Middle-Class Indian Immigrants and Transcultural Parenting

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 08:45
Oral Presentation
Pallavi BANERJEE, University of Calgary, Canada
In this paper, I examine if and to what extent might Annette Lareau’s theory of middle-class parenting - namely concerted cultivation – works in the context of Indian immigrant families where one parent holds a professional job in the US and the other spouse is highly-qualified but is dependent and stays at home due to visa restrictions. Lareau (2003, 2011) proffers two distinct parenting styles – concerted cultivation, as the kind of parenting done by black and white middle-class parents and the accomplishment of natural growth, as the parenting path enacted by working class parents. Here I explore if dependent visa laws that prohibit one parent from working influence parenting in these middle-class families or do they simply engage in concerted cultivation. The data for this paper is based on interviews with both parents in 40 families (total of 80 parents) in the United States, where the breadwinner is a highly skilled male immigrant worker with a dependent wife and in families where the breadwinner is a highly skilled immigrant female worker with a dependent husband. In my findings, I unpack the parenting styles in these middle-class immigrant homes using Lareau’s lens. What I find is that Lareau’s theories don’t completely explain parenting styles in these families. The parenting done by my participants lie squarely between Lareau’s concerted cultivation and accomplishment of natural growth due to the immigrant parents’ evocation of transnational and transcultural parenting norms. Additionally, the particular parenting activities undertaken by the dependent mothers and the dependent fathers are gendered in nature but, both the mothers and the fathers spent equal amount of time parenting their children. The parenting goal is to provide what they thought were the best of the (East) Indian and American cultural and child-developmental practices. I call this form of parenting “transcultural cultivation.”