RTF format only.

 Possible gradeStudent grade
The paper addresses the issues specified by the assignment – 5 parenting topics described.20 
The author shows insight and sophistication in thinking and writing30 
Two academic references were used with corresponding citations in the body of the paper20 
Paper was well organized and easy to follow. Paper was the required length. Cover page, paper body, citations and Reference list were in the American Psychological Association format.20 
Few to no spelling, grammar, punctuation or other writing structure errors10 




PARENTING: SCIENCE AND PRACTICE, 12: 212–221, 2012 ISSN: 1529-5192 print / 1532-7922 online DOI: 10.1080/15295192.2012.683359

Cultural Approaches to Parenting

Marc H. Bornstein


This article first introduces some main ideas behind culture and parenting and next addresses philosophical rationales and methodological considerations central to cultural approaches to parenting, including a brief account of a cross-cultural study of parenting. It then focuses on universals, specifics, and distinctions between form (behavior) and function (meaning) in parenting as embedded in culture. The article concludes by pointing to social policy implications as well as future directions prompted by a cultural approach to parenting.


Every culture is characterized, and distinguished from other cultures, by deeply rooted and widely acknowledged ideas about how one needs to feel, think, and act as a functioning member of the culture. Cross-cultural study affirms that groups of people possess different beliefs and engage in different behaviors that may be normative in their culture but are not necessarily normative in another culture. Cultural groups thus embody particular characteristics that are deemed essential or advantageous to their members. These beliefs and behaviors tend to persist over time and constitute the val- ued competencies that are communicated to new members of the group. Central to a concept of culture, therefore, is the expectation that different cultural groups possess distinct beliefs and behave in unique ways with respect to their parenting. Cultural variations in parenting beliefs and behaviors are impressive, whether observed among different, say ethnic, groups in one society or across societies in different parts of the world. This article addresses the rapidly increasing research interest in cultural dif- ferences in parenting. It first takes up philosophical underpinnings, rationales, and methodological considerations central to cultural approaches to parenting, describes a cross-cultural study of parenting, and then addresses some core issues in cultural approaches to parenting, namely, universals, specifics, and the form-versus-function distinction. It concludes with an overview of social policy implications and future directions of cultural approaches to parenting.


Culture isusefully conceived of as theset ofdistinctive patterns ofbeliefs and behaviors that are shared by a group of people and that serve to regulate their daily living. These beliefsandbehaviorsshapehowparentscarefortheiroffspring.Thus,havingexperienced

This article not subject to US copyright law.


unique patterns of caregiving is a principal reason that individuals in different cultures are who they are and often differ so from one another. Culture helps to construct parentsandparenting,andcultureismaintainedandtransmittedbyinfluencingparental cognitions that in turn are thought to shape parenting practices (Bornstein & Lansford, 2010; Harkness et al., 2007). Children’s experiences with their parents within a cultural context consequently scaffold them to become culturally competent members of their society. For example, European American and Puerto Rican mothers of toddlers believe in the differential value of individual autonomy versus connected interdependence, a contrast that in turn relates to mothers’ actual caregiving (Harwood, Schoelmerich, Schulze,&Gonzalez, 1999):WhereEuropeanAmericanmothersusesuggestions (rather thancommands)andotherindirectmeansofstructuringtheirchildren’sbehavior,Puerto Rican mothers use more direct means of structuring, such as commands, physical positioning and restraints, and direct attempts to recruit their children’s attention. Parents normally organize and distribute their caregiving faithful to indigenous cul-

tural belief systems and behavior patterns. Indeed, culturally constructed beliefs can be so powerful that parents are known to act on them, setting aside what their senses might tell them about their own children. For example, parents in most societies speak tobabiesandrightlysee themascomprehending interactivepartners longbefore infants produce language, whereas parents in some societies think that it is nonsensical to talk to infants before children themselves are capable of speech (Ochs, 1988). Cultural cognitionsandpractices instantiate themes thatcommunicateconsistentcul-

tural messages (Quinn & Holland, 1987). For example, in the United States personal choice is firmly rooted in principles of liberty and freedom, is closely bound up with howindividualsconceiveof themselvesandmakesenseof their lives, and isapersistent and significant construct in the literature on parenting (Tamis-LeMonda & McFadden, 2010). Moreover, culture-specific patterns of childrearing can be expected to adapt to eachsociety’sspecificsettingandneeds.Forexample,younginfantsamongthenomadic hunter-gatherer Aka are more likely to be held and fed in close proximity to their care- givers than are infants from Ngandu farming communities who are more likely to be left by themselves, even though these two traditional groups live close to one another in central Africa (Hewlett, Lamb, Shannon, Leyendecker, & Schölmerich, 1998). Aka par- ents are reasoned to maintain closer proximity to infants because the group moves in search of food more frequently than do Ngandu. Generational, social, and media images—culture—of caregiving and childhood play

formative roles in generating parenting cognitions and guiding parenting practices (Bornstein & Lansford, 2010). Parenting thus embeds cultural models and meanings into basic psychological processes which maintain or transform the culture (Bornstein, 2009). Reciprocally, culture expresses and perpetuates itself through parenting. Parents bring certain cultural proclivities to interactions with their children, and parents inter- pret even similar characteristics in children within their culture’s frame of reference; parents then encourage or discourage characteristics as appropriate or detrimental to adequate functioning within the group.


The move toward a culturally richer understanding of parenting has given rise to a set of important questions about parenting (Bornstein, 2001). What is normative parenting


and to what extent does it vary with culture? What are the historical, economic, social, or other sources of cultural variation in parenting norms? How does culture embed into parenting cognitions and practices and manifest and maintain itself through parenting? There is definite need and significance for a cultural approach to parenting science.

Descriptively it is invaluable for revealing the full range of human parenting. The study of parenting across cultures also furnishes a check against an ethnocentric world view of parenting. Acceptance of findings from any one culture as “normative” of parent- ing is too narrow in scope, and ready generalizations from them to parents at large are blindingly uncritical. Comparison across cultures is also valuable because it augments anunderstandingof theprocesses throughwhichbiologicalvariables fusewithenviron- mental variables and experiences. Parenting needs to be considered in its socio-cultural context, and cultural study provides the variability necessary to expose process.

Cultural Methods in Parenting Science

Some culture research in parenting compares group means on variables of inter- est, like parenting cognitions and practices or their child outcomes, using analyses of variance statistics. Other research looks at how culture moderates patterns of associa- tions between variables across cultural groups. Both approaches require indicators that are clearly defined and measured in consistent ways. Cultural science, in addition to requirements of any good science, also brings with it unique issues and requirements (translation, sampling, and measurement equivalence, for example), and risks associ- ated with this research are enhanced when it is conducted without full awareness and sensitivity to these specific concerns. For example, studies that compare cultural groups often require the collection of data in different languages, and the instruments used in such comparisons must be rendered equally valid across cultural groups (Peña, 2007). Furthermore, with any test of between-group differences, there is a chance that mea- sures are not equivalent in the groups. Equivalences at many levels are important, and steps need to be taken to promote not only cross-linguistic appropriateness but also cross-cultural validity of instruments to achieve at least “adapted equivalence” (van de Vijver&Leung,1997). Indeed, failure todosocreatesproblems in interpretationof find- ings that are as serious as lack of reliability and validity (Vandenberg & Lance, 2000). If test measurement invariance is not tested and ensured, additional empirical and/or conceptual justification that the measures used have the same meaning in different cultural groups is required. Cultural comparisons of parenting usually involve quasi-experimental designs, in

which samples are not randomly selected either from the world population or from national populations or (obviously) assigned to cultures. Interpreting findings is much more challenging in such designs than in experiments that are based on random assign- ment of participants. A major challenge that confronts cultural comparisons concerns how to isolate source(s) of potential effects and identify the presumed active cultural ingredient(s) thatproduceddifferences.Samples indifferentculturescandifferonmany personologicalor sociodemographic characteristics thatmayconfoundparentingdiffer- ences. For example, parents in different cultural groups may vary in modal patterns of personality, acculturation level, education, or socioeconomic status (Bornstein et al., 2007; Bornstein et al., 2012a). Various procedures are available to untangle rival expla- nations for cultural comparisons, such as the inclusion of covariates in the research design to confirm or disconfirm specific alternative interpretations. By ruling out com- plementary accounts, it is possible to draw conclusions that are more firmly situated in


culture. For example, culture influences teaching and expectations of children in moth- ersofAustralianversusLebanesedescentall living inAustraliaapart fromchildgender, parity, and socioeconomic class (Goodnow, Cashmore, Cotton, & Knight, 1984). Other methodological questions threaten the validity of cultural comparisons

(Matsumoto&vandeVijver, 2011).Forexample, itmatterswhoisdoing thestudy, their culture, their assumptions in asking certain questions, and so forth. Whether collaborat- ing scientists are “on the ground” in the culture and undertake adequate preliminary study to generate meaningful questions are also pertinent.

Similarity and Difference in Parenting across Cultures

The “story” of the cultural investigation of parenting is largely one of similarities, differences, and their meaning. In an illustrative study, we analyzed and compared natural mother-infant interactions in Argentina, Belgium, Israel, Italy, and the United States (Bornstein et al., 2012b). Differences exist among the locales we recruited from in terms of history, beliefs, languages, and childrearing values. However, the samples were more alike than not in terms of modernity, urbanity, economics, politics, living standards, even ecology and climate. Thus, they created the possibility of identifying culture-uniqueand-general conclusionsaboutchildrearing.Motherswereprimiparous, at least 18 years of age, and from intact families; infants were firstborn, term, healthy, and 5 months old. Our aims were to observe mothers and their infants under eco- logically valid, natural, and unobtrusive conditions, and so we studied their usual routines in the familiar confines of their own homes. We videorecorded mother–baby dyads and then used mutually exclusive and exhaustive coding systems to compre- hensively characterize frequency and duration of six maternal caregiving behavioral domains (nurture, physical, social, didactic, material, and language) and five corre- sponding infantdevelopmentaldomains (physical, social, exploration,vocalization,and distress communication). One question we asked concerned cultural similarities and differences in base rates

of parenting in the six caregiving domains. We standardized maternal behavior fre- quency in terms of rate of occurrence per hour, pooled, normalized, and disaggregated the data by country, finally analyzing country means for parallel comparisons for dif- ferent domains. Mothers differed in every domain assessed. Moreover, mothers in no one country surpassed mothers in all others in their base rates of parenting across domains.Thefact thatmaternalbehaviorsvarysignificantlyacross thesemodern, indus- trialized, and comparable places underscores the role of cultural influence on everyday human experiences, even from the start of life. Of course, even greater variation is often revealed in starker contrasts. For example, mothers in rural Thailand do not know that their newborns can see, and so during the day swaddle infants in fabric hammocks that allow babies only a slit view of ceiling or sky (Kotchabhakdi, Winichagoon, Smitasiri, Dhanamitta, & Valyasevi, 1987). Awareness of alternative modes of development also enhances understanding of the nature of variation across cultures; cross-cultural com- parisons show how. For example, U.S. mothers are often thought of as being highly verbal, but U.S. mothers actually fell at the bottom of our five-culture comparison. A second question we asked concerned relations between parent-provided experi-

ences and behavioral development in young infants (Bornstein et al., 2012b). Across cultures, mothers and infants showed a noteworthy degree of attunement and speci- ficity. Mothers who encouraged their infants’ physical development more had more


physically developed infants as opposed to other outcomes; mothers who engaged infantsmoresociallyhadinfantswhopaidmoreattentiontothem;motherswhoencour- aged their infants more didactically had infants who explored more properties, objects, and events in the environment, as did babies whose mothers outfitted their environ- ments in richerways.That is,mothersand infantsarenotonly in tunewithoneanother, but their correspondences tend to be domain specific. Thus, specific correspondences in mother–infant interaction patterns were widespread and similar in different cultural groups. This kind of study continues the story of cultural approaches to parenting in terms of

their traditional dual foci on similarities and differences. Mothers in different cultures differ in their mean levels of different domains of parenting infants, but mothers and infants in different cultures are similar in terms of mutual attunement of caregiving on the part of mothers and development in corresponding domains in infants. A shift in focus to the meaning of those similarities and differences advances the culture and parenting narrative.


Culture-Common and Culture-Specific Parenting

The cultural approach to parenting has as one main goal to evaluate and com- pare culture-common and culture-specific modes of parenting. Evolutionary thinking appeals to the species-common genome, and the biological heritage of some psycho- logical processes presupposes their universality (Norenzayan & Heine, 2005) as do shared historical and economic forces (Harris, 2001). At the same time, cultural psychol- ogy explores variation in core psychological processes by investigating the competing influences of divergent physical and social environments (Bornstein, 2010; van de Vijver & Leung, 1997). Psychological constructs, structures, functions, and processes like parenting can be universal and simultaneously reflect cultural moderation of their quantitative level or qualitative expression. Language illustrates this essential duality. An evolutionary model posits a language instinct from the perspective of an inborn and universal acquisition device, but diversity of environmental input plays a strong role in the acquisition of any specific language (Pinker, 2007). Some demands on par- ents are universal. For example, parents in all societies must nurture and protect their young (Bornstein, 2006). Other demands vary greatly across cultural groups. For exam- ple, parents in some societies play with babies and see them as interactive partners, whereas parents in other societies think that it is senseless for parents to play with infants (Bornstein, 2007). Culture-specific influencesonparentingbegin longbeforechildrenareborn,andthey

shape fundamental decisions about which behaviors parents should promote in their children and how parents should interact with their children (Bornstein, 1991; Whiting, 1963). Thus, caregiving varies among cultures in terms of opinions about the full range ofcaregivingandchilddevelopment, includingthesignificanceofspecificcompetencies for children’s successful adjustment, the ages expected for children to reach develop- mental milestones, when and how to care for children, and the like. For example, the UnitedStatesandJapanarebothchild-centeredmodernsocietieswithequivalentlyhigh


standards of living and so forth, but U.S. American and Japanese parents value differ- ent childrearing goals which they express in different ways (Bornstein, 1989; Bornstein et al., 2012a; Morelli & Rothbaum, 2007). American mothers try to promote auton- omy, assertiveness, verbal competence, and self-actualization in their children, whereas Japanese mothers try to promote emotional maturity, self-control, social courtesy, and interdependence in theirs. Many parenting cognitions and practices are likely to be similar across cultures;

indeed, similarities may reflect universals (in the sense of being common) even if they vary in form and the degree to which they are shaped by experience and influenced by culture. Such patterns of parenting might reflect inherent attributes of caregiving, historical convergences in parenting, or they could be a by-product of information dissemination via forces of globalization or mass media or migration that present par- ents today with increasingly similar socialization models, issues, and challenges. In the end, all peoples must help children meet similar developmental tasks, and all peo- ples (presumably) wish physical health, social adjustment, educational achievement, and economic security for their children, and so they parent in some manifestly sim- ilar ways. Furthermore, the mechanisms through which parents likely affect children are universal. For example, social learning theorists have identified the pervasive roles that conditioning and modeling play as children acquire associations that subsequently form the basis for their culturally constructed selves. By watching or listening to oth- ers who are already embedded in the culture, children come to think and act like them. Attachment theorists propose that children everywhere develop internal working mod- els of social relationships through interactions with their primary caregivers and that these models shape children’s future social relationships with others throughout the balance of the life course (Sroufe & Fleeson, 1986). With so much emphasis on identifi- cation of differences among peoples, it is easy to forget that nearly all parents regardless of culture seek to lead happy, healthy, fulfilled parenthoods and to rear happy, healthy, fulfilled children.

Form and Function in Cultural Approaches to Parenting

These general considerations of universals and specifics lead to a logic model that contrasts form with function in parenting. By form, I mean a parenting cognition or practice as instantiated; by function, I mean the purpose or construal or meaning attached to the form. A proper understanding of the function of parenting cognitions and practices requires situating them in their cultural context (Bornstein, 1995). When a particular parenting cognition or practice serves the same function and connotes the same meaning in different cultures, it likely constitutes a universal. For example, care- givers in (almost) all cultures routinely adjust their speech to very young children making it simpler and more redundant, presumably to support early language acqui- sition; child-directed speech constitutes a universal that adults find difficult to suppress (Papoušek&Bornstein, 1992).Thesameparentingcognitionorpractice canalsoassume different functions in different cultural contexts. Particular parental practices, such as harsh initiation rites, deemed less harmful to children in some cultures may be judged abusive in others. Conversely, different parenting cognitions and practices may serve the same function in different cultural contexts. For example, an authoritative parent- ing style (high warmth, high control) leads to positive outcomes in European American school children, whereas an authoritarian parenting style (low warmth, high control)


leads to positive outcomes in African American and Hong Kong Chinese school chil- dren (Leung, Lau, & Lam, 1998). When different parenting cognitions or practices serve different functions in different settings, it is evidence for cultural specificity. Many dif- ferent parenting practices appear to be adaptive but differently for different cultural groups (Ogbu, 1993). Thus, cultural study informs not only about quantitative aspects but also about qualitative meaning of parents’ beliefs and behaviors.

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