Discussion 2: Reciprocal Cultural Influence on Children and Adolescents
The broadness of culture, which includes religion, ethnicity, country, and race, was primary to the discussion this week. It is often thought that the behavior of a large group of people is driven by culture, yet despite such influences upon the development of the individuals within that culture, diversity remains significant. The development and change, common to individuals, may also be found within culture influencing both children and adolescents as they grow and develop. Reflective of the stage of development marked by the transition from childhood to adulthood, adolescents are influenced by different cultural norms and parental expectations (Levine, 2011). The reciprocal relationship of culture and child and adolescent culture was therefore explained. Additionally, two ways in which adolescents influence culture and two ways in which culture influences the development of a child/adolescent were identified and supported by learning resources.
Reciprocal Relationship of Culture and Child and Adolescent Culture
The forming of a child’s cultural identity begins at birth through the absorption of family culture and continues throughout the development of the child extending into adolescence (Derman-Sparks & Olsen Edwards, 2010). Thus, the reciprocal relationship of culture and child/adolescent culture reflects the crucial exchange between that culture, which began to be absorbed at birth and continued throughout adolescence as a recipient of culture, and the creation of a new version of culture considerate of the conditions of growth (Levine, 2011). Significant to this explanation is the adolescent influence on culture and the ways in which culture influences child and adolescent development.
Adolescents Influence Culture
Levine (2011) suggests that the personal decisions made within a historical context extend beyond the receiving of culture from the adolescent’s parent. Levine (2011) assumes the role of creating new versions of culture reflective of the conditions in which the adolescent grows and are the result of such personal decisions. For example, over a period of 40 or 50 years, adolescent females made personal decisions to become active contributors to change by challenging the culture of families by increasing female school enrollment which delayed the age to be married, and added contraceptive use (LeVine et al., 2001). Adolescents may also generate social transformation acting in noncompliance of the societal norm as in the breaking of traditional customs associated with culture in the accommodation of new social norms. Such was the case of adolescent boys with intercultural experience convincing people within their culture to embrace a new national norm of handshaking with members of an adjacent generation (i.e. your parents or children) and acting as “intermediaries” to social transformation (Levin, 2011).
Culture Influences Child/Adolescent Development
Culture plays an important role in how a child or adolescent makes sense of the world. The existence of a strong cultural presence will therefore have an influential impact upon that child and/or adolescent’s development affecting behavior and moral standards. Parents and families are the foundations responsible for the shaping of a child or adolescent’s personality and identity affecting behavior and influencing moral standards. Therefore, parenting from different cultures will emphasize different values thus influencing moral standards. Additionally, the instilling of cultural values and social norms are foundational to the decision-making process and to behavior (Derman-Sparks & Olsen Edwards, 2010).
Religion, ethnicity, country, and race all constitute culture. Although the behavior of a large group of people is driven by culture, there are influences which impact the development of individuals within that culture. This same development and change may also be found within culture influencing both children and adolescents as they grow and develop.
Derman-Sparks, L., & Olsen Edwards, J. (2010). Anti-bias education for young children and
ourselves. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.
LeVine, R. A., LeVine, S. E. & Schnell, B. (2001). Improve the women: Mass
schooling, female literacy and worldwide social change. Harvard Educational Review
Levine, R. A. (2011). Traditions in transition: Adolescents remaking culture. ETHOS, 39(4),
The learning resources this week allowed us to take a deeper look at our own relationship with culture. Culture can be easily defined as the text states: “how particular groups of people live (Derman-Sparks, 2010). Culture can also have many layers as is explained by Cardemil’s many articles and discussions (2010). Regardless of definition, many theorists suggest that not only do we influence and dictate our culture but the culture we are exposed to influences us as we develop.
- Two ways that children influence culture
First off, I will approach the idea in which children themselves affect and influence culture. I vividly remember desperately trying to get my Mom to understand and actually enjoy my music choice when I was about 11-13 years old. My mom would always say, after patiently allowing me to try to convince her that party rap was her jam, “If I like your music there is something wrong”. This took me a while to understand. Levine describe in the paper Traditions in Transitions this slow shift in generational culture (2011). Gradual shifts in the culture of one generation to the next can easily go unnoticed when looking locally but by taking the research to a longitudinal approach, Levine was able to identify a trend (2011). This trend describes a “directional shift between several cohorts” which describes cultural difference (2011). Another example of children influencing culture, outside of their choice in music, would be a child’s ability to come with an open mind. Many of the learning resources discuss preparing adults for the questions and “scary” scenarios they may encounter with a child that becomes curious about their peer’s skin color being different than their own, but little celebrates this curiosity. Fostering this curiosity and celebrating it rather than hushing it allows the child to know it’s okay to ask questions and diversity is something to celebrate. By showing one child this, that child can take the same attitude and thus foster a culture where diversity is celebrated.
- Two ways that culture influences child development
Now there is the discussion to determine the amount of impact culture has on child development. As mentioned previously the child’s first social community is within the home (Derman-Sparks, 2010). This is where they learn their social role and what is expected of them, in this community (Derman-Sparks, 2010). As children enter preschool and kindergarten, they begin to learn their role in a new social setting thus learning new social rules (Derman-Sparks, 2010). The culture of a classroom (organization, calmness, and attention) can easily influence rambunctious children to become great learners! Environment is on cultural influence on child development, however the ways in which culture shifts and changes also has an impact on the developing child (Cardemil, 2010). Changes allow the developing child to challenge their initial beliefs and truly think through what they think is right. Environment and changes in the at environment allow the child to be in a culture that shapes them through development.
Cardemil, E. V. (2010). The complexity of culture: Do we embrace the challenge or avoid it? The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice: Objective Investigations of Controversial and Unorthodox Claims in Clinical Psychology, Psychiatry, and Social Work, 7(2), 41–47.
Derman-Sparks, L., & Olsen Edwards, J. (2010). Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.55-76
Levine, R. A. (2011). Traditions in transition: Adolescents remaking culture. ETHOS, 39(4), 426–431. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.