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Cultural Background and Religious Beliefs


In this chapter, we review ways in which cultural background and religious beliefs impact parenting beliefs and practices. Our review focuses on the four major ethnic/racial groups in the US (Non-Hispanic White, Latino American, African American, Asian American) and the majority religion in the US, and its various denominations (Christianity). We discuss how parents’ ideas and ideals about optimal child development, often shaped by cultural self-construal or religious/theological beliefs, influence the ways they choose to raise or discipline their children. We review differences between Western and non-Western cultures in the domain of affect socialization, a relative emphasis on self-enhancement versus self-improvement, and the use of parental control strategies. We discuss different types of indigenous parenting as well as the role of ethnic socialization and acculturation. We then review the role of sanctification of parenting, Christian conservatism, Buddhism as well as religiosity in parenting. Finally, we identify strengths, limitations, and gaps in the literature, and highlight areas for future directions. In particular, we argue for the need to further understand the interplay of cultural and religious factors on parenting, especially in light of the changing demographics of American families. Implications for practice are also discussed.


  • Culture
  • Ethnic minority
  • Migration
  • Religion
  • Parenting

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Correspondence to Joey Fung .

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Fung, J., Wong, M.S., Park, H. (2018). Cultural Background and Religious Beliefs. In: Sanders, M., Morawska, A. (eds) Handbook of Parenting and Child Development Across the Lifespan . Springer, Cham.

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