Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


Date of this Version

Summer 7-26-2013


Blitch, K. (2013). The role of the parent in fostering cultural awareness. Thesis, Department of Child, Youth, and Family Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Under the Supervision of Professor Helen Raikes. Lincoln, Nebraska: June, 2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Kimberly A. Blitch


Past research indicates that the cultural constructs of race and ethnicity are socialized and that that socialization process begins in early childhood. This qualitative case study sought to learn more about the parental role in fostering children’s cultural awareness as well as parents’ collaboration experiences with childcare providers with regard to the fostering process.

Five parents of children (ages two-to-five years) from an ethnically and racially diverse preschool were participants. Participant interviews were conducted and The Scale of Ethnocultural Empathy (SEE) and The Parent-Teacher Relationship Scale (PTRS) measure were administered. A three-tiered coding system was used to analyze text data. Descriptive statistics were calculated and a mean split was used to create “High” and “Low” categories. Qualitative data was then compared using quantitative categories.

Results were that parents formed either racial or ethnic identities that were related to the meanings conveyed in race and ethnicity explorations and interactions with their children. Racially-identified parents emphasized racial similarities and differences to their children whereas ethnically-identified parents conveyed ethnic information such as family ancestry and immigration. Parental dialogue, or cultural talk, was the crux of race and ethnicity explorations. All participants conveyed race and ethnicity meanings in a developmentally-appropriate manner.

There was little formal collaboration between parents and their childcare providers as it related to fostering cultural awareness. However, it was learned that parents view themselves as primarily responsible for teaching their child about race and ethnicity and teachers as supplemental figures. Quantitative data provided additional insight by demonstrating that the sample was most apt at accepting others’ differences but were least able to engage in perspective-taking with others of racial and/or ethnic diversity. Ethnically-diverse and racially-diverse parents reported high quality and low quality relationships, respectively, with teachers.

Results of this study suggest that racially-identified and ethnically-identified parents construct and convey culture differently to their children. Furthermore, their experiences with providers seemed to differ as well. Results are useful to those working with families and diverse children, especially teachers.

Adviser: Helen Raikes

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