Differential parenting of children from diverse cultural backgrounds attending child care

Differential parenting of children from diverse cultural backgrounds attending child care

Sarah Wise and Lisa da Silva

Research Paper No. 39 — April 2007

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Parenting is known to vary as a function of culture and education. It may also depend on the nature of the caregiver's relationship to the child (whether the caregiver is a parent or unrelated day care provider, for example), as well as the context in which the relationship takes place. It may therefore be quite common for Australian children to experience differential parenting in their transitions between home and day care, particularly if they are from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.

Using data from the Australian Institute of Family Studies' Child Care in Cultural Context (CCICC) study, this paper explores how children from Anglo, Somali and Vietnamese cultural backgrounds are parented at home and in day care, focusing on the extent to which parenting beliefs and behaviours vary according to cultural background. The nature and extent of differences in parenting across home and day care environments, and the association of differential parenting to similarities and differences in the cultural backgrounds of carers from each of these two settings, are also addressed.

The analyses show cultural variations in parental beliefs and behaviours, as well as differences in these aspects of parenting between parents and day care providers generally. However, the nature and extent of disagreement between parents and carers varied among culturally 'mixed' dyads and culturally 'matched' dyads, suggesting that children from CALD 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 suggested that carers take the necessary steps to understand children's home environments so that new and potentially conflicting day care experiences can be acknowledged and addressed.

Authors and Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge and thank Associate Professor Ann Sanson, University of Melbourne, for her contributions to the development of the study and for her ongoing support and counsel. The authors would also like to recognise the significant contributions Kelly Hand, Lan Vuong and Farhia Mohumed made to the fieldwork components of the study. The authors also have great appreciation for the many parents, children and their carers who took part in the study. The authors also wish to thank Linda Harrison and Daryl Higgins for their comments on earlier drafts of this paper.

Publication details

Research Paper
No. 39
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, April 2007.
36 pp.
978 0 642 39548 1
Suggested citation:

Wise, S., & da Silva, L. (2007). Differential parenting of children from diverse cultural backgrounds attending child care ( Research Paper No. 39). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

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