Need to talk? Call 1800 882 436.
It's a free call with a maternal child health nurse. *call charges may apply from your mobile

Is it an emergency? Dial 000
If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately.

beginning of content

Cultural differences when raising children

4-minute read

Your cultural background can affect how you parent, how you understand your children and how you teach them. When people from different cultures become parents, it is normal for them to have different opinions about how to raise children.

How cultural differences affect parenting

People from different cultures have different relationships with their children. For example, some cultures expect children to be quiet and always respect their elders, while other cultures encourage children to speak up and be independent. If you and your partner are from different cultures, you might have different ideas about issues like discipline, who looks after the children, sleeping arrangements, food, and how much time you spend with your children.

It is important for children to feel secure with the adults who look after them. It is also important for children to know their culture. Sometimes children who live in homes where there are 2 cultures can become confused and stressed. They might feel they have to choose one culture over the other. It is important for you to agree on what is right so your children feel they belong to both cultures. This will help them feel better about themselves and learn better.

Cultural differences in Australia

You might notice differences in how children are raised in Australia compared with what you are used to. You also might notice differences in how Australian parents show affection to their children, how independent children are, attitudes towards physical punishment and children’s responsibility to their family or community.

These differences can affect how your children view your parenting style and can cause tension as your children grow older. There might be conflict in your family, for example between you and the grandparents. You might also worry that your children will lose traditional values when they are exposed to Australian media, schools and other children.

Tips for dealing with cultural clashes in the family

It is common for parents to disagree sometimes about how to raise a child. Communication is the key to overcoming these differences. Regardless of your cultural background, you should talk to your partner about how you want the family to be.

If you and your partner come from different cultural backgrounds, discuss which traditions and values you would like your family to follow. If you disagree, try to find the middle ground. Once you have agreed on a united plan, it is important to discuss your decisions with other family members, such as grandparents. Set boundaries to avoid problems later on.

Tips for overcoming cultural clashes

  • Try to find creative ways to raise your child in 2 cultures. For example, speak to your child in more than one language, tell them stories about your culture and involve them in traditional celebrations.
  • Support your partner and work as a team. Let family members know you have discussed an issue and that you agree on what is best for your child.
  • Understand that family members want the best for you and your child, even if you do not agree with their views and advice. Let them know you appreciate the good things they bring to the relationship.
  • Learn about parenting in Australia and what the expectations are in this country.
  • Be flexible and listen to your children.
  • Be patient and seek support.

Cultural differences in Australia’s health and child care system

Australia is a multicultural society. That means everyone is free to express and share their culture.

However, sometimes you may notice cultural differences when your child goes to child care or to the doctor or other health service. You might not quite understand what to do, and your child may be confused by different practices outside the home.

If this is the case, talk to child care and/or health care staff about your family’s cultural needs. Staff will be able to support you better when they understand and respect your culture.

Where to go for advice

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 for support and advice. You can use the Translating and Interpreting Service to call.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: January 2021


Back To Top

Need more information?

Diverse cultures: connecting with kids | Raising Children Network

In this video, mums from diverse cultural backgrounds talk about how they connect with their children and encourage them to learn and develop.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Parenting in a new country | Raising Children Network

This video is about being a parent in a new country. Mums from migrant and diverse cultural backgrounds talk about starting a family in Australia.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Child and Family Health Service • Multicultural Families

The Child and Family Health Service recognises and welcomes families who come from new and established culturally diverse communities around South Australia

Read more on Child and Family Health Service website

Frequently Asked Questions I Stating Blocks

Get all the information for parents on important questions on early childhood education and care.

Read more on Starting Blocks website

Risk factors for Perinatal Anxiety - Gidget Foundation

Risk Factors Perinatal depression and anxiety can strike anyone: first-time parents, experienced parents, older parents, younger parents, and parents from all socioeconomic backgrounds and cultures

Read more on Gidget Foundation Australia website

Multicultural resources and links | Raising Children Network

Links to resources, services and support organisations for multicultural and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Engaging with families and children - Emerging Minds

Engaging with families and children Emerging Minds, Australia, 2018 Related to Child and family Contents: Partnerships Contacting children and families Children and young people Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People Culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds Socially and economically diverse backgrounds Remuneration Engagement Relationship building Orientation Organising meetings or focus groups Support Video footage Partnerships Before identifying and contacting people to partner with, know what your goal and purpose is and have ways of communicating them clearly

Read more on Emerging Minds website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.