Early care-giving is a major factor for a child to feel secure to explore the world around them (Carbonell, Alzate, Bustamente & Quiceno , 2002). How different is this early care-giving between two cultures such as the United States and Colombia? This is a look at the differences and similiaries of raising girls, both born in 1988, in Colombia and the United States. Both girls were raised in nuclear families, with one older sibling, close enough in age to be a major part of each girl's daily life. One was raised in Colombia, although she moved to the United States at the age of eleven, while the other was raised completely in the United States. Both parents of each girl were interviewed as well as the girl herself.
The basic stepping stones, the times that parents love to videotape, the "baby's first" moments all seem to happen relatively similarly in both girls. Self-reported by Paulina, was that she walked around the age of ten months. Similarly, Jane walked at the age of ten months. Both were somewhat delayed in speech, enough so to be taken to doctors. In each case, the parents were told that the child would speak if the family stopped following the non-verbal directions from the child. Paulina's first words were "eso," Spanish for "that," and "Ma." Jane's first word was "Ah-yah" which was meant to be "Alex," her brother's name. Paulina stood alone at the age of eight months (personal communication with subject), as did Jane (personal communication with subject).
Punishment is something all parents must figure out. Hispanics tend to mollify children and be more lenient (Figueroa-Moseley, Ramey, Keltner & Lanzi, 2006). Hispanic parents tend to try to calm their child rather than work towards developmental goals, which tend to be more valued in the United States. Neither girl was punished in the form of "grounding," but both were warned with simple looks from their parents, such as glaring and both girls were yelled at as well. Corporal punishment was used for each girl as well. Paulina was "smacked," and Jane was occasionally spanked. Jane would be sent to her room or made to sit in a chair as in a "Time Out," however Paulina never experienced a "Time Out" and recollects that such a thing was not common in Colombia.
Both girls were raised to speak their mind, and not wait to be spoken to, as long as what was said was respectful. Questions were welcomed by both families, but the girls were expected to know the time and place in which to ask questions. Each girl was also allowed to pick out her own clothes, which has been shown to be good for children, as children see it is important for them to make some of their own decisions, and identify with the choices (Ardila-Rey, Killen, 2001). Paulina's mother tried to teach her what matched, but eventually gave up trying when it, although Colombian mothers tend to worry about the outward appearance of their children (Carbonell et al, 2002). When asked what Jane would choose to wear, Jane's mother replied, "Anything that didn't match," although she, too, tried to teach her daughter matching. No major restrictions were set upon either girl, except to be respectful. Respect was emphasized in both situations.
As respect was emphasized from child to adult, so was it shown from adult to child. Both children were kept informed of what was happening in the family. Children were expected to be a part of dinner conversation and were allowed to participate in the adults' lives. Also, both children were given reasoning behind decisions and had things explained"because I said so" was used only when the situation would be later explained, and the consequences of an action were described rather than a mere "don't do it."
Chores were a part of each girl's life as well. Both were expected to do what was asked of them to help around the house-- dusting, vacuuming, clearing the table, etc. Jane was expected to help with dinner, which included getting food from the refrigerator,...
References: Ardila-Rey, A. & Killen, M. (2001). Middle class Colombian children 's evaluations of
personal, moral, and social-conventional interactions in the classroom
Berger, K. (2006). The Developing Person: Through Childhood and Adolescence (7th
Figueroa, C., Ramey, C., Keltner, B., & Lanzi, R. (2006). Variations in Latino Parenting
Practices and Their Effects on Child Cognitive Developmental Outcomes.
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