The researchers theorize that stems from a tendency in U.S. society to adapt to and focus on the children, rather than teaching children to focus on others. And, Americans tend to encourage children to pay attention to objects more than faces, emphasizing colors and shapes, for instance, over people, says Dr. Ochs. In Samoa, children are expected to be attentive to others from a very young age, and parents stress focusing on facial expressions, says Dr. Ochs.Share
Researchers are also examining how U.S. parents view family life and work. Parents tended to describe a "very prescribed way of being together," says Dr. Kremer-Sadlik.
They commonly used terms like "family night," "family movie," or "family breakfast," and it was understood that the activity was meant to be child-focused time and not include others outside the family. This same vision of "family time" wasn't seen in Italian families, for instance, the researchers found in work published in the journal Time and Society in 2007.
This structured and idealized way of being together appears to pressure parents to achieve these moments and also avoid another instances that might ruin it, like a child's temper tantrum.
"We wanted to highlight to parents that they have a lot of other opportunities for this family time," when they can feel united, supported and connected, says Dr. Kremer-Sadlik. (Read entire post.)