Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of


Date of this Version

January 2003


Published in International Journal of Behavioral Development 2003, 27 (6), 481–494. Copyright © 2003 The International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development.


Parents, preschools, and schools in different cultures vary greatly in the extent to which children are encouraged to develop long-term relationships with people outside the family circle—peers and teachers. In contemporary societies, parents face complex choices as they bridge children’s transitions to a wider world. This exploratory cross-cultural study used a newly developed questionnaire, Parental Concerns for Preschool Children Survey, to assess parental beliefs, values, and judgments. The sample included 521 parents from four cities: Oslo, Norway; Lincoln (Nebraska), United States; Ankara, Turkey; Seoul, Korea. Strong cultural community differences were found in parental descriptions of their own child’s friendships and beliefs about the needs of young children in general for close and continuing relationships in preschool and primary. The findings suggest the following conclusions, for example: Oslo parents favored the value of long-term continuity with peers and teachers; Lincoln parents had a more academic than relational focus to school and wanted their children to deal successfully with (new) teachers in different settings; Ankara parents (an upwardly mobile sample) were low in reporting their child’s friendships at preschool but valued parent–teacher and child–child relationships there; Seoul parents (oriented to education as a means to economic success) favored their children having quality learning experiences and close peer relationships in preschool.