Teacher or playmate? Asian immigrant and Euro-American parents’ participation in their young children’s daily activities

Parminder Parmar1, Sara Harkness2, Charles M. Super2
1Pennsylvania State University, United States
2University of Connecticut, United States
Cite this article:  Parmar, P. , Harkness, S. , & Super, C. M. (2008). Teacher or playmate? Asian immigrant and Euro-American parents’ participation in their young children’s daily activities. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 36, 163-176.

Volume 36 Issue 2 | e1693 | Published: March 2008 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2008.36.2.163

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Parents often arrange activities for their children either by providing them with opportunities or restricting their participation. The way children spend their time affects their cognitive and social development. This study compares the involvement of Asian immigrant and Euro-American parents in their young children’s daily activities, with particular attention to two contrasting roles: teacher and playmate. Parents of children aged 3 to 6 years (n = 24 children in each group) kept daily logs of their children’s activities and companions for a week. Results show that parents in both groups spent similar amounts of time in play activities with their children, although the Euro-American parents did more pretend play and the Asian parents did more constructive play. However, Asian parents spent far more time on preacademic activities with their children such as learning letters and numbers, playing math games, and working with the computer. The cultural differences among parents are mirrored to a lesser extent by patterns of participation of siblings, friends, and babysitters with the target children. These results are discussed in relation to universality and cultural specificity of parenting beliefs and practices.

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