Cultural differences in parenting styles

Written by rebekah smith
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Cultural differences in parenting styles
European-American cultures encourage their children to develop new ideas and concepts. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Cultures share norms and values that are important to the society in general. These cultures also share attributes of parenting styles. Although they may differ slightly, the society will have generally accepted parenting styles. Some cultural parenting practices will be accepted by one culture and rejected by another.


Parents from European backgrounds typically have a close relationship with their children. They treat them with warmth. Parents balance control and monitoring. This style is typically authoritative. These parents are supportive to their children, offering hugs and praise. These parents also have control over their children, outlining expectations and limits on behaviours. Children who are supported throughout their adolescence are less likely to be delinquent and depressed, and more likely to have good coping skills for problems they encounter.


Traditional Asian families typically appear to show less warmth to their children. The parenting style is more authoritarian. These parents are very strict and usually do not show outward support for their children. They are very tightly controlled. This is based on the belief that controlling children is a parent's role. It is how the children are protected and inhibited. The parenting style is based on the theory that "to govern is to love."


When two cultures interact, when a person is absorbed into another culture, the values and cultural norms may be different. It is difficult for immigrants to maintain their cultural values, and this extends to their parenting styles. The study at the University of Maryland illustrated that Muslim-American fathers who stayed less acculturated were more controlling and restrictive for both sons and daughters than their European-American counterparts. However, the longer a family is exposed to western culture, the more difficult it is to maintain this type of parenting style.

Males and Females

Mothers and fathers will also parent differently. As illustrated in the Swinburne University study, Greek men are more authoritarian, controlling children, whereas Greek mothers were more authoritative, supporting the children. Mothers are focused on providing the basic needs of the child and monitoring their activities and behaviours. Fathers typically have less time with children, but they assist children in developing their own identity.

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