The interview with an acquaintance from a different cultural background revealed certain interesting characteristics. Having been raised in a Jewish family as an only child, she was influenced by traditional values and beliefs, as well as cultural conventions a great deal. Education was a primary focus throughout her childhood, to the detriment of social contact. As a result, being a college student, she is extremely advanced in her studies, but displaying a certain degree of social awkwardness.
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By comparison, my cultural background had a slightly different impact on my development. Having been raised in a Catholic family, with Spanish and Italian roots, I was influenced by traditional values as well. However, the priorities, stemming from the cultural background, were different. With two brothers and three sisters in the family, and being the second oldest child, I had to learn to cook and clean at ten years old. Taking care of my family was always the highest priority.
While a certain degree of emphasis was also put on education, as was in my acquaintance’s case, it was not a top priority, compared to caring for my brothers and sisters. As a result, the social aspect of my development was always more pronounced, than in her case.
Thus, cultural differences can significantly influence a child’s development. Cultural background is a framework of norms, which is pre-built for the child to accept. While in adolescence one may decide to reject certain values stemming from the particular culture, the effect these values had in the process of development will remain valid. The influence of cultural norms may be broader, as it is in the case of collectivist and individualized nations (Keenan, Evans, & Crowley, 2016, p. 11). Individualized societies stress the importance of individual achievements, fostering the development of competitiveness in a child. In collectivist societies, the approach is opposite, stressing the value of interdependence of its members, and rather frowning upon competitiveness.
Keenan, T., Evans, S., & Crowley, K. (2016). An introduction to child development. London, England: Sage Publications.