Cross-Cultural Parenting PerspectivesChildren in the middle-…

Cross-Cultural Parenting Perspectives Children in the middle-school years have been greatly influenced in their development based on their family and cultural contexts. Select two cultures and compare them. Consider how the views of parenting and parenting practices differ in each culture. Select one parenting behavior or belief that differs between the cultures. Research the parenting practice in the professional literature and address any findings on how practices emerged or are supported in a culture (the why).

Cross-Cultural Parenting Perspectives


Children in the middle-school years go through crucial periods of their development, which are greatly influenced by their family and cultural contexts. Parenting practices and beliefs play an essential role in shaping children’s experiences and behaviors within their respective cultures. This comparative analysis will focus on two distinct cultural contexts, namely American and Japanese, to highlight differences in their views on parenting and parenting practices. The aim is to examine one specific parenting behavior or belief that varies between the cultures and explore any related findings on how these practices emerged or are supported within each culture.

Differences in Parenting Perspectives

American Cultural Context

In the American cultural context, parenting is often characterized by a focus on individualism, independence, and personal achievement. Parents typically value independence and encourage their children to become self-reliant and assertive individuals. American parents often emphasize the importance of cultivating their children’s self-esteem and autonomy through fostering a sense of individuality and personal choice (Baumrind, 2005). Furthermore, American parenting practices often involve encouraging children to express their opinions, providing them with opportunities for decision-making, and encouraging open communication between parents and children (Darling & Steinberg, 1993).

Japanese Cultural Context

In contrast to the American cultural context, Japanese parenting practices generally prioritize collectivism, interdependence, and group harmony. The concept of amae, which refers to a dependent relationship between individuals, particularly between parents and children, is a defining characteristic of Japanese parenting (Doi, 1973). Japanese parents tend to place greater importance on communal values and the needs of the collective, over the individual preferences or desires (Lebra, 1994). The emphasis on preserving group harmony and societal norms often results in parents employing more authoritative and strict parenting methods that prioritize obedience and conformity (Valdes, 1995).

Differences in Parenting Practices

One specific parenting behavior that differs between American and Japanese cultures is the level of independence and autonomy afforded to children. In the American cultural context, parents tend to promote independence early on, encouraging children to make their own choices, express their opinions, and solve problems on their own. This practice is often seen as a means to foster self-esteem, personal growth, and the development of critical thinking skills in American children (Baumrind, 2005). In contrast, Japanese parents place higher emphasis on fostering interdependence and group harmony, which is reflected in their parenting practices.

In Japanese culture, children are typically encouraged to prioritize the needs of the group or collective over their individual desires. This emphasis on group harmony is reflected in parenting practices such as strong parental control, strict discipline, and an emphasis on obedience (Valdes, 1995). Japanese parents often guide and direct their children’s decisions, with a focus on instilling a sense of responsibility towards the family and society at large. This practice aims to ensure socialization and adherence to cultural norms, as well as promote emotional stability and a sense of belonging within the group (Doi, 1973).

Research on Parenting Practices

Research on parenting practices in both the American and Japanese cultural contexts provides insights into the origins and support systems for these practices. In the American context, Baumrind (2005) conducted extensive research on parenting styles and identified four predominant styles: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and neglectful. The emphasis on independence and personal achievement in American parenting practices can be traced back to the cultural emphasis on individualism and the influence of Western psychological theories emphasizing autonomy and self-expression.

On the other hand, research on Japanese parenting practices highlights the social and cultural factors that shape these practices. Valdes (1995) argues that Japanese parenting practices are rooted in Confucian philosophy, which emphasizes the importance of hierarchy, obedience, and social harmony. The collectivist nature of Japanese society fosters a sense of duty towards the group and a focus on interdependence. These cultural values influence parenting behaviors and shape the emphasis on obedience and conformity within Japanese parenting practices.


In conclusion, the comparison of parenting perspectives and practices between the American and Japanese cultural contexts reveals significant differences. While American parenting emphasizes individualism, independence, and personal achievement, Japanese parenting prioritizes collectivism, interdependence, and group harmony. The difference in the level of independence and autonomy afforded to children is one specific parenting behavior that distinguishes these cultures. American parenting practices encourage independence and self-reliance, while Japanese parenting practices emphasize obedience, strict discipline, and the preservation of group harmony. Research suggests that these practices emerge from cultural values, such as individualism in American culture and collectivism in Japanese culture, as well as the influence of theoretical frameworks and philosophies that underpin parenting beliefs in each context. Understanding these cultural variations in parenting practices is crucial in facilitating meaningful cross-cultural comparisons and informing interventions that cater to the diverse needs of children in middle school years.