NORMS OF THE CULTURE.
From the moment of birth, the child is treated in ways which shape the personality. Each culture provides a set of general influences, which vary endlessly from society to society. As Lirton writes,
In some [societies) infants are given the breast whenever they cry for it. In others they are fed on it regular schedule. In some they will be nursed by any woman who happens to be at hand, In others only by their mothers. In some the process of nursing is a leisurely one, acorn pained by many caresses and a maximum of sensuous enjoyment for both mother and child. In others it is hurried and’ perfunctory, the mother regarding it as an interruption of her regular activities and urging the child to finish as rap’idly as possible. Some wean Infants Turning the more direct effects of culture patterns upon the developing individual, we have an almost infinite range of variations in ted agree to which he Is consciously trained, discipline or the lack of it and responsibilities imposed upon him. may ta c ‘he child hand almost f om in rarely train him for his duly permit him to run wild until the age of puberty. He may receive corporal punishment for even the smallest offend or never be punished at . As a child he may have a dam upon the time and attention’ of all adult. with whom he comes in contact or, con tersely, all tuts may have a claim upon his services, He may be put to work and treated as a responsible contributing member of the family group almost from the moment filth he j, able to walk and have it constantly upon him that life is real and earnest. Thus in some Madagascar tribes children not only begin to work at an incredibly early age but also enjoy full property rights. I frequently bargained with child of ix for some object which I needed for my collection; although its parents might advise, they would not interfere On the other hand, the children in a Marquesas village do not work and accept no responsibility. 1 hey form a distinct and closely integrated social. unit which has few dealings with adults. The boys and girls below the age of puberty are constantly together and often do not go home .even to eat or sleep. They go off on all-day expeditions, for which no parental permission is required, catch fish and raid plantations for food, and spend the night in any house they happen to be near at sunset.
Examples of such cultural differences in the treatment of children could be multiplied indefinitely. The important point is that every culture’ exerts a series of general influences upon the individuals who grow up under it. These influences differ from one culture to another, but they provide a common denominator of experience for all persons belonging to a given society. (Ralph Linton, The Study of Mach I C 1936, renewed 1964. Reprinted by permission of Prentice- Hall, Inc., Inglewood Cliffs, N.J.)heavily upon the theories of Freud, has attached great importance to specific child training practices. Breast feeding, gradual weaning, demand-feeding schedules, and a relaxed induction to bowel and bladder training have often-been recommended, with the opposite practices being blamed for all sorts of personality difficulties. These recommendations are generally unsupported by any
carefully controlled comparative studies, although dramatic case histories may be cited in, illustration, One serious effort [Se well, ,’1952 J, to test these recommendations made a comparison of American children who had received differing training practices. Understudy found that no measurable adult personality differences were associated with any particular child-training practices. Studies of personality development in other cultures have likewise failed to substantiate Freudian theories of the r suits of specific child-training practices [Eggan, 1943; Dai, 1957]. Apparent, it rs the total atmosphere, and not the specific practice, which is important in personality development. Whether a child is breast-fed or fed is unimportant; what is important I whether this feeding is a tel red, affectionate moment in a warmly secure world, or a hurried, casual incident in an impersonal, unfeeling, responding environment.