The influence of culture on parenting

Have you ever thought about how common the murder of children has been in societies we now call “Western” in the past, as well as societies all over the world today? In my naivete as a parent I figured there would be some differences in how people parent their children around the world, but I never imagined that people in my own back yards would parent completely differently from me.  And I sort of figured that the 'around the world' differences were mostly a function of the availability of products and services - wouldn't everyone encourage artistic ability if they had access to paper and crayons?  Turns out it's not the case. Elders and even ancestors occupied the top of the family heap in most societies for most of our history.  In Western (also called "WEIRD") societies, we've reversed this paradigm and children find themselves ruling the roost.  Yet we're also starting to "borrow" elements of other cultures - like baby-wearing and elimination communication.  I'll also examine how several other cultures approach topics like transmitting knowledge and shaping behavior. You might ask yourself "but why do I care whether a three year-old Warao child in Venezuela can paddle a canoe?"  It was learning about these kinds of cultural differences that allowed me to take a step back and see the information I'm transmitting to my own daughter that's based on my culture, and think through whether these are the kinds of messages I want to send to her.  How did your culture and experience shape you, and have you made a conscious decision to include these elements of your culture in your parenting style or are you just running on autopilot? References for this episode Bryant, A (no date). 7 reasons not to compare your child with others… Available at: Heath, Shirley B (1983). Ways with words. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England. Lancy, D. (2015). The anthropology of childhood: Cherubs, Chattel, Changelings. Second Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England. McNaughton, S (1996). Ways of parenting and cultural identity. Culture Psychology 2:2 173-201.  Available at: Zero to Three (2016). How our history influences how we raise our children. Available at:  

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