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Abstract The extremely high quality of the ethnography in this collection of articles is attested by the various challenges the authors pose to my own previously published ideas about universals of child rearing. In a 2005 article, I posited that child rearers everywhere (1) engineer the environment to insure that the child's experience of the lessons to be learned is constant, so as not to dilute their impact; (2) use emotionally arousing techniques such as beating, frightening, shaming, teasing, and praising to make these lessons motivating and memorable; (3) enlist the further motivational force of approval for good behavior and disapproval for bad; and (4) predispose or prime the young child with foundational components or simpler versions of the lessons to be learned, readying the child for these later, more complex lessons. I find it necessary and helpful to qualify each of the four claims in light of the case studies presented in this issue. [mothering, child rearing; universals; ethnography and theory; case studies]