Parents’ Beliefs about Child Socialization

A Study of Parenting Models
  • Kay Sutherland


It is one of the tenets of anthropology that societies vary in their cultural beliefs about the nature of the world in which they live. Human groups differ in their beliefs about the way rain is created, how diseases spread, and what is the best way to teach a child. These differences extend to the most basic beliefs we have about the nature of the physical world: about human nature, about the supernatural, and about how human beings learn and relate to each other. A recent article in the Annual Review of Anthropology devoted dozens of pages to the different ways in which anthropologists (among others) have tried to define “family” and the different beliefs various cultures have about the best way to live together and to raise children (Yanagisako, 1979). Accepting cultural variation in beliefs and values concerning the family and parenthood is too seldom acknowledged when the subject matter is closer to home. Experts in many fields tend to ignore the cultural diversity of child-rearing beliefs and values in the United States, often to the detriment of families, children, and programs—indeed, to the richness of everyday life. The finding that most startled the 1980 White House Conferences on Families was the lack of agreement concerning definitions of family life, parenthood, and socialization (Sutherland & Meditch, 1980). It should not have been such a surprise.


Ethnic Difference Child Rear Methodological Implication Discipline Technique Black Parent 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kay Sutherland
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologySouthwest Texas State UniversitySan MarcosUSA

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