Cultural differences when raising children
- Your cultural background can influence how you raise your children.
- You may have different parenting views to your family members, which can be stressful for your child.
- Find common ground and involve both cultures in your child’s life, so they feel a sense of belonging and security.
- Teach your child about cultural differences outside of the home. This helps them respect others and themselves.
How do cultural differences affect parenting?
Your cultural background will influence how you raise your children. You may have certain ideas about:
- sleeping arrangements
- children’s responsibilities
- how independent children are
- who looks after the children
- how much time you spend with your children
Some cultures expect children to be quiet and always respect their elders. Other cultures encourage children to speak up and be independent.
How do I handle cultural clashes in my home?
It’s common for parents and families to disagree about how to raise a child.
Disagreement in a multicultural home can be upsetting for your child, and conflicting rules can confuse them. They may also feel like they have to choose one culture over the other, which can be stressful.
If you and your partner are from different cultures, you might have different ideas. Communication is the key to overcoming these issues.
Regardless of your cultural background, you should talk to your partner about how you want your family to be. Try to find creative ways to raise your child in both cultures by:
- speaking to your child in more than one language
- telling them stories about your culture
- involving them in traditional celebrations
With your partner, discuss which traditions and values you would like your family to follow. If you disagree, try to find the middle ground. This will help your child feel safe and secure with both of you. It will also help them learn about your cultures and feel they belong.
If you experience cultural conflict in your extended family, you and your partner should work as a team.
Once you and your partner agree on a parenting issue, discuss your decision with other family members, such as grandparents.
Family members often just want the best for you and your child. You can set boundaries to help you work together as a family to care for your child. Communicate with your partner and family by:
- standing up for yourself while still respecting their beliefs and feelings
- speaking calmly and firmly
- providing constructive criticism but not placing blame
- using calm, open body language
- reminding them that you appreciate the good things they bring to the relationship
- thanking them when they respect your boundaries
How do I handle cultural clashes outside of my home?
Australia is a multicultural society. This means that everyone is free to express and share their culture.
You might notice differences in how children are raised in Australia compared with what you are used to.
These differences can affect how your children view your parenting style and can cause tensions as your children grow older.
Healthcare, childcare and education
Sometimes you may notice cultural differences when your child goes to childcare or school, or when you visit the doctor or other healthcare services. You might also notice differences when you visit with friends.
It’s understandable that you might worry that your children will lose traditional values when they are exposed to Australian people or schools. You might also feel sad that your child is having different experiences than you did at their age and not quite understand what to do.
Your child may also be confused by different practices outside of your home.
If this is the case, talk to the staff at your child’s school or childcare centre, or at the doctor’s office, about how you can work together to meet your family’s cultural needs.
Staff will be able to support you better when they understand and respect your culture. This can help you feel more comfortable and provide the best support for your child.
It’s important for children to experience other cultures so that they learn to:
- respect other cultures and people
- respect themselves and their culture
- overcome discrimination
A lack of respect can lead to cultural discrimination. This can affect your child later in life, and cause feelings of:
- distrust and isolation
- depression and anxiety
- anger and frustration
You can encourage cultural acceptance by:
- avoiding anger and conflict in front of your child
- assuring your child that they’re not alone in their experiences
- involving them in your culture
- having pride in your culture, and talking positively about others
- encouraging them to have multicultural experiences, through music, art, and friendships
- talking with them about stereotypes, and how discrimination is wrong
Resources and Support
You can learn more here about the culture of parenting in Australia.
Hear from other parents on how they experienced parenting and raising children in Australia.
You can find information and support about family relationships here:
- Family Relationships Online — 1800 050 321
- Relationships Australia — 1300 264 277
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 for support and advice. You can use the Translating and Interpreting Service to call.
Speak to a maternal child health nurse
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: February 2023