Hear our stories': Child-rearing practices of a remote Australian Aboriginal community
ABSTRACT Little is known about Australian Aboriginal world views related to child rearing and child development. The aim of this qualitative study was to provide an opportunity for remote Aboriginal families in Central Australia to share what they felt was important for non-Aboriginal people, working in the same setting, to know about their parenting methods.
A descriptive study was carried out in a remote Central Australian community by an Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researcher, working in partnership, combining ethnographic and participatory approaches. Eight families with children under five were primary participants. Data were collected through participant observation and informal conversational interviews.
Three main interlinked themes were identified through this research: 'fitting in' (integration of children into community life), 'growing up' (children's development) and 'staying strong' (children's autonomy within a communal social structure). In this community, the development of independence and self-reliance within a closely nurturing environment are paramount. Children are taught responsibilities and obligations through interaction in community life from birth. Children's growth and development is not linked to chronological time scales. Rather, children are encouraged and praised for their social and emotional maturity as well as physical development, regardless of the age at which milestones are achieved.
This descriptive study provided an opportunity for Aboriginal people in one remote community to share their perspectives about child rearing and child development. It provides some insights into positive child-rearing practices and perspectives which can assist non-Aboriginal service providers to work more effectively with Aboriginal families.
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ABSTRACT: In this study, we attempted to explore the experiences and beliefs of Aboriginal families as they cared for their children in the first year of life. We collected family stories concerning child rearing, development, behavior, health, and well-being between each infant's birth and first birthday. We found significant differences in parenting behaviors and child-rearing practices between Aboriginal groups and mainstream Australians. Aboriginal parents perceived their children to be autonomous individuals with responsibilities toward a large family group. The children were active agents in determining their own needs, highly prized, and included in all aspects of community life. Concurrent with poverty, neocolonialism, and medical hegemony, child-led parenting styles hamper the effectiveness of health services. Hence, until the planners of Australia's health systems better understand Aboriginal knowledge systems and incorporate them into their planning, we can continue to expect the failure of government and health services among Aboriginal communities.Qualitative Health Research 01/2012; 22(6):777-87. DOI:10.1177/1049732311432717 · 2.19 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: To outline the importance of the clarity of data analysis in the doing and reporting of interview-based qualitative research. We explore the clear links between data analysis and evidence. We argue that transparency in the data analysis process is integral to determining the evidence that is generated. Data analysis must occur concurrently with data collection and comprises an ongoing process of 'testing the fit' between the data collected and analysis. We discuss four steps in the process of thematic data analysis: immersion, coding, categorising and generation of themes. Rigorous and systematic analysis of qualitative data is integral to the production of high-quality research. Studies that give an explicit account of the data analysis process provide insights into how conclusions are reached while studies that explain themes anchored to data and theory produce the strongest evidence.Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 01/2008; 31(6):545-50. DOI:10.1111/j.1753-6405.2007.00141.x · 1.90 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: This paper offers ethnographic observations on the place of “agency” in the lives of Aboriginal children in Central Australia. The focus is on children's play and adult–child interaction in the remote community of Ernabella, the oldest settlement in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, northern South Australia. The circumstance of Aboriginal children in remote areas is introduced as a contrasting picture: on the one hand, the life of Aboriginal families is shaped by their marginalised socio-economic position and dependency on the state, which has become especially evident in the recently intensified efforts by the government to “mainstream” Aboriginal communities deemed in “social chaos” in order to regulate and thereby improve children's lives; on the other there is the social fact that children enjoy a comparatively high level of autonomy within the Aboriginal domain. The much-observed “freedom” from parental discipline, however, does not simply mean that children assert their will without regard for certain social rules. Rather, it is suggested that it is precisely the relatively low level of direct instruction and reprimand by adults that fosters children's ability to pattern their behaviour in relation to one another and to structure their social world and understandings according to the meanings that they co-create. Agency of this kind often occurs through imaginative play and spontaneously. This paper does not address policy issues directly. However, it is relevant as a background paper on Aboriginal children's lives that contributes to the understanding and recognition of existing social capacities outside institutional settings.Children and Youth Services Review 04/2011; 33(4-33):502-508. DOI:10.1016/j.childyouth.2010.05.014 · 1.27 Impact Factor