Child Rearing Customs in America
The numerous child rearing methods and styles in practice have always represented entire countries and cultures. Based on various religious, political and ideological views of a certain time, place and people, child rearing customs have long been the core of extensive study. In America, experts have studied the matter thoroughly and parents keep trying to determine the most effective ways to form a family and raise their children 5. Although a matter of intense debate, child rearing in America tends to follow distinctive guidelines.
Families in America are generally small in size 6. The standard American family now consists of two parents and one child. According to a study carried out by Princeton University, American parents increasingly choose to focus on fewer children, offering all their time, financial means and attention to one or sometimes two kids 2. This allows them to fully devote themselves to their children as well as keep their quality of life on a higher level.
Child rearing customs in America seem to have roots in Christianity, according to R. Sunley, author of "Early Nineteenth-Century American Literature on Child Rearing." Children are raised to seek independence and to stand for their own rights, but at the same time American mothers tend to be authoritative, directly instructing their kids to act a certain way 5. Lessons such as "treat others the way you wish to be treated" and values such as "self-sacrifice for the common good" are taught in many American families, reinforcing group identity while focusing on the individuality of each child.
As stated by American Mental Health, there are four different parenting styles. Indulgent parents are those who choose to avoid confrontation and refrain from being demanding. Authoritarian parents are those who demand to be obeyed, without offering an explanation as to why they should be respected. Uninvolved parents are the undemanding and unresponsive ones. Lastly, authoritative parents are assertive without being restrictive. They know how to support their children and encourage independence, but they also expect their instructions to be respected. This is most often the way parents choose to raise their children in America, according to Madeline Levine, the author of "Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success." 5
American children begin their education at 4 years old, which is when they attend preschool. They are required to continue until they are 16 years old, before they are given the choice between continuing and stopping. The educational system in America generally requires teachers to assume control of small groups, while individualizing activities and focusing on the subject itself rather than the way it is taught 5.
- Center for School Education Research: Child-Rearing and Educational Practices in the United States and Japan:
- Web MD: Parents, Kids, and Discipline
- The New York Times: Raising Successful Children
- University of California: Effects of Authoritative Parental Control on Child Behavior
- America in the World: Religion in America
- Gallup: Americans' Preference for Smaller Families Edges Higher
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