Mums and Dads from opposite sides of the globe will share their experience of raising their children to help researchers build a picture of the effects of culture and individual beliefs on parenting practices.
Baby care from East to West
Merideth Gattis from the University’s School of Psychology is working with Professor Terry Au of Hong Kong University to evaluate parenting choices in Britain and China.
The research will be based on the Baby Care Questionnaire, developed by Gattis and her colleague Alice Winstanley, which measures parenting principles and practices such as feeding and infant sleeping arrangements.
Gattis said: "Advice for new parents is ubiquitous, and frequently contradictory. Little is known about how parents respond to this advice and why they choose certain caregiving practices over others.
"Previous studies with the Baby Care Questionnaire found that parents differ in their support of two basic principles - structure which refers to a reliance on routines, and attunement which refers to reliance on the infant’s cues.
"Using the Baby Care Questionnaire we will measure parenting choices in the UK, Hong Kong, and mainland China. This will help us evaluate whether relationships between parenting principles and practices are specific to certain cultures or socioeconomic conditions, or are more general. It will also produce a cross-culturally valid measure of parenting during infancy."
The research will help address a wide range of questions, including how parenting environments during infancy influence social and cognitive development, and how changing socioeconomic and political conditions around the world are influencing families.
Gattis added: "Gathering evidence across cultures and nations is an important step in building a more accurate understanding of parenting during infancy, including broad principles and specific caregiving practices. The research will be of use not only to psychologists, but to charities, policy makers and medical practitioners.
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