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April 2009Vol. 10, No. 3Promoting Culturally Competent Parenting Practices

A new research brief from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, offers insights into the differences and similarities in parenting values and practices across different cultural groups. Promoting Healthy Parenting Practices Across Cultural Groups: A CDC Research Brief presents the results of a study examining cultural issues around parenting strategies in five cultural groups: African-Americans, American Indians, Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and non-Hispanic Whites.

Eight focus groups were conducted with each of the groups for a total of 40 focus groups held in six U.S. cities. Mothers and fathers participated in separate discussions regarding parents' responses to children's behavior and views of desirable and undesirable parenting practices. The study revealed that parents from all cultural backgrounds held many similar views regarding good child behaviors (i.e., respectfulness, obedience, and politeness) as well as acceptable disciplinary tactics (i.e., signaling disapproval, explaining, and setting limits). However, there were differences in parents' comfort levels with certain strategies for addressing misbehavior, such as time-out, emotional control, ignoring, and physical punishment.

The results of the study can help guide the development and delivery of healthy parenting messages and programs that more accurately reflect the cultural diversity of today's society. Parenting programs can be effective with a multicultural audience by emphasizing the basic parenting practices accepted across cultural groups while maintaining sensitivity to cultural norms. The report suggests that programs should discuss ways to reframe effective parenting strategies to "fit" with parents' cultural beliefs and to help parents solve problems that are relevant to them.

Promoting Healthy Parenting Practices Across Cultural Groups: A CDC Research Brief, by Keri M. Lubell, Teresa Lofton, and Helen Harber Singer, is available on the CDC website: (6,290 KB)