Why do western culture prefer their children to stay alone at early ages while eastern culture prefer thier children to stay along with the family?I've heard that the a child above 16 years of age...

Why do western culture prefer their children to stay alone at early ages while eastern culture prefer thier children to stay along with the family?

I've heard that the a child above 16 years of age is seen to be wierd if he is not independent from family in England...Is it so?

While in India family prefer to stay together through out the lifetime.

Asked on by shrinath

7 Answers | Add Yours

stolperia's profile pic

stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I definitely think some of the valuing of individualism found in the US is derived from our history. Unless your ancestors were Native Americans or slaves, you are descended from individuals who probably chose to leave their families for a new place in order to build a new existence for themselves.

I don't think western cultures "prefer" to leave young children alone, but I do think it is a part of our culture to support the development of self-discipline and self-reliance within our children. For better or worse, there is not as much emphasis on the need to maintain the family group as the central point of identification when answering "who am I?".

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Perhaps there is yet some of the frontiersman thinking left in this country.  Many of the explorers and early forntiersmen had to be independent or they would have never ventured West and established new communities.  So often a culture is tied to its geography....

In the United States, part of the American Dream was to make on one's own and be a success.  That was not to say that people forgot about their families, but in order to discover new copper mines, or in order to become the governor of a new territory, one had to leave the nest.

amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I don't know that any culture is ALL one way or another...this is where stereotypes begin, and none of them are wholly true.  There are plenty of families in western cultures who do not "grow out" of being connected to extended family for the majority of their lives.  Lately, with the economy the way it is, families have been more likely to move back in with parents and grandparents, thus having several generations under one roof.

Some parents in western cultures find it unavoidable to leave children alone at home (especially in the summer when children are out of school and both parents are still working) for periods of time.  This fosters independence at an earlier age, and I think the whole idea or craving for independence is just a cultural difference.  If you don't know any different, you don't miss it.  In India, if you and all of your friends are accustomed to living with your parents and extended family well into your old age, then you wouldn't crave anything else, and it may make it difficult for you to understand something different from your accepted way of doing things.

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I don't think this is necessarily true. Although western cultures do stress individuality, many of our children to stay with the family well into their 20s. Part of the reason for this is the economy. Until the current economic downturn, many teenagers did leave home, go to college, move out and go on their own once they graduated from high school. Now some still go to college, but they often move back in with their parents when they are finished. This is usually because it is difficult for them to find a job that will give them the standard of living they want. There are exceptions of course.
herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

It is all a matter of culture and no behavior is wrong. Spanish people, then, are no different than Indians from what I can see in the first post. We love keeping our children as close as we can. I am the mother of a boy, myself, and I cannot imagine him being 100% independent from me. Not that I encourage a lazy dude living off me in my attic, but I know that it would not be a problem for me to keep him living with me as long as he has a job and pays his bills on time. Other than that, I feel that men will develop depending on their relationship to their mothers. That is just a matter of opinion. My boyfriend is from England and he also felt the way the English people do about independence. However, he is no different than guys I have met. This being said, it is the quality of the family relationship and not social expectations, what build the person.

lorrainecaplan's profile pic

Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I think that pohnpei397 has a good point about the individualist nature of western culture, and that is something that I would like to expand upon.  I am not completely informed on all western cultures and those of other areas, but generally, what I observe is that western cultures do value and encourage individualism in a way that other cultures do not.  There are many eastern cultures in which the needs of the larger group are placed before those of the individual, for example, the needs of the family, the needs of the local community, the needs of the workplace, and even the needs of the entire country.  In order to socialize children in the needs of the particular culture, behaviors and customs have developed to encourage individualism or to encourage more community-oriented behavior.  One example of this is where children sleep.  I have noticed that in western cultures, children generally sleep in their own beds, frequently from the time they are born, while in many other cultures, children routinely sleep in their parents' bed or even with siblings.  There are countless examples of the ways western countries cultivate the individualism of their children and countless examples of ways in which other cultures cultivate the community norm.  I think it is a dreadful mistake to judge either way of doing things, and in fact, for those of us in the individualist western countries, it is my belief that we all could learn a little about why the whole might be more important than the individual.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I can only speak for attitudes in the United States, but I believe they are similar to attitudes in England.

I think that you are misunderstanding the idea of independence.  When we talk about wanting our children to be independent, we do not mean that they should actually live apart from us and have no contact with us.  Instead, we mean that they should be able to make their own decisions (though we would not let them make all their own decisions at age 16 for sure) in a mature and adult way.  We want them to love us and to continue to have contact with us, but we do not want them to depend on us.

Western culture may be more individualistic than that of India, but I do not think we go as far as your question seems to suggest.

We’ve answered 318,994 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question