CHILD-REARING: A SOCIAL-CONTEXTUAL APPROACH

Biran Mertan Eastern Mediterranean University Northern Cyprus
XIIth Eurapean Conference on Developmental Psychology University of La Laguna, 24-28 August 2005

CHILD-REARING: SOCIAL-CONTEXTUAL APPROACH Biran Mertan Eastern Mediterranean University
The role of parents’ knowledge and skills regarding child rearing, has been studied for many years in the Western Industrialized countries. In North Cyprus such studies are new (Mertan, 2003). In this current research the following questions will be explored. Does parents’ knowledge and skills regarding child rearing influence child development? How do factors outside the home influence this early development (e.g. cultural values, socio-economic status, maternal work, social networks, relatives, friends, neighbors, experts, etc…)? How does maternal anxiety influence early development? The participants were mothers of 150 children whose ages varied between 12-62 months with a mean of 40;8 and a Standard deviation of 12;4 months. Mothers were selected and recruited by using the snowball technique. The mothers were given the selfadministered questionnaire comprised of demographic information, child rearing practices, living arrangements, social environment and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. The results will be discussed in terms of their theoretical and practical implications.

Overview
Studies on child rearing practices and non-parental care mainly from the Western industrialized countries.

Outcome
Maternal employement... Non-parental child care... Poor quality of day care center... Poor quality of family day care... Attachment profile of the child... The age at which non-parental care starts... The time spent per week in non-parental care...

Non-parental care
Andersson (1989; 1992; 2003) Belsky (1988; 2001; 2003) Balleyguier & Melhuish(1995; 1996) Howes (1999) Lamb (1998; 1998) Pierrehumbert et al (1992; 2002) Rosenthal (1999) …

Popularized Hypotheses
Early experience has long-lasting effects that are nearly impossible to overcome. Quality of non-parental care was the most influential variable of social development.

How about other societies?
Like elsewhere, in North Cyprus, the effect of maternal employment on child development is becoming an intriguing question.

Background The Turkish Cypriot Women’s position
27.1 % of women have paid employment Employed women have the right of paid maternal leave (40 days before the delivery and 40 days after the birth). In addition to this maternal leave, employed mothers are given the right of breast feeding leave for two hours per day during the first six months after giving birth.

The goal of the present study is twofold:
to establish whether the Turkish Cypriot family environment encourages different child care practices. to explore whether maternal employment status, familial support, and the mother's related behavior towards the child influences the child's development in a Turkish Cypriot sample .

Questions
Does familial support play a role in parenting and to what extent? Does maternal employement status influence different aspects of early child development? How does maternal anxiety influence different aspects of early child development?

Participants
The participants were mothers of 62 toddlers whose ages varied between 12 and 62 months with a mean of 40.04 and a standard deviation of 10.57 months. The average age of mothers was 29.41 ranging from 20 to 42 years (SD = 4.25). The average age for fathers was 33.90 ranging from 26 to 47 years (SD = 4.67).

Demographic Information
Mothers of the employed mothers’ group have significantly higher formal schooling than the mothers at home group. However for fathers, education does not differ according to mothers employement status. Mothers at home had their marriages at a significantly younger age than the employed mothers’ group. All children were born to term without serious medical complications, and families were twoparent traditional nuclear in types.

The critical variables the employment status of the mother the daily social interaction with grandparents the stability of the child care the anxiety level of the mother

Test Instrument
The questionnaire was comprised of three sections:
The demographic information section, The “Baby’s Day Test” (Le test de la journée de bébé, Balleyguier, 1979), which was previously adapted for the Turkish Cypriot sample, The STAI-The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory Section.

In the demographic section mothers were required to respond to items related to age, education, working status, living arrangements, childcare practices and so forth.

Baby's Day Test
The test has environmental scales and child scales:

Environmental Scale is composed of
13 subscales measuring mothers', fathers’ and sibling’s behavior toward the child.

Child Scale consists of 31 subscales
that measure child's reactions toward parents and siblings. The items sample daily activities of the family.

The present study A partial replication of Balleyguier’s (1979) study was employed. In the present research 7 of the environmental subscales and 6 of the child subscales were selected. Each subscale in both scales has a set of items varying between 5 and 19.

Mother-child relation Environmental Scale
Environmental scale score measuring mothers' behavior toward the child.

Scales MA Mother’s Affection MR Mother's Rigidity ME Education Given by Mother Max Mother’s Anxiety MF Mother’s Sensitivity RL Bond Weakening MP Toilet Training by Mother

Number of items 5 9 8 5 7 7 7

Cronbach Alpha .75 .61 .53 .69 .64 .45 .70

Example “I feed his/her meal on my lap.” “I insist on him/her finishing his meal." “I prevent him/her from eating with his fingers.” “When he/she has a fever, I immediately call a doctor.” “As soon as he/she calls for me, I go to him/her.” “I leave him/her alone to play in his/her room.” “ I put him/her on potty three times a day.”

Parent-child relation Child Scale
Child scale score measuring child's reactions toward his/her mother

Scales AM Affect towards Mother IM Imitation of Mother AgM Aggression towards Mother SM Submission to Mother Pr Toilet Training A Autonomy

Number of items 7 8 10 13 5 19

Cronbach Alpha .65 .84 .82 .75 .85 .88

Example “He/she shows pleasure when I arrive.” “He/she vocalises back when I talk to him/her.” “He/she bites me.” “He/she eats when I insist.” “He/she is dry and clean during day time.” “He/she washes his/her hands without help.”

State Trait Anxiety Inventory STAI
The State Anxiety Scale (Spielberger, 1970) was translated and validated in Turkish by Öner & Le Compte (1980). STAI consists of 20 statements that evaluate how respondants feel “right now, at this moment” The Trait Anxiety Scale consists of 20 statements that asses how individuals feel “generally” and was used in the current study.

Mothers were selected and recruited by using the snowball technique. Two meetings with mothers were scheduled approximately within a week after the initial meeting. After a brief overview of the study the mothers were initially given the selfadministered part of the Baby’s Test with 139 structured questions and the STAI Inventory. These parts could be completed at the mothers’ convenience.

Procedure
Baby’s Day Test

Results and Discussion
To address the first question raised in the current study, that is to explore whether the Turkish Cypriot family environment encourages differential childcare practices, data were submitted to the following analyses:

Results and Discussion contd
In the first instance the profile of the sample in relation to the daily social interaction with grandparents indicated that there is no significant difference in relation to mothers’ employment status. Regardless as to whether mothers’ were employed or not, on a daily basis they have social interaction with their own parents such as having a meal together, bring/taking back the child (44.1 % of mothers at home and 55.9 % employed mothers group respectively).

Residence
Young Turkish Cypriot parents prefer to live in a house with a garden (52.4%) rather than in an apartment. Among these young parents, the choice of living in the same building as the close relatives i.e. parents, sisters, brothers is 32.3 %.
TURKISH CYPRIOT FAMILY STRUCTURE MODEL

E. FAMILY AUNT UNCLE GRANDPARENTS

The subscale scores were subjected to separate tests according to the stability of child care, mother`s employment status, and mother`s trait anxiety.

Distribution of children according to care and maternal employement status (%)
n
Familial Care Non-Familial Care Mothers at home 69.2 36.1 Employed mothers 30.8 63.9

26 36

Distribution of children according to care and maternal employement status during the first two years of life (%)

n Familial Care Non-Familial Care 53 9

Mothers at home 90.3 9.7

Employed mothers 80.6 19.7

The Results Showed That... A majority of children (58.1%) who had early familial care were currently in non-familial care practices (χ2 = 6.62, p <.01). In the mothers at home group, mothers were the principal care providers (69.2%), In the employed mothers group, 55.8% were cared by grandmothers, 36.6 % were provided care in a mixed style (day care centers, a relative, grandmother ...) and 7.7 % were cared by caregivers.

An Emerging Concept: Stability of child care
It appears that caring for the first 24 months of the child is consistently within the family shared with the mother. While in some families this trend is continued upto the 5th year of life a new trend is also emerging where the child’s care moves to a non-familial setting. The stability of child care is defined as the continuity of care shared by mother and grandmother during the first two years of life. t-tests were computed on the subscale scores according to the different mode of child care. The mean subscale scores and the computed t-values are given in the following tables.

Comparison of child scales according to stability of child care
Scales AM Affect towards Mother IM Imitation of Mother AgM Aggression towards Mother SM Submission to Mother Pr Toilet Training A Autonomy Familial Care 2.13 1.54 .77 1.71 2.05 1.87 NonFamilial Care 2.23 1.80 .86 1.87 2.54 2.24 t .65 1.47 .57 1.29 2.16 2.54 p NS NS NS NS p<.03 p<.01

Results
As can be seen from the table, only two of the six scales reached statistical significance related with the differences between mean for the contuinity of familial care and non-familial care. The two scales that showed significant difference was child’s autonomy and acquisition of toilet training. Children entirely brought up in their family are less autonomous and less toilet trained than those in non-familial care setting.

Comparison of environmental subscales according to stability of child care
Scales MA Mother’s Affection MR Mother's Rigidity ME Education Given by Mother Max Mother’s Anxiety MF Mother’s Sensitivity RL Bond Weakening MP Toilet Training by Mother Familial Care 2.02 1.18 1.58 1.40 2.02 1.35 .85 NonFamilial Care 2.42 1.18 1.55 1.84 2.22 1.61 .71 t 2.89 .04 .21 2.19 1.57 1.66 .85 p p<.005 NS NS p<.03 NS NS NS

Results
Mothers who left their child to the nonfamily care showed more affection towards the child. However these mothers were also more anxious than those in the stable family care group.

In order to determine if full time mothers and employed mothers differ in their responses towards their children and the reactions they received, t-tests were computed on the subscale scores. The mean subscale scores and the computed t-values are given in the following tables.

Comparison of child scales according to the maternal employment status
Scales AM Affect towards Mother IM Imitation of Mother AgM Aggression towards Mother SM Submission to Mother Pr Toilet Training A Autonomy
Employed mothers Mothers at home

t 0 2.06 .53 .09 .86 .90

p NS p<.04 NS NS NS NS

2.19 1.87 .78 1.80 2.44 2.15

2.19 1.52 .86 1.81 2.23 2.02

Results
The only scale that showed a statistical significance was the imitation of the mother. Employed mothers group children imitate their mother sigificantly more than their peers in the full time mothers group.

Comparison of environmental scales according to the maternal employment status
Scales MA Mother’s Affection MR Mother's Rigidity ME Education Given by Mother Max Mother’s Anxiety MF Mother’s Sensitivity RL Bond Weakening MP Toilet Training by Mother
Employed mothers Mothers at home

t 2.39 2.55 1.76 1.71 1.94 .33 1.61

p p<.02 p<.01 NS NS p<.05 NS NS

2.42 1.01 1.45 1.83 2.26 1.52 .63

2.09 1.35 1.68 1.49 2.01 1.47 .90

Results
As in the stability of day care comparison the mother’s affection showed significant differences according to maternal employement status. Employed mothers were significantly more affectinate than mothers at home. Mothers at home were more rigid in child rearing practices, while employed mothers were more anxious about the development of their children.

Results
Overall mothers at home showed higher anxiety levels than working mothers. However, further analyses did not reveal an influence of mother’s anxiety on child development.

Conclusion
The findings of the present research show that The Turkish Cypriot families with vast preference to family care indeed organize different childcare practice compared to industrialised societies in the West .
Familial Care evidently plays a significant role on child’s autonomous behavior and the acquisition of toilet training.

Conclusion
Children whose mothers were employed showed higher imitative behavior than children whose mothers were at home. Contarary to the higher level of rigidity reported by the mothers at home, the employed mothers were more sensitive to the needs and showed more affection to their children. Contatry to expection, mothers at home were more anxious than mothers in employment.

Finally…
To what extent does child rearing practices are influenced by social and contextual variables? At least for the Turkish Cypriot sample the claim here is that continous and stable familial support enhances child’s development.

Turkish Cypriot Family Structure

The interpretation of the present findings requires great care to be considered due to the relatively small sample size.

Thank you!