Caring for our children - parents and carers

Caring for our children - parents and carers

Media release — 24 April 2007

New research published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies reveals that children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who are looked after by a carer from a different cultural background may encounter confusing or conflicting responses when in day care.

Using data from the Institute's Childcare in Cultural Context study, the research explores how children from Anglo, Somali and Vietnamese cultural backgrounds are parented at home and in day care, focusing on how parenting beliefs and behaviours vary according to this background.

Parents and carers regarded children's independence and social skills very highly. Children's obedience or compliance was valued to a lesser extent. Parents and carers also believed reasoning to be an effective way to manage difficult behaviour, and thought exercising parental control to be less effective.

Parents valued children's obedience and social skills significantly more than did carers. Parents also believed that exercising parental control was more effective in managing difficult behaviours than did carers. Carers had expectations of later development in children than did their parents.

Aspects of parenting varied according to cultural background: the importance of children's independence; how to manage difficult behaviour; and the timing of developmental milestones. Generally, parents and carers from Anglo backgrounds valued children's independence more, and had expectations of earlier development than parents and carers from Somali and Vietnamese backgrounds.

Children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who are looked after by a carer from a different cultural background may encounter competing and potentially confusing expectations and responses in day care. It is important for carers to understand children's home environments so that such experiences can be managed in the best interests of the child.

Differential parenting of children from diverse cultural backgrounds attending child care, by Sarah Wise and Lisa da Silva (AIFS Research Paper no.39 2007).

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