How Does Culture Affect Parenting Style?

Culture affects parenting styles through the emphasis placed on honor, the community’s norms and beliefs, socially accepted methods of discipline, the community’s role in childrearing, the roles of mothers vs. fathers, and the roles of sons vs. daughters; each of these factors may/will vary across cultures.

Culture profoundly affects parenting style. The way that culture manifests in different parenting styles plays a significant role in the parent-child relationship and can influence how the child develops in their adolescent years.

There is a significant difference in the parenting styles of parents in Western, African, and Asian cultures. Let’s explore how culture affects parenting styles and the relationship between parent and child in these three cultures.

How Does Culture Affect Parenting Style

Related Reading: How Can Positive Parenting Encourage Personal Development?

How Culture Affects Parenting Styles

Here are a few ways culture affects parenting styles, particularly in Western, African, and Asian cultures:

Culture Of Honor

Parents who are part of the older generations were often raised with a culture of honor. A culture of honor and respect is particularly relevant in African and Asian households.

In some African and Asian cultures, honoring elders may come before children’s well-being. The culture of honor may include things like not looking adults in their eyes, kneeling when greeting elders, going without dinner if an unexpected adult visitor joins for dinner, addressing adults as “aunt” / “uncle,” and not contributing to conversations between adults.

While many African and Asian cultures still appreciate the culture of honor established by their community, they have come to recognize the harmful effects some of these traditions may have on children.

However, in Western cultures, the culture of honor is less emphasized. Children are encouraged to participate in adult conversations and express their minds. In Western cultures, children often address adults by their first names and are encouraged to only engage with (and respect) individuals who make them feel comfortable.

While the Western approach has been beneficial in developing freethinking individuals, some parents have found that their children do not honor them like children of African and Asian cultures.

Community Norms and Beliefs Affect Parenting Styles

Generally, community norms and beliefs dictate how parents raise their children. Parents may fear raising their children differently from the traditional way because community members may ostracize them. Parents rarely abandon their community norms and beliefs to raise their children differently.

However, over the past few years, parents have become more comfortable raising their children in the way that they feel is best. Millennials have become more aware of the trauma they suffered due to community norms. Millennials and Gen Z parents have begun to adopt gentle parenting approaches, which often differ from the traditional standards by which they were raised.

Methods Of Discipline Between Different Cultures

The socio-economic circumstances of a family significantly impact the methods of discipline, across cultures. The family’s socio-economic circumstances can dictate what the family members are likely to value.

Given that Western children are raised with a sense of autonomy, freedom has become something deeply valued by children in Western cultures. As a result, Western parents may “ground” their children as a form of punishment, or take away their cellphone or gaming console when they misbehave.

However, in African and Asian cultures, physical abuse is still a common form of disciplining children. Depending on the sense of community in the relevant culture, it may even be acceptable for family members or teachers to chastise children.

Although Western cultures are not exempt from these incidents, children experience better safety as the law protects their bodily integrity and citizens uphold the law. In many Western countries, giving children hidings has been outlawed.

Canada is one of the few developed countries in the Western World that does not legally protect children from physical abuse by a person in a care-taking role. This can be found in Section 43 of Canada’s Criminal Code, and Canadian citizens are often surprised when they find out Canada has not changed this section.

Children Raised by The Community Vs. by Parents

In Western cultures, parenting is typically a private matter between the parent and child. Uncles and aunts will rarely be significantly involved in childrearing.

However, in African and Asian cultures, it is common for childrearing to be a community effort. In Africa, the cultural principle of “Ubuntu” exists, which translates to the belief that we are who we are because of others.

Although community involvement can create a support system for children, it also opens the door for adverse consequences such as child abuse at the hands of family members and other individuals’ parenting styles and beliefs being imputed on the children.

In this regard, the private parenting approach can positively protect children. However, it can also be dangerous if the parents’ behavior negatively affects the child because the child may end up lacking the support that would otherwise be available in a community setting.

The Role of Mothers Vs. Fathers In Different Cultures

The role of mothers in African and Asian cultures is that of a nurturer, responsible for running the household and taking care of family members’ emotional and physical well-being. Due to her spending more time at home, she tends to spend more time with her children.

Naturally, because she spends more time with her children, she has more opportunities to discipline them. In this regard, she may become the disciplinarian in the household.

On the other hand, fathers in African and Asian cultures are regarded as the providers responsible for putting food on the table and a roof over their heads. Interestingly, the position for men in Western cultures is often the same, with fathers being the breadwinners.

However, given that women are becoming more independent, many mothers in Western cultures also occupy jobs and provide for their families. In this regard, the disciplinarian role may be more evenly split between mothers and fathers in the Western culture, depending on who spends more time with the children.

The Role of Sons and Daughters

Each culture views children’s role in the family in different ways.

Parents in African and Asian countries often place an immense familial responsibility on their daughters. Daughters are expected to be their mother’s right hand. From a young age, daughters are raised to fulfill the role of a woman serving a man.

They are taught how to cook and clean, and they begin to look after their siblings or children from an early age. They are taught how to deal with their emotions and comfort others in difficult times. Their parents also impose more strict rules regarding their freedom, and they tend to be allowed less time outside with friends compared to boys.

On the other hand, boys in African and Asian cultures are typically raised to be the breadwinners of their households. Emphasis is placed on ensuring they get an excellent education to provide for their family one day. Most sons are exempt from doing chores and are allowed more freedom to go places with friends and spend time outside.

African and Asian parents raise their sons to be protectors and give little attention to their emotions and mental well-being. Sons will rarely be responsible for childrearing. Even if they have a sibling who needs to be taken care of, the child will usually be taken care of by another female family member, irrespective of the boy’s availability to look after their sibling.

In contrast to the African and Asian approaches, parents of girls in Western cultures encourage their daughters to be independent and further their education to have options for what they want to be when they grow up. While they may take care of their siblings, it is usually more in the capacity of occasional babysitting as opposed to childrearing.

Similar to African and Asian cultures, parents of boys in Western cultures encourage their sons to get a good education and learn skills that will enable them to provide for their families. Their parents give them the freedom to explore and are not subject to strict rules. It is rare for Western parents to rely on their sons to assist with childrearing or leave them responsible for maintaining the household by cooking and cleaning.


Culture affects parenting styles in Western, African, and Asian countries in terms of emphasis placed on honor, the community’s norms and beliefs, socially accepted methods of discipline, the community’s role in childrearing, and the roles of mothers vs. fathers, and the roles of sons vs. daughters.

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