Parenting norms

Arabic family

In traditional Arab culture, infants and younger children will spend most of their time with their mothers, grandmothers and aunts, who are responsible for their care and discipline. Older brothers, sisters and cousins are also expected to help with caring for and playing with younger children. This experience is compromised for migrant/refugee families who may not have support networks that would have previously assisted in raising children.

Additionally, traditional understandings of responsible parenting may not be as valued in the new society. Generally, parents of Arabic speaking backgrounds consider it their responsibility to provide their children with financial, material, social and emotional resources; often parents will sacrifice their own needs in the pursuit of their children’s success. This notion of responsible parenting may not be consistent with Australian notions of responsible parenting which focuses on children’s autonomous development and self-sufficiency.

Furthermore, challenges arise for parents as a result of poor understandings of appropriate discipline measures in Australia. Measures of physical discipline are often the norm in traditional Arabic families – just as they were in Australia 30 years ago. With regards to physical discipline, many parents do not understand the Australian legal system, expectations, and alternatives to physical discipline as ways of teaching their children. Additional support and parenting programs are required for families of Arabic speaking backgrounds.