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The Cultural Meaning of Dependency in Children's Personality: An Indigenous Perspective in Pakistani Culture.

Byline: Fatima Imam

The present study explores the cultural meaning of the phenomenon dependency in children's personality as a consequence of parental attitude in Pakistani cultural context. In western culture dependency' in children's personality disposition have negative connotation where it comes as a consequence of parental neglecting behavior. By considering the culture-specific factors the researcher become interested to find whether dependency in children's personality is a cultural desirability and it has different cultural meaning both for parents and children in Pakistan. For measuring parental attitude child PARQ (Rohner et al 1978) and one sub-scale i.e. dependency scale from Child PAQ (Rohner et al 1978) was administered on 100 children. Earlier in the development of the dependency scale 100 children and 100 parents were interviewed through an interview schedule (Imam2013).

The western results showed positive relation between parental neglecting and rejecting behavior with dependency in children's personality whereas indigenous Pakistani results showed negative relation between dependency in children's personality and parental rejection. The results are explained in culture-specific terms.

Key words: Cultural meaning of dependency Children's personality Pakistani Culture


The family is the most important institution and parents are the most significant persons in the lives of their children. Parents show their love in different manner as there exists variation in intensity and frequency of expression of affection that parents shower onto their children. The need for love from parents is an essential factor for normal development of children and its absence is by itself sufficient to produce negative consequences on the normal functioning of children (Rohner 1975; Haque 1987). Acceptance-Rejection theory predicts that parental warmth/affection is universally associated with healthy personality development and the extent to which they receive warmth and acceptance from their parents may have greater impacts for their psychological well-being (Rohner 1999). Matsumoto (2004) reported:"Different parenting dimensions like warmth- control have different meaning in different cultures such as in United States parental control has negative connotation.

Where Korean children perceived control positively associated with warmth and low neglect." LeVine (1977; 1997 cited in Matsumoto 2004 p:135) reported that parenting has many dimensions including goals and beliefs that parents hold for their children. An example would make this assertion more interesting that parents holding similar goals and beliefs in different cultures represent similarities in child rearing pattern. For example Chao (1994) stated that in child-rearing Chinese parenting may be identified by the concept of Chiao Shun meaning training. Research in Pakistan also found training' as most significant element in child-rearing practices (Stewart et al. 1999 cited in Matsumoto 2004).

The data available on the basis of different researches conducted in Pakistan provide a strong support to Parental Acceptance-Rejection Theory (Haque 1987;Riaz 1991; Ansari1996). The results of research conducted in Pakistan indicated perceived parental rejection was negatively related with dependency in children's personality disposition (Imam 2001; Mumtaz and Imam 2008). In an earlier research Imam 2012 made a comparative study of child rearing and socialization among working and non working mothers in Pakistan and found both working and non-working mothers put their efforts to obtain obedience from their children. To obtain obedience parents use sanctions on children in order to be better adjusted in Pakistani culture.

Researches in Turkey showed that in extended families the authority is in the hands of father (Timur1972). The head of family rewarded the compliance quietness submissive and respectful behaviors whereas independent behaviors are punished (Fisek 1982). By the age of six or seven parents' expectation from their children for obedience behavior starts (Ohlson-Prather 1978). The Turkish parents rarely use verbal reasoning and corporal punishment is most frequently used technique (Yorukoglu 1982; Zetinoglu and Kozcu 1987). According to Kagitcibasi (1970) in Turkey love and control go together in parent child interactions where child perceives Parental firm control as parental accepting behavior.

The current research in Turkey is providing a different picture which shows that Turkish parents are changing their values and goals related to their children. Kagitcibasi and Ataca (2005) reported that: there is decrease in the salience of economic and utilitarian value of the child including old age security value and much emphasis is put on the psychological (i.e. emotional) value of children." Further the researchers explained the desirability of Turkish parenting goals and describe that over three decades of socioeconomic development and urbanization there is shift from model of interdependence to one of psychological (emotional) interdependence (Kagitcibasi and Ataca 2005).

Objective of Study

The main purpose of the present research was to see the indigenous angle of the construct dependency' and to find out its cultural meaning both for children and parents in setting parenting goals and in adopting child-rearing practices. The present research was designed: (1) to examine differences in perceived parental attitude and dependency in children's personality disposition and (2) to see the relationship between perceived parental rejection and dependency in children's personality disposition. Method The sample comprises 100 male and female children of classes VII and VIII. After accounting for the incomplete questionnaires and ineligible subjects among 125 participants 100 were selected in which 55 were girls and 45 were boys. The method for the selection of subjects was randomized sampling. The mean age of the subjects was 14.29 for girls and 15.30 for boys. They all belonged to middle class families.


a. Child Parental Acceptance-Rejection Questionnaire The Child PARQ is a 60-item self report measure assessing children's perception of parental warmth/affection (20 items); hostility/ aggression (15items); indifference/neglect (15 items) undifferentiated rejection(10 items).Cronbach's alpha reliability of the scale ranged from 0.72 to 0.90.

b. Personality Assessment Questionnaire

Dependency in children's personality was measured by one of the sub-scale (i.e Dependency scale) of Child PAQ developed by Rohner Saavedra and Granum 1978. The median alpha of the scale is 0.63.


The questionnaires Child PARQ and one sub-scale from Child PAQ (i.e. dependency scale) along with family data sheet were administered to male and female children in their regular classes. Consent was taken from administration of school. The questionnaires were administered in a group of 25 students in each class.

Results and Discussion


###Means Standard Deviation and t-values for Child PARQ Scores of male and

###female children in Pakistan






###Total Child PARQ###97.22###8.05###98.44###5.87###1.09###NS


Table 1 is showing means SD and t-values of male and female children's scores on Child PARQ. It is clear from results that both male and female children are receiving warmth and affection from their parents (i.e. absence of parental rejection) and there exist no differences in perception of children towards parental attitude on gender basis. The result of present study is confirming the previous Pakistani researches where children are receiving warmth and affection from their parents (Imam 2001; Mumtaz and Imam 2008; Haque 1987 Riaz 1991).



###Table showing means SD and t-values on Dependency scale for male and female



D Child PAQ






###Dependency Scale###16.46###2.85###17.84###3.28###1.87###NS



Table 2 is showing dependency scores of male and female children. It is very clear that both the male and female children's scores lie within range of dependency. Here a question may be raised in order to understand the cultural meaning of the concept dependency' indigenously. A very simple and logical question arises here that while Pakistani children are receiving warmth approval and acceptance from their parents why their scores on personality scale is showing dependency in their personality organization The answer may be traced under cultural meaning of dependency construct which seems desirability of Pakistani cultural context. Rohner (1980) reported that when perceived acceptance increases children reported being more dependent. Present results may be explained by possible explanation given by Martin 1975 which explains that rewarded dependent behavior tends to increase dependency.


Table is showing correlation between Parental Rejection scores with Dependency

in children's personality


Respondents' Scores###r



Table 3 is showing negative correlation between parental rejection scores and dependency scores indicating a cultural picture of the relationship. Child rearing and socialization practices generally refer to all the interactions that take place between parents and their children. Thus the process could be understandable with reference to a specific cultural context because the kind of parenting goals adopted by parents in child-rearing practices are usually those which is consistent with the existing norms in that society. It is important to consider family structure and child-rearing practices and cultural desirability in Pakistan to fully understand the relation between perceived parental rejection and dependency in children's personality organization. In a study conducted in another eastern collectivist society (Turkey) Kagitcibasi (1982) found to obey their parents' as most desired and to be independent and self-reliant' as least desired characteristics in VOC study.

During the development of dependency scale the researcher interviewed 100 children and 100 parents. The results showed dependency as desirability in Pakistani cultural context where 78% children want to be dependent on their parents whereas 82 % parents consider dependency as parenting goal that they want to provide support and guidance at every step of their children's lives (Imam 2013).

ConclusionCultural factors play significant role while considering meaning of the concepts. Many psychological concepts may be considered as indigenous part of the western world. Establishing external validity and worldwide confirming cases provides a corrective role for the researcher's ethnocentrism because considering cultural basis of various concepts enables investigator to realize the cultural meaning of their own beliefs. A contextual approach provides precious meaning to understand behavior. As Hoffman (1977) stated Parents rear their children so as to encourage the development of those qualities and attitudes that will suit them for their expected adult roles". As in Pakistan also the expected adult role for children is to look after their parents in old age and to invest all their emotional and material resources for the well being of their parents so there is a possibility that it is for this reason that parents want to inculcate dependency in their children.

Another possible reason may be considered culturally that due to absence of improved social system in Pakistan for older adults such as old age allowances social security benefits and life/health insurance for elderly persons it is desirable to continue close family ties and psychological interdependencies among parents and their children.


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Publication:New Horizons
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Jun 30, 2014
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