Mother–Child Relationships in France: Balancing Autonomy and Affiliation in Everyday Interactions

Authors

  • MARIE-ANNE SUIZZO

    1. MARIE-ANNE SUIZZO is Assistant Professor of Human Development and Education in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin
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Abstract

French child-rearing beliefs share features of both individualist and collectivist cultural orientations and have appeared contradictory within this individualism–collectivism framework in previous research. For this study, 32 Parisian mothers of infants and young children were interviewed regarding four possible sources of variation in their relationships with their children: interpersonal distance, communicative accommodation, desirable and undesirable early behaviors, and long-term goals and values. Five themes are identified and a cultural model of Parisian parenting is elaborated, demonstrating how beliefs, practices, and goals are connected in mothers' minds. This study demonstrates that individualism and collectivism are orthogonal, multifaceted orientations, each containing dimensions, such as autonomy as separateness and group affiliation and belonging, that can coexist both harmoniously and in dynamic tension within individuals and within cultures.

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