Bhugun (2017) carried out a research aiming to understand
how couples from dissimilar cultural background manage their differences in
educating their children. Previous studies revealed that the number of
intercultural couples has risen in Australia due to several factors including
the increase of incomers (Owen 2002, cited in Bhugun, D. 2017). Also, differences
in principles, practices, beliefs, behaviours and language barriers only become
a problem when these couples start having children (Romano 2001, cited in
Bhugun, D. 2017). According to Bradford, Burns Vaughn and Barker (2007, cited
in Bhugun, D. 2017), disagreements in parental ideals can affect children’s
psychological wellbeing. Romano (2001, cited in Bhugun, D. 2017) proposed four
solutions to overcome the challenges faced by intercultural parents. He said
that foreigner parents could conform to culture of the country where they live,
or both parents could make concessions on some of their beliefs and practices.
He added that the couple could either put their cultures aside and adopt one
not theirs or keep vital aspects of both cultures and show mutual acceptance.
A qualitative and social constructionist approach was
preferred for this study as it helps to obtain detailed illustrations of
participants’ experiences. 14 couples from various cultures and socioeconomic
status, all from South east Queensland took part to the investigation.
Participants were found via a renowned local radio station and newspaper, an
online publication, a list of contacts from community workshop and via snowball
method. They were aged between 28 and 67 years, being in civil partnership for
4 to 25 years, with 1 to 4 children, from 6months to 18years of age.
Participants were Anglo-Australian, African, Asian, Indian, Arabic, Muslim, New
Zealander and Pacific Islanders.
Couples had to meet some requirements to take part this
study. One partner was to be an Anglo-Australian and the other from different ethnicity,
race, and faith. Conditions included being educated and fluent in English,
being heterosexual, being married or living in the same house, and bringing up a
child under 23 years. Also, interviews were to be made in presence of both
Fourteen semi-structured in-depth interviews were carried
out. Participants decided of where and when interviews took place. With their approval, these were audio taped
and between 1 and 1hour 30 minutes long. However, to obtain validation, the
research proposal was sent to the University of Queensland and Southern Cross
University Human Research Ethics Committee, before information were gathered.
Methodological rigor and trustworthiness were assessed with the following
guiding principles: credibility, transferability, dependability and
Results disclosed the areas of disagreements between
intercultural couples and how they handle those. It was discovered that
emigrant parents disapprove of the parenting style commonly used in Australia
and prefer the authoritarian style. In addition, they were reluctant in letting
their babies sleep in a different room. Breastfeeding and herbal medicine also
caused conflict; a participant wanted his children to be fed with breastmilk
only and another wanted his child to be washed in some traditional herbs as it
is done in his home town. Australian parents valued building relationships with
their children by trusting them to behave well when with friends, while some
incomers emphasized on the importance of avoiding fornication. Communication
was one of the most common problem faced by intercultural couples both on the
aspects of language differences and in interactions with children. Other points
of great frictions were in attributing children’s home duties according to
their gender differences and defining the relation to keep with extended
family. Intercultural couples highlighted the benefits of having the extended
family around. However, it was also pointed out that these relatives could
encourage children’s misbehaviour.
According to findings, the desire participants had to enjoy
their experience as parents acted as a source of motivation in finding ways to
minimise or if possible avoid dissensions. Intercultural couples found
discussing all issues quietly and away from children to be a good way of
solving all problem. They suggested that couples discuss their preferences and
differences before stepping into marriage. Making concessions and allowing the
partner to be in charge of what they are best at were presented as useful. In
addition, respect, flexibility, tolerance and immersion were determining factors
of the outcome of intercultural relationships and parenting. However, in some
cases, renouncing to their culture was the best way to calm the situation
because of the partner’s authority.
This investigation draws attention to that couples from same
cultures and those from different ones face similar difficulties. Nevertheless,
dissimilitude in origins and values increase the hardship of intercultural
couples. The main way to resolve their conflict was to have a conversation from
which will emanate decisions, keeping children’s best interest as priority.
This research’s sample size does not allow results to be
considered as universal, yet it would be valid in other countries due to the
detailed explanations provided by participants. Findings could benefit
therapists and upcoming studies. It was found that factors such as self-image
and social environment had negative effects on intercultural parents. However,
(2017). Intercultural parenting in australia: Managing cultural differences.
The Family Journal, 25(2), 187-195. doi:10.1177/1066480717697688