How does "Americanism" play into this?

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-02-2003
How does "Americanism" play into this?
Mon, 06-23-2003 - 5:16pm
I wonder to myself how much of our strong feelings about what mothers should/should not do and how much it affects the child is affected by the fact that this is a predominantly American board (with a few friends from overseas). I've had the opportunity to talk with many women from other cultures and countries recently and this is not a big thing to them and they find it odd that it would be a big thing to anyone really. The focus of the interviews was social adjustment into American society. I'll recap my conversations here:

Me with a West African woman (WOH): they really do the "it takes a village..." thing. The whole family unit takes precendence over the relationship btw parent and child. The child is taught to be a child representing the family (which works like a clan) and not just their parents. The parents work very long hours to provide for all family (which might include sisters and brothers, grandparents, kids as well as mom and dad). The thought of a mother staying at home just to care for her kids was described by this woman as "frivolous, she must be doing something else like taking care of her husband too, but most women would work to get money."

A French woman (WOH): felt that she had a lot of time with her kids since she gets ample time off work and her work schedule (which includes about 2 hours in the middle of the day when she goes home and when her kids are home) allows her to spend extra time. She has a nuclear family but are close to her parents and in-laws who live in another French town. The thought of a woman staying home just to stay home, "lots of women do it but we respect that some of us do not want to."

Chinese woman (SAHM): felt that it was her duty to SAH because her husband wanted her to, not because of any particular obligation to her kids. When in China she worked and the kids were cared for by grandma which was fine. When they came to the US the husband saw SAH as a sign of affluence and worked to make that happen. She would much rather work, but doesn't want to dishonor her family by disobeying the husband. About SAH with kids, "when I was in China I had plenty of time for my children and I got to go and work and make money for my family. I miss having the help of my mother since she stayed in China and I miss being able to work."