Maternal Conceptions of Child Competence and Parenting Practices: A Cross-national View

Open Access
Affinito, Salvatore Jude
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Pamela Marie Cole, Thesis Supervisor
  • Richard Alan Carlson, Honors Advisor
  • mothers
  • child competence
  • culture
  • parenting practices
Although there is ample research on classifying cultures, there is limited research regarding the impact of culture on parenting. In particular, the relationship between maternal conceptions of child competence and their parenting behaviors is not fully understood. This thesis examined cultural differences in mothers’ conceptions of child competence by interviewing 502 mothers using an open-ended interview – the Criteria of Child Competence (CCC). These same mothers were then administered the Socializing Situation Scenarios (SoSit) in order to assess their anticipated parenting behaviors in various situations. The culture of the mother was based on the theoretical classification of culture as a function of self-construal – the way in which individuals perceive the world in relation to themselves (Markus & Kitayama, 1991). Mothers from five nations participated, representing three Cultural Orientations: India and Nepal as Interdependent, South Korea as Autonomous-Relational, and the United States and Germany as Independent nations. Hierarchical linear regressions were conducted to test predictions that specific Cultural Orientations and maternal criteria for child competence account for significant variance in mothers’ beliefs about the parenting practices they use. The results revealed that, across cultures, Problem-Focused parenting was the most commonly referenced, with Interdependent mothers referencing them most often. As predicted, mothers from Interdependent and Autonomous-Relational nations emphasized Power Assertion more than mothers from Independent nations. Moreover, an Interdependent Cultural Orientation and Obedience as a competence criterion predicted Power Assertive parenting practices. For Problem-Focused parenting practices, an Independent Cultural Orientation was a significant predictor and the criteria of Social Initiative and Cooperation was only a significant predictor when Independence was controlled for.