An International Perspective on Parenting and Children’s Adjustment

  • Jennifer E. LansfordEmail author


This chapter provides an international perspective on parenting and children’s adjustment, which can inform understanding of the development of minority children. It begins with an historical overview of this area of inquiry, which has been conducted primarily with North American and Western European samples, and presents two of the main theories that have guided research attempting to understand children’s development in cultural contexts. The chapter then describes current key research questions as well as measurement and methodological issues in adopting an international perspective. The bulk of the chapter reviews empirical research on links between parenting and children’s adjustment in a variety of domains (socioemotional adjustment, behavioral adjustment, academic achievement, moral development, social relationships) around the world. The chapter then highlights universal versus culture-specific mechanisms through which parenting has been found to relate to children’s adjustment. Finally, the chapter suggests policy implications and directions for future research. Throughout, the review of theories and empirical research is not comprehensive but rather illustrative, attempting to provide an international framework in which to conceptualize parenting and children’s adjustment.


Prosocial Behavior Moral Development Corporal Punishment Parenting Program Authoritative Parenting 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Ahmed, R. A. (2010). North Africa and the Middle East. In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.), Handbook of cultural developmental science (pp. 359–381). New York, NY: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar
  2. Akinsola, E. F. (2011). “Omoluwabi’s approach” to educating the African child. In A. B. Nsamenang & T. M. S. Tchombe (Eds.), Handbook of African educational theories and practices: A generative teacher education curriculum (pp. 221–232). Bamenda, Cameroon: Human Development Resource Centre.Google Scholar
  3. Alampay, L. P. (2014). Parenting in the Philippines. In H. Selin (Ed.), Parenting across cultures: Childrearing, motherhood and fatherhood in non-western cultures (pp. 105–121). New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Al-Hassan, S. (2009). Evaluation of the Better Parenting Program: A study conducted for UNICEF. Amman: UNICEF.Google Scholar
  5. Arnett, J. J. (2008). The neglected 95 %: Why American psychology needs to become less American. American Psychologist, 63, 602–614.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Babatunde, E. D., & Setiloane, K. (2014). Changing patterns of Yoruba parenting in Nigeria. In H. Selin (Ed.), Parenting across cultures: Childrearing, motherhood and fatherhood in non-western cultures (pp. 241–252). New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bianchi, S. M., & Milkie, M. A. (2010). Work and family research in the first decade of the 21st century. Journal of Marriage and Family, 72, 705–725.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bornstein, M. H. (1995). Form and function: Implications for studies of culture and human development. Culture & Psychology, 1, 123–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bornstein, M. H., & Lansford, J. E. (2013). Assessing early childhood development. In P. R. Britto, P. L. Engle, & C. M. Super (Eds.), Early childhood development research and its impact on global policy (pp. 351–370). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bornstein, M. H., & Putnick, D. L. (2016). Mothering and fathering daughters and sons in low- and middle-income countries. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 81(1), 60–77.Google Scholar
  11. Bornstein, M. H., Putnick, D. L., Bradley, R. H., Deater-Deckard, K., & Lansford, J. E. (2016). Gender across the developing world: Reflections, limitations, directions, and implications. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 81(1).Google Scholar
  12. Bornstein, M. H., Putnick, D. L., & Lansford, J. E. (2011). Parenting attributions and attitudes in cross-cultural perspective. Parenting: Science and Practice, 11, 214–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bronfenbrenner, U. (2005). Making human beings human. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  14. Burr, R. (2014). The complexity of morality: Being a ‘good child’ in Vietnam? Journal of Moral Education, 43, 156–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cabrera, N. J., Fitzgerald, H. E., Bradley, R. H., & Roggman, L. (2007). Modeling the dynamics of paternal influences on children over the life course. Applied Development Science, 11, 185–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cabrera, N. J., Fitzgerald, H. E., Bradley, R. H., & Roggman, L. (2014). The ecology of father–child relationships: An expanded model. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 6, 336–354.Google Scholar
  17. Cabrera, N. J., Hofferth, S. L., & Chae, S. (2011). Patterns and predictors of father–infant engagement across race/ethnic groups. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 26, 365–375.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  18. Chang, L., Chen, B.-B., & Ji, L. Q. (2011). Parenting attributions and attitudes of mothers and fathers in China. Parenting: Science and Practice, 11, 102–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chao, R. K. (1994). Beyond parental control and authoritarian parenting style: Understanding Chinese parenting through the cultural notion of training. Child Development, 65, 1111–1119.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Chen, X., & French, D. C. (2008). Children’s social competence in cultural context. Annual Review of Psychology, 29, 591–616.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Cheung, C. S., & Pomerantz, E. M. (2011). Parents’ involvement in children’s academic lives in the US and China: Implications for children’s academic and emotional adjustment. Child Development, 82, 932–950.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  22. Coleman, D. L. (1998). The Seattle compromise: Multicultural sensitivity and Americanization. Duke Law Journal, 47, 717–783.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. de Guzman, M. R. T., Edwards, C. P., & Carlo, G. (2005). Prosocial behaviors in context: A study of Gikuyu children of Ngecha, Kenya. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 26, 542–558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. De Wolff, M. S., & van IJzendoorn, M. H. (1997). Sensitivity and attachment: A meta-analysis on parental antecedents of infant attachment. Child Development, 68, 571–591.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Deater-Deckard, K., Lansford, J. E., Malone, P. S., Alampay, L. P., Sorbring, E., Bacchini, D., et al. (2011). The association between parental warmth and control in thirteen cultural groups. Journal of Family Psychology, 25, 790–794.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  26. Durbrow, E. H., Peña, L. F., Masten, A., Sesma, A., & Williamson, I. (2001). Mothers’ conceptions of child competence in contexts of poverty: The Philippines, St. Vincent, and the United States. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 25, 438–443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Erkut, S. (2010). Developing multiple language versions of instruments for intercultural research. Child Development Perspectives, 4, 19–24.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  28. Eshel, N., Daelmans, B., de Mello, M. C., & Martines, J. (2006). Responsive parenting: Interventions and outcomes. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 84, 991–998.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. Ferns, I., & Thom, D. P. (2001). Moral development of Black and White South African adolescents: Evidence against cultural universality in Kohlberg’s theory. South African Journal of Psychology, 31, 38–47.Google Scholar
  30. Gaskins, S. (2000). Children’s daily activities in a Mayan village: A culturally grounded description. Cross-Cultural Research, 34, 375–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. George, C., & Solomon, L. (1999). The caregiving behavioral system. In J. Cassidy & P. R. Shaver (Eds.), Handbook of attachment: Theory, research, and clinical applications (pp. 649–670). New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  32. Gershoff, E. T. (2013). Spanking and child development: We know enough now to stop hitting our children. Child Development Perspectives, 7, 133–137.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  33. Griner, D., & Smith, T. B. (2006). Culturally adapted mental health interventions: A meta-analytic review. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 43, 531–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Groh, A. M., Fearon, R. P., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., van IJzendoorn, M. H., Steele, R., & Roisman, G. I. (2014). The significance of attachment security for children’s social competence with peers: A meta-analytic study. Attachment and Human Development, 16, 103–136.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  35. Grossmann, K., Grossmann, K. E., Kindler, H., & Zimmermann, P. (2008). A wider view of attachment and exploration: The influence of mothers and fathers on the development of psychological security from infancy to young adulthood. In J. Cassidy & P. R. Shaver (Eds.), Handbook of attachment: Theory, research, and clinical applications (2nd ed., pp. 857–879). New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  36. Guo, G., & Harris, K. M. (2000). The mechanisms mediating the effects of poverty on children’s intellectual development. Demography, 37, 431–447.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Hamadani, J. D., & Tofail, F. (2014). Childrearing, motherhood and fatherhood in Bangladeshi culture. In H. Selin (Ed.), Parenting across cultures: Childrearing, motherhood and fatherhood in non-western cultures (pp. 123–144). New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hambleton, R. K., & Zenisky, A. L. (2010). Translating and adapting tests for cross-cultural assessments. In D. Matsumoto & F. J. R. van de Vijver (Eds.), Cross-cultural research methods in psychology (pp. 46–74). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hastings, P. D., Utendale, W. T., & Sullivan, C. (2007). The socialization of prosocial development. In J. E. Grusec & P. D. Hastings (Eds.), Handbook of socialization: Theory and research (pp. 638–664). New York, NY: Guilford.Google Scholar
  40. Henrich, J., Heine, S. J., & Norenzayan, A. (2010). The weirdest people in the world? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33, 1–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hoff, E., Laursen, B., & Tardif, T. (2002). Socioeconomic status and parenting. In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.), Handbook of parenting: Biology and ecology of parenting (2nd ed., Vol. 2, pp. 231–252). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  42. International Labour Organization. (2014). Maternity and paternity at work: Law and practice across the world. Geneva: International Labour Organization.Google Scholar
  43. Karasik, L. B., Adolph, K. E., Tamis-LeMonda, C. S., & Bornstein, M. H. (2010). WEIRD walking: Cross-cultural research on motor development. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33, 95–96.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  44. Kohlberg, L. (1984). Essays on moral development: The psychology of moral development: Moral stages, their nature and validity (Vol. 2). San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  45. Lansford, J. E., & Bornstein, M. H. (2007). Review of parenting programs in developing countries. New York, NY: UNICEF.Google Scholar
  46. Lansford, J. E., Chang, L., Dodge, K. A., Malone, P. S., Oburu, P., Palmérus, K., et al. (2005). Physical discipline and children’s adjustment: Cultural normativeness as a moderator. Child Development, 76, 1234–1246.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  47. Lansford, J. E., & Deater-Deckard, K. (2012). Childrearing discipline and violence in developing countries. Child Development, 83, 62–75.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Lansford, J. E., Woodlief, D., Malone, P. S., Oburu, P., Pastorelli, C., Skinner, A. T., et al. (2014). A longitudinal examination of mothers’ and fathers’ social information processing biases and harsh discipline in nine countries. Development and Psychopathology, 26, 561–573.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  49. Lapsley, D., & Carlo, G. (2014). Moral development at the crossroads: New trends and possible futures. Developmental Psychology, 50, 1–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. LeVine, R. A., Dixon, S., LeVine, S., Richman, A., Leiderman, P. H., Keefer, C. H., et al. (1994). Child care and culture: Lessons from Africa. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Li, X., & Lamb, M. E. (2013). Fathers in Chinese culture: From stern disciplinarians to involved parents. In D. W. Shwalb, B. J. Shwalb, & M. E. Lamb (Eds.), Fathers in cultural context (pp. 15–41). New York, NY: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.Google Scholar
  52. Loke, I. C., Heyman, G. D., Itakura, S., Toriyama, R., & Lee, K. (2014). Japanese and American children’s moral evaluations of reporting on transgressions. Developmental Psychology, 50, 1520–1531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Lytton, H., & Romney, D. M. (1991). Parents’ differential socialization of boys and girls: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 109, 267–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Miller, J. G., & Bersoff, D. M. (1992). Culture and moral judgment: How are conflicts between justice and interpersonal responsibilities resolved? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62, 541–554.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Mistry, R. S., Biesanz, J. C., Chien, N., Howes, C., & Benner, A. D. (2008). Socioeconomic status, parental investments, and the cognitive and behavioral outcomes of low-income children from immigrant and native households. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 23, 193–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Nelson, D. A., Hart, C. H., Keister, E. K., & Piassetskaia, K. (2010). Russia. In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.), Handbook of cultural developmental science (pp. 409–428). New York, NY: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar
  57. Ng, F. F., Pomerantz, E. M., & Lam, S. F. (2007). European American and Chinese parents’ responses to children’s success and failure: Implications for children’s responses. Developmental Psychology, 43, 1239–1255.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. Norenzayan, A., & Heine, S. J. (2005). Psychological universals: What are they and how can we know? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 763–784.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. Nsamenang, A. B., & Lo-Oh, J. L. (2010). Afrique Noire. In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.), Handbook of cultural developmental science (pp. 383–407). New York, NY: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar
  60. Oburu, P. O. (2011). Attributions and attitudes of mothers and fathers in Kenya. Parenting: Science and Practice, 11, 152–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Osterweil, Z., & Nagano, K. N. (1991). Maternal views on autonomy: Japan and Israel. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 22, 362–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Parke, R. D. (2002). Fathers and families. In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.), Handbook of parenting status and social conditions of parenting (2nd ed., Vol. 3, pp. 27–73). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  63. Pomerantz, E. M., Ng, F., Cheung, C. S.-S., & Qu, Y. (2014). Raising happy children who succeed in school: Lessons from China and the United States. Child Development Perspectives, 8, 71–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Pomerantz, E. M., & Wang, Q. (2009). The role of parental control in children’s development in Western and East Asian countries. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18, 285–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Qin, L., Pomerantz, E. M., & Wang, Q. (2009). Are gains in decision-making autonomy during early adolescence beneficial for emotional functioning? The case of the United States and China. Child Development, 80, 1705–1721.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. Ribas, R. C., Jr. (2010). Central and South America. In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.), Handbook of cultural developmental science (pp. 323–339). New York, NY: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar
  67. Rohner, R. P. (2004). The parental “acceptance-rejection syndrome”: Universal correlates of perceived rejection. American Psychologist, 59, 830–840.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  68. Rohner, R. P., Bourque, S. L., & Elordi, C. A. (1996). Children’s perceptions of corporal punishment, caretaker acceptance, and psychological adjustment in a poor, biracial southern community. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 58, 842–852.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Rohner, R. P., & Britner, P. A. (2002). Worldwide mental health correlates of parental acceptance-rejection: Review of cross-cultural and intracultural evidence. Cross-Cultural Research, 36, 16–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Rothbaum, F., Weisz, J., Pott, M., Miyake, K., & Morelli, G. (2000). Attachment and culture: Security in the United States and Japan. American Psychologist, 55, 1093–1104.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  71. Saraswathi, T. S., & Dutta, R. (2010). India. In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.), Handbook of cultural developmental science (pp. 465–483). New York, NY: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar
  72. Shwalb, D. W., Shwalb, B. J., Nakazawa, J., Hyun, J.-H., Le, H. V., & Satiadarma, M. P. (2010). East and Southeast Asia: Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and Indonesia. In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.), Handbook of cultural developmental science (pp. 445–464). New York, NY: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar
  73. Smetana, J. G. (2006). Social domain theory: Consistencies and variations in children’s moral and social judgments. In M. Killen & J. G. Smetana (Eds.), Handbook of moral development (pp. 119–154). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  74. Stevenson, H. W., Lee, S.-Y., & Stigler, J. W. (1986). Mathematics achievement of Chinese, Japanese, and American children. Science, 231, 693–699.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  75. Super, C. M., & Harkness, S. (1986). The developmental niche: A conceptualization at the interface of child and culture. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 9, 545–569.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Turiel, E. (2002). The culture of morality: Social development, context, and conflict. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. United Nations. (1989). United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Geneva. Washington, DC: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
  78. United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. (2007). General comment number 8: The right of the child to protection from corporal punishment and other cruel or degrading forms of punishment.
  79. Vandenberg, R. J., & Lance, C. E. (2000). A review and synthesis of the measurement invariance literature: Suggestions, practices, and recommendations for organizational research. Organizational Research Methods, 3, 4–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Weisz, J. R., Chaiyasit, W., Weiss, B., Eastman, K. L., & Jackson, E. W. (1995). A multimethod study of problem behavior among Thai and American children in school: Teacher reports versus direct observations. Child Development, 66, 402–415.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  81. World Bank. (2014). Poverty headcount ratio at $1.25 a day (PPP) (% of population). Retrieved December 9, 2014 from
  82. World Economic Forum. (2014). The global gender gap report 2014. Geneva: World Economic Forum.Google Scholar
  83. Zimba, R. F. (2002). Indigenous conceptions of childhood development and social realities in southern Africa. In H. Keller, Y. P. Poortinga, & A. Scholmerish (Eds.), Between cultures and biology: Perspectives on ontogenetic development (pp. 89–115). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Zucker, E., & Howes, C. (2009). Respectful relationships: Socialization goals and practices among Mexican mothers. Infant Mental Health Journal, 30, 501–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Editor(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Duke UniversityDurhamUSA

Personalised recommendations