Free website translation

Research in Germany

Parenting in immigrant Families

"Often, Muslim parents in particular consider the full assimilation of their children into German culture as their biggest worry. They fear a complete cultural and religious alienation and try, for example, to counter this 'danger' with an intense education in religious values. It is important to contribute here, that though the process of growing up in liberal societies can bear certain developmental risks for children (against which risks such parents try to protect their children through firm and strong religious education), a tight religious group may lower certain risks (abuse of drugs and alcohol, traumatic experiencing of parental divorce, etc.) yet raise the probability of other risks (such as rigid personality development and narrow thought autonomy).

Culture Gaps

A Turkish mother was under the impression that mothers who spoke privately with the kindergarten teacher in 'the doorway', so during the bring- and pick-up situation, were private friends of the teacher's, and thus she would never have expected to enter into such a communication. [View source]

Schlösser, Elke´Händeschütteln und andere Stolpersteine: Erziehungspartnerschaft mit Zuwandererfamilien´ frühe Kindheit 05 09p. 32

"The path to less isolation is often encouraged within the political debate via better integration of German day care and schools. There is an assumption that migrant parents' conclusions about 'the typical German way of child-rearing' are often distorted; that they mistakenly misinterpret the German emphasis on raising children to be independent at a young age as 'cold and uncompassionate' and that this rather encourages non-German parents to 'frantically' hold on to their own sometimes partly-dysfunctional traditions. Integrated school situations are supposed to help. [View source]

Uslucan, Haci-Halil, "Vielfalt der Werte - Vielfalt der Erziehungsstile," fruehe Kindheit, 05 09, p.16

"Yet, integration is emotionally complex at street-level. For example, before a private interview, a German female kindergarten teacher holds out her hand to greet a Turkish father, who does not take her hand. Even though an outsider's explanation might be that in his culture politeness means not shaking a married woman´s hand, it is not easy to 'train' teachers in cultural empathy. The author suggests saying, "Did you not notice, I just wanted to shake your hand and you did not take it. That felt a bit odd, because as a child I have learned that it is polite to offer my hand when greeting someone. Maybe, as a child you have learned something entirely different that feels natural to you?" [View source]

Schlösser, Elke, ´Händeschütteln und andere Stolpersteine´ frühe Kindheit, 05 09 p.31.

But, in this situation a polite 'overlooking' of the awkward interaction might have been more helpful and more culturally astute.

The question immediately arises, why are immigrants so afraid for their children? Why is the US-European lifestyle in 2011 something to fear rather than to emulate?

A Russian-speaking mother also felt to address the kindergarten teacher in such a situation would have been disrespectful.  From her perspective, a state or religious institution by definition assumes responsibility for the child 'from the doorway', and therefore forces her into trusting the institution. To give her own child away like that in a strange country was a demonstration of respect that required a lot of courage. And probably was not seen as such by the teacher. [View source]

Schlösser, Elke´Händeschütteln und andere Stolpersteine: Erziehungspartnerschaft mit Zuwandererfamilien´ frühe Kindheit 05 09p. 32

The author writes that teachers who are not aware of cultural differences may jump to the conclusion that these parents have no "real" interest in their children's education, or even that the parents' 'strange' behavior shows they don't want to integrate.

Teachers often have very little knowledge of the psychological and familial strains of the migration experience. Reflecting what they read or hear in the public debate about immigration, they expect a rather quick "integration" from the parents and children and they experience cultural difference regarding lifestyles and world views as an imposition. [View source]

Spohn, Cornelia, "Die Bedeutung von Supervision für Erzieher(innen) in einem interkulturellen Feld," frühe Kindheit, 05 09, p.36

Another example: Hamid's mother always brings him too late to day care, disturbing the punctual ritual of the morning circle. It turns out that his mother had a university degree in Morocco, but had to work as a cleaning woman in Germany and, not wanting to shame her son, was reluctant to tell the kindergarten teacher in public the reason for her lateness. She was simply unable to bring him on time because she worked from 5 to 9 in the mornings and his father had to be at work punctually so before 9.30 she just couldn't be there. Although she spoke good German, she was unable to find another kind of job. She found this shameful and became insecure in contact with German institutions, even the kindergarten. In supervision, the kindergarten teacher complained "foreign parents just don't have the same appreciation for punctuality. She said the mother hadn't "arrived" in Germany yet and was clearly not interested in cooperation with the kindergarten, "ihr sei "alles egal"" (she doesn't give a whit). [View source]

Spohn, Cornelia, "Die Bedeutung von Supervision für Erzieher(innen) in einem interkulturellen Feld," frühe Kindheit, 05 09, p.34.

Added to that is the complexity that not all difference in behaviors can be explained along simple cultural lines. Though ethnic affiliation, religion, and migration experience do in fact play a major role, they are not necessarily more important than the child or parent's immediate social and psychological environment. Families are often burdened by multiple factors: unemployment, crowded living conditions, experience of discrimination and legal impediments.

Children with 'migration' backgrounds are also burdened by a 'deficit effect' in public opinion. For example, in reference to their language development, the focus is on these children's limited German abilities rather than on their obvious bilingualism.

Such children are familiar with an inner awareness- and translation-pendulum swinging between different cultural contexts. That is for them normal. In our ever more globalized world, this is an ability that will provide these children in their future with high versatility. But this is often not acknowledged in the public realm.

Return to Europe Research


Interested in more? Here are other articles:
Russia Middle East
language Islam
immigrant life Germany
expatriate life Turkey

© 2017 Motherlands