Thursday, May 16, 2013

Face Time

From the “more evidence you probably aren’t doing parenting wrong” files:

When talking to their babies, French mothers refer to “someone else” only 10 percent of the time.  Compare this to mothers from West Africa, who refer their “others” in their interactions with their babies 40 percent of time.

The study concluded French mothers were preparing their children for a culture where life was conducted one-on-one, whereas West African mothers expected more communal engagement.

Is one preferable over the other?  Not really.  Sure, a child raised with a more communal upbringing might not fit perfectly into French life, but would such a fit be impossible?  Hardly.

The study notes that Western parents emphasis face-to-face interaction so much so that “we think of this sort of dyadic interaction as what parenting is.” 

But parenting differs wildly by culture.  Middle-class American mothers spend twice as much time staring at their babies’ faces as middle-class Japanese mothers.  The story features a fascinating story about an experiment involving German and Cameroonian Nso mothers.  Shown video of the other parents’ style, each was unimpressed.  You see, the Nso carry their babies facing outwards.  As a result, babies of the Nso almost never see their mother.

Some bad news, though, if you want independent children: such children are less likely to pick up their room.

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