Parenting in the Pacific islands

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IN most Pacific islands, child rearing is shared among family members and other relatives. Children themselves, at an early age, become caretakers for their own younger brothers and sisters.

But one islander interviewed by this writer believes that traditional parenting no longer fits today’s socioeconomic lifestyle.

Vivian Eledui, a music artist who is also an elementary school teacher and a mother, said she advises her children on how to make the right choices. But she never forces her desired choices on her children. Her children made choices for themselves while growing up and they turned out fine. Eledui believes that authoritative parenting is still necessary, but not to the point when the child is forced to meet the parents’ expectation.

Parenting categories include authoritative (high warmth, high control); authoritarian (less warmth, high control); permissive (high warmth, low control); and neglectful (low warmth, low control).

Parents are considered neglectful, for example, if they allow their children to watch TV or go online all the time.

Some say the best parenting style is to be outwardly kind and loving but with a high degree of control. Children, moreover, need structured time-outs. It’s essential for their growth and development to play and engage in activities with the family, such as hiking and other physical exercises.

A new study co-authored by Yale economist Fabrizio Zilibotti states that parenting styles are shaped by economic factors that incentivize one strategy over others. “All parents want their children to succeed, and…the economic environment influences their methods of childrearing.”

Permissive parents are those who emphasize the values of imagination and independence in rearing children. Authoritarian and authoritative parents are those who insist on the importance of hard work and obedience. In countries where inequality is widespread, parents are less permissive. In countries with more redistributive taxation, more social expenditures, and stronger civil rights protection, parents are significantly more permissive.

The Yale researchers said their theory can help explain the recent rise of “helicopter parenting,” a version of the authoritative style in which parents seek to influence their children’s choices through a combination of persuasion and intensive monitoring. The researchers said this parenting style has “gained purchase in the United States as economic inequality increases, inducing a shift to more intensive parenting to strengthen the children’s drive for achievement and prevent them from risky behaviors.”


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