Cultural Influences on Parenting

According to extensive research carried out by the University of Oklahoma, parenting styles are highly affected by racial and ethnic differences 1. According to University of Oklahoma researcher Paul Spicer, expectations, discipline and even views on independence seem to be connected with cultural influences. A child's development is necessarily shaped by such differences.


According to Sarah Wise, principal research fellow at the Australian Institute of Family Studies, and Lisa da Silva, former senior research officer at the Australian Institute of Family Studies, parenting goals are significantly affected by cultural influences 3. Cultures set goals and expectations that parents are encouraged to respect and raise their children accordingly. Parenting tends to be consistent with each society's expectations, whether in an individualistic or a collectivist society.


The way parents deal with difficult behavior and the rules they impose are also highly affected by their cultural background. As shown by a study carried out by Violet Kolar and Grace Soriano of the Australian Institute of Family Studies, the way parents choose to punish their children in case of misbehavior is closely connected to the society they live in. Attitudes toward physical punishment, including the time-out discipline method, vary significantly among ethnic groups.

Independence and Self-esteem

According to researcher Mimi Chang of the Carnegie Mellon University, parenting behaviors toward encouraging child independence also differ in societies. For instance, self-expression and confidence is promoted more in some cultures than in others. European and U.S. parents generally encourage the development of independence and self-esteem, whereas Chinese parents generally put more weight on teaching obedience.


As Dr. Stephen T. Russell, director of the Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth and Families at the University of Arizona has highlighted, in certain societies good parenting is related to warm and close parenting. However, in other cultures, warmth is replaced by compliance and even control. Some societies consider warmth and acceptance as good parenting traits while other societies define successful parenting as producing obedient children. These differences in the importance of warmth seem to reflect solid differences in the culture.