Cultural Differences In Caring For Infants
White American Culture
Among the white Americans, children are mostly slept in their cribs primarily due to the fact that co-sleeping is considered a taboo in this culture (Morelli, et al., 1992). Primarily, American parents prefer the value of independence of infants to the value of closeness with them (Morelli, et al., 1992). I follow the norms too. My child sleeps in his crib. However, his crib is placed in our bedroom. He does not have a separate room like most of the American families arrange for their children. Despite this arrangement, I do not breastfeed my child on demand. Instead, I follow a schedule.
In the African culture, children are always co-slept with their parents. Infants are mostly held during the night. They are breastfed on demand. However, they are rarely nuzzled and kissed. Despite it, the children are very much close to their parents due to the fact that they spend the first few years of their lives in their mother’s arms even while sleeping.
Almost 70-percent of women in America breastfeed their children (Wright & Schanler, 2001). They breastfeed for up to a year. I have a similar routine. However, I prefer giving my child formula milk too because it is nutritionally equivalent to breast milk. I prefer formula milk also due to the fact that breastfeeding in public is considered indecent in the white American culture. Additionally, feeding is done on a pre-decided schedule, and not on demand basis. In my opinion, since I am a working mother, it really affects my choice between breast milk and formula milk for my child. Practically, it is not possible for me to be present with my son all the time. Therefore, I have made a schedule of his feeding routine. Also, I give him formula milk so that his father can feed him when I am on work.
In Africa, all newborns are breastfed by their mothers. They are commonly breastfed for two to three years of age. Formula milk is not an option in African culture due to poverty. The African women do not feel ashamed of breastfeeding their children in the public. Therefore, they do not prefer to give their children formula milk. Also, there is a common taboo in African culture that the parents must stay abstinent from each other during the period of breastfeeding; otherwise, the milk becomes contaminated by war magic and might kill the child.
Both parents play an equal role in taking care of the newborn. In the white American culture, both parents pursue their careers. For this reason, they are not readily available to the child. Thus, both parents manage their time and working hours to spend time with their newborn. I follow a similar pattern in taking care of my child because both my husband and I are working parents.
Mother plays a critically important role in taking care of the infant. In African culture, father mostly goes to work and mother lives her life as a housewife. Therefore, she is more frequently available to address the needs of the infant. For this reason, mother becomes the prime caretaker of the child whereas father plays a passive role in this regard by providing finance to meet the needs of the newborn.
Games and Toys
In the white American culture, the infants play with toys appropriate to their gender, i.e., girls play with dolls whereas boys prefer trucks and cars. Such differentiation in gender is practiced due to the fact that infants themselves prefer toys typed to their gender (Jadva et al., 2010). Also, the peers and family members encourage the white American parents to read and talk to their children even before birth and during infancy. Therefore, overall, white American culture promotes lots of parent-infant interaction. Therefore, I give my son lots of male toys such as firefighter figures, trucks, airplanes, and toy guns.
In the African culture, the newborns are slept with their mothers and breastfed on demand but the mothers do not play with or talk to their children much. The African children usually play with two types of toys, i.e., toys for hunting games such as bows and slingshots, and toy weapons for fighting games such as swords, guns, and knives (Rossie, 2005).
Role of Father
In the white American culture, father plays a role in the life of his children as much as the mother plays. Both of them co-parent the child. It means that both of them are heavily involved in the upbringing of their children. For this reason, children of white American culture have the attributes of warmth and sensitivity towards other people primarily due to the fact that father’s involvement with infant provides a protective function against childhood risks (Cabrera et al., 2017). It is a blessing for me that the father of my child is very engaging with him. He loves spending time with him before and after work. My son also loves spending time with his father. Both are best buddies.
In African culture, the primary role of father is to provide economic support to the family (Richter et al., 2010). Therefore, fathers are not much involved in direct parenting of infants in Africa. Furthermore, the nature of the pair bond, how the fathers were fathered in their childhood, hegemonic models of masculinity, and residential patterns also influence role of fathers in African culture.
Cabrera, N. J., Karberg, E., Malin, J. L., & Aldoney, D. (2017). THE MAGIC OF PLAY: LOW‐INCOME MOTHERS’AND FATHERS’PLAYFULNESS AND CHILDREN'S EMOTION REGULATION AND VOCABULARY SKILLS. Infant mental health journal, 38(6), 757-771.
Jadva, V., Hines, M., & Golombok, S. (2010). Infants’ preferences for toys, colors, and shapes: Sex differences and similarities. Archives of sexual behavior, 39(6), 1261-1273.
Morelli, G. A., Rogoff, B., Oppenheim, D., & Goldsmith, D. (1992). Cultural variation in infants' sleeping arrangements: Questions of independence. Developmental Psychology, 28(4), 604.
Richter, L., Chikovore, J., & Makusha, T. (2010). The status of fatherhood and fathering in South Africa. Childhood education, 86(6), 360-365.
Rossie, J. P. (2005). Saharan and North African Toy and Play Cultures. Children's dolls and doll play. Foreword by Dominique Champault, Stockholm International Toy Research Centre, Stockholm: Royal Institute of Technology, 328, 163.
Wright, A. L., & Schanler, R. J. (2001). The resurgence of breastfeeding at the end of the second millennium. The Journal of nutrition, 131(2), 421S-425S.
Useful LinksFree Essays About Blog
If you have any queries please write to us
Join our mailing list
© All Rights Reserved 2023