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Mothers' beliefs about child development, parenting and developmental delay: A cross-cultural comparison

Rowley, Rebecca; (2004) Mothers' beliefs about child development, parenting and developmental delay: A cross-cultural comparison. Doctoral thesis (D.Clin.Psy), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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It is now widely recognised that culture plays an important role in shaping ideas about child development and parenting (e.g. Harkness, Raeff and Super, 2000). Numerous studies have shown cross-cultural differences in the types of competencies parents encourage in children, the age at which parents expect developmental skills to be acquired and the methods parents use to promote these skills. Cross-cultural differences have also emerged in relation to parents' ideas about developmental delay, their beliefs about intervention, and support seeking behaviours (e.g. Danesco, 1997). Within the UK, where referrals to child development and learning disability services are Increasingly culturally diverse, it is important for professionals to develop an awareness of cultural practices and beliefs in order to provide services which are culturally sensitive. This point is soon to be echoed in the new National Service Framework for Children (Department of Health, forthcoming). Despite the recent emphasis on delivery of culturally sensitive services, previous researchers have consistently highlighted the shortcomings of health and social care services for ethnic minority groups. Inequalities faced by parents from South Asian communities who have a child with a learning difficulty, have been a particular cause for concern. This group have been shown to experience substantial discrimination and inequality in their access to health, social, education and welfare services (e.g. Mir et at. 2001), a factor which Is often partly linked to poor professional knowledge and sensitivity to cultural and religious belief systems. Very little is currently known about South Asian parents' beliefs about child development, parenting and developmental delay despite the relevance of these areas to clinical practice. Therefore, 10 South Asian mothers and 10 white British mothers of a child with global developmental delay were interviewed about their beliefs about typical child development, their child rearing practices and the factors influencing their ideas about child development and parenting. Beliefs about developmental delay and support seeking behaviour were also investigated. The data were analysed using thematic content analysis and quantitative methods. In relation to typical child development, results indicated that South Asian mothers and white British mothers held similar beliefs about the age at which children achieve different developmental skills. However, differences emerged in terms of the importance attached to the development of different skills. South Asian mothers were significantly less likely to highlight the importance of self-help skills compared to white British mothers. South Asian mothers were also significantly less likely to expect gender differences in children's acquisition of skills. Factors influencing mothers' ideas about child development and parenting differed cross-culturally. Significantly more white British mothers than South Asian mothers were influenced by friends, professionals and books and media, whilst significantly more South Asian mothers were influenced by their religious beliefs. Parenting practices, such as toilet training, also differed between the two groups. In relation to developmental delay, the groups differed in terms of their understanding and explanations of developmental delay. South Asian mothers were less likely to use medical and biological explanations of their child's difficulties than white British mothers. Help-seeking behaviours also differed cross-culturally, with South Asian mother more likely to turn to religious persons for support and less likely to turn to professionals for support than white British mothers. In relation to experiences of support services offered, mothers identified similar shortfalls in service provision. These included "being kept in the dark" about their child's difficulties, being confused about the organisation of the support system, having to "battle" to receive support, feeling that resources were either too few or inappropriate, and feeling that professionals failed to hold in mind a complete picture of their child's difficulties. These results are discussed in the context of existing literature together with suggestions for future research and the clinical implications of the study.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: D.Clin.Psy
Title: Mothers' beliefs about child development, parenting and developmental delay: A cross-cultural comparison
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Psychology; Cross-cultural comparison; Developmental delay
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10099863
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