Measuring Parent Cultural Socialization Practices: Extending the Research to Diverse Racial-Ethnic Groups in Canada

By Chakawa, Ayanda; Hoglund, Wendy L. G. | Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, April 2016 | Go to article overview

Measuring Parent Cultural Socialization Practices: Extending the Research to Diverse Racial-Ethnic Groups in Canada


Chakawa, Ayanda, Hoglund, Wendy L. G., Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science


Cultural socialization practices (CSP) are the mechanisms by which parents implicitly and explicitly teach their children about their racial- ethnic heritage and promote values and positive attitudes about their culture (i.e., socially transmitted customs and beliefs) or racial- ethnic group (Hughes et al., 2006). Interest in parent CSP has grown due to evidence suggesting that this positive child-rearing strategy is associated with adaptive outcomes (e.g., cognitive competence, positive social- emotional adjustment, fewer problem behaviours) among racial- ethnic minority children (Bannon, McKay, Chacko, Rodriguez, & Cavaleri, 2009; Caughy, Nettles, & Lima, 2011). Yet, with the exception of a few Canadian-based studies (e.g., Cheah & Chirkov, 2008; Lalonde, Jones, & Stroink, 2008), research on CSP has primarily been conducted in the United States with samples of parents of older youth (e.g., Hernández, Conger, Robins, Bacher, & Widaman, 2014; Phinney & Chavira, 1995; Priest et al., 2014). None of these studies have examined whether CSP instruments assess a unique construct from other parenting practices that have also been associated with adaptive outcomes. These studies have also not explored whether the structure of available CSP instruments functions similarly across racial- ethnic groups. Previous research on CSP has also largely focused on select racial- ethnic minority parents (i.e., African American and Latin American populations) to the exclusion of other racial- ethnic minority parents (e.g., Aboriginal, South Asian) and also racial- ethnic majority parents (i.e., White or European background). Thus, the broad use of existing measures of parent CSP has been hampered due to limited evidence on the psychometric validity of these instruments across diverse racial- ethnic minority and majority groups.

To address these limitations, the current study explores the psychometric properties of a measure designed to assess parent CSP among a sample of racially-ethnically diverse parents located in Western Canada. The following literature review sets the stage for the current study by describing theoretical perspectives on parent CSP, the importance of assessing the psychometric properties of test scores reported on a measure assessing CSP across racially-ethnically diverse parents, and research on racial- ethnic differences in the frequency of parent engagement in CSP.

Theoretical Perspectives on Parent Cultural Socialization Practices

Research on CSP is based on socialization theory that argues for the primacy of parents in supporting their children's social development (Miller & Goodnow, 1995). Socialization is the process by which children come to develop and express specific values, beliefs, and behaviours consistent with their cultural group. Parents, particularly racial- ethnic minority parents, often place great importance on educating their children about their culture as a way to prepare them to thrive in racially-ethnically diverse settings (Hughes et al., 2006). To achieve this, parents often engage in a variety of practices to foster their children's understanding of their culture, such as reading books with their children about people from their racial- ethnic group and observing important religious holidays.

Parent CSP have been identified as being especially important in contexts where racial- ethnic minority group cultural traditions, values, and beliefs are not well represented in the dominant culture (Else-Quest & Morse, 2015; Hughes et al., 2008). In this setting, parents are more likely to purposefully use CSP in an effort to help their child embrace their cultural roots when they differ from mainstream practices (Hughes et al., 2008). Most research on CSP has focused on the activities that parents engage in with children during late childhood and adolescence (for an exception, see Caughy et al., 2011), often due to interest in relating these practices to adolescents' emerging racial- ethnic identity (Phinney & Chavira, 1995) or possibly due to assumptions that young children are less cognizant of or sensitive to these socialization practices. …

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