To a great extent, culture determines the way children are brought up and raised. Child rearing practices vary from culture to culture. Families in all societies have three basic goals for their children (LeVine, 1974). First, families have the survival goal, which promotes the physical survival and health of the child. Second, there is the economic goal, which is used to foster skills and behavioral capacities that the child needs for economic self-maintenance as an adult. Lastly, there is the self-actualization goal, which is used in order to foster behavioral capabilities for maximizing cultural values such as morality, religion and achievement. While these basic goals that parents have for their children are similar, culture can produce variations in the behavior and beliefs of parents. These differences in behavior and beliefs the parents hold affect their child-rearing practices. The child-rearing practices among the Mexican-American families and Native-Americans are examined throughout this paper.
The Mexican culture has a very rich heritage of both Indian and Spanish ancestry, which have great influence on raising children. Mexico was a patriarchal society under the Spanish legal system. Traditionally children were wards of their fathers. Women only had rights over their children in extreme circumstances such as default of a natural or appointed male relative. The premise of Spanish family law was primarily unchanged until the late 19th century and was not significantly revised until the 1960s (Lavrin, 1991).
Today, in Mexican households in both the United States and Mexico there is still a traditional division of labor by gender. For example, girls help their mothers in the kitchen and boys help their fathers in the yard. In addition to the division of labor by gender, in the Mexican culture adult males are "expected" to be dominant over adult females (Bronstein, 1994).
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