This assignment is based on the book titled Parenting without borders: Surprising lessons parents around the world can teach us written by Christine Gross-Loh. The focus of the assignment is on the parenting approaches discussed in the book in relation to what we have covered in class.
With regard to bed sharing, physical and social setting can be applied to evaluate the way children react when they share beds with their parents and other family members. Parental beliefs can be used to evaluate the way parents respond when children cry in distress at night while customs can be used to evaluate the cultural practices of sharing beds in non-U.S cultures.
Mesosystem: The aspect of sharing bed in non-U.S cultures is demonstrated as helping children to foster later independence and to be self-reliant (Gross-Loh, 2013).
Exosystem: Japanese teachers play critical roles in ensuring that children eat everything packed in their lunch boxes. If children do not eat everything packed in their lunch boxes, teachers report the matter to parents. In this case, teachers are involved in ensuring that children do not waste food and that they eat food as expected of them even when they are not at home (Bjorklund, 2012).
Macrosystem: The critical role that cultural ideologies play in determining the number of toys that parents buy for their children in different communities. In the French community, the members of the community believe in frustrating their children by buying them fewer toys than they need to train them some important life lessons. In the American community, U.S parents believe in buying their children more toys as a way of giving their children the best (Gross-Loh, 2013).
Examples from the Book
Family system theory: The way children share beds with their parents and other siblings in Japan and in other non-U.S culture is a good example of the concept of family systems theory. Children in this case are shown to rely on their parents and other siblings for survival, safety and development of important social skills.
Attachment theory: Co-sleeping with children is a good example of the concept of attachment theory. It is demonstrated as helping children to be self-reliant and trust other people in non-U.S cultures (Becker-Weidman, & Shell, 2010).
Developmental contextualism: The aspect of the way children share beds with their parents in Japan and finally stop sharing those beds with their parents is a good illustration of developmental contextualism from the book. It illustrates the changes that occur in children and their ecological contexts within their families. At first, children share beds with their parents and other siblings, but as they grow up they stop sharing beds and become self-reliant.
Behavior modification: The way Swedish parents encourage their children to eat healthy foods by reinforcing desirable food choices and weakening undesirable food choices is a good example of behavior modification from the book. Through this practice, Swedish children learn to eat healthy foods through learned responses.
Social learning: The value of unstructured plays and pretend plays highlighted in this book is a good example of the way children learn to socialize with their peers through modeling, imitation and observation.
Democratic child training: The way Japanese children are allowed and encouraged to participate in pretend play is a good example of democratic child training. Through these plays, children learn to set appropriate limits and practice mutual respect for one another through collective decision making processes. By doing this, children discover the importance of solving certain interaction problems as they interact with their peers.
Communication skills: The Swedish way of teaching children the right type of foods to eat is a good example of counseling based communication. Through counseling, children learn to choose the right foods that are healthy.
Authoritative: A good example of this type of parenting behavior from the book is that of deciding the type of food that children should take, but allowing children to enjoy some exceptions through guidance. This parenting behavior is common in Sweden where parents decide what their children should eat, but guide them in making the right decisions (Gross-Loh, 2013). In this case, Swedish parents provide different types of food to their children and ask them to choose for themselves.
Authoritarian parenting: A good example of this type of parenting behavior from the book is that of deciding the type of food that children should eat and sticking to that decision. This parenting behavior is common in Japan where parents choose food for their children and the way children should take their food.
Permissive parenting: A good example of permissive parenting from the book is that of allowing children to decide the types of food they should eat. This behavior is common in USA than in any other country.
The issue of sharing bed with children is a good example of bi-directional influence in the parent-child relationship. On one hand, it helps children to be self-reliant when they grow up. On the other hand, it helps parents to bond with their children.
Examples of Developmentally Responsive Parenting
Co-sleeping is the first example of developmentally responsive parenting from this book. In Japan, parents are shown to respond to the needs of their children by sharing beds with them. Japanese parents are also shown to chase their children out of their beds as soon as those children attain a certain age.
The second parenting approach that is developmentally responsive is that of buying children toys. This practice changes with the age of children.
The third parenting approach that is developmentally responsive is that of ensuring that children learn to eat healthy food. In Sweden children are taught to choose healthy foods when they are young, but when they grow up they are left on their own to choose for themselves without the influence of their parents.
Developmental Assets Promoted
The first developmental asset promoted by parenting approaches described in this book is that of promoting children’s social skills. This developmental asset is promoted through unstructured plays that children engage in others parts of the world. The unstructured plays are demonstrated as helping children to develop different social skills.
The second developmental asset promoted by this book is that of helping children to grow up to be adult. This developmental asset is seen in different parts of the book, but one particular area is that seen from French lesson of delayed gratification. In this lesson, the book’s author claims that parents should help their children to operate in the world like sentient adults (Gross-Loh, 2013). They should particularly help their children to learn to become adults by learning to wait. Like in France, parents should not buy their children all the toys they want. Sometimes, they should frustrate their children simply to teach them the gratification that comes with waiting.
The third developmental asset promoted in this book is that of helping children to learn to be independent when the right time comes. This developmental asset is seen in non-U.S cultures that although they co-sleep with their children, they chase them away from their beds when the right time comes. In U.S culture, children sleep on their own beds right from birth. Inasmuch as this practice is good for helping children to learn to be independent at early age, it denies U.S children the emotional attachment they need from their caregivers (parents).
Developmental Assets Impeded
The first developmental asset that is likely to be impeded by the parenting approaches described in this book is that of providing our children with everything they require to make their lives enjoyable. The book’s author claims that we should learn to buy less for our children. She insists that not everything that children want is necessary for their lives. Accordingly, we should teach our children that they do not need the latest iPod or the best car to improve their performances, overall self-esteem or happiness.
The second developmental asset that is likely to be impeded by parenting approaches described in this book is that of helping our children to sleep on their own beds. The book’s authors appear to advocate that U.S parents should learn to share bed with their toddlers. If U.S parents would co-sleep with their toddlers, definitely the U.S children would not learn to sleep on their own beds right from birth like they do. Instead, they would learn to share beds with their parents (Gross-Loh, 2013).
The third developmental asset that is likely to be impeded by parenting approaches described in this book is that of getting involved in the lives of our children through structured plays. If U.S parent would follow instructions provided in the book, they might not play any part in helping their children identify their areas of interest.
Personal and Professional Reactions
Overall, I was surprised by the way French people teach their children to be sentient adults by frustrating them. If I had the opportunity to meet a French person, I would like to know whether French people are not accused of depriving children important aspects of their lives.
In spite of the above, I agreed with the critical role that unstructured plays play in children’s development. I acknowledge the fact that childhood games help children to construct meaning and make sense of the world around them as well as discover their areas of interests.
However, I disagreed with the fact that parents should not be involved in the lives of their children as those children discover their areas of interest. To me this does not sound right because parents play critical roles in shaping the future of their children. Accordingly, they should be involved in the lives of their children to help them to discover their areas of interest.
This book contributed to my understanding of parent-child relationships by evaluating critically the importance of sharing beds with children. Like every other person brought up in USA, I did not consider this practice to be important in enhancing parent-child relationship. However, after reading this book, I understood the critical role that sharing bed with children plays in promoting their development.
This book could be helpful to U.S parents in different ways. First, it could help them to appreciate the importance of sharing beds with children. In contrast to the current practice that discourages U.S parents from sharing beds with their children, U.S parents would learn to appreciate that sharing beds with children helps them to develop some social skills that most U.S children lack. Second, the book would help U.S parents to understand the importance of buying their children less toys than they need. This would go a long way in helping U.S children to learn to wait and that they do not need everything in this world (Gross-Loh, 2013). Third, the book would help U.S parents to allow their children to engage in unstructured plays rather than occupying their children with busy schedules throughout their childhood.
Although this book has been helpful to me in understanding different parenting approaches, after reading it I am left wondering about the amount of influence that Japanese parents have on their children. I do not understand how these parents discipline their children without violating the law whenever these children do not follow their strict instructions.
Becker-Weidman, A., & Shell, D. (2010). Attachment parenting: Developing connections and healing children. Lanham: Jason Aronson.
Bjorklund, D. (2012). Child & adolescent development: An integrated approach. Belmont: Wadsworth.
Gross-Loh, C. (2013). Parenting without borders: Surprising lessons parents around the world can teach us. New York: Avery.