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Customs and Traditions as They Relate to Child-Rearing in the Arab Culture

by Nadia Haris

In the Arab world, culture and tradition are strong influences on family life, including how children are raised. This affects the children's relationships with family members, household environment, education and expectations. Arab culture traditionally emphasizes the extended family and community and raising a child is more of a communal role, rather than only the duty of the parents.

Family Life

In many areas in the Arab world, the traditional extended family is still the preferred way to live. A family might include grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all under the same roof or in a compound-like home. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and other elders in the family help raise children. People in urban areas might live with only parents and children in the household, but they still will have close ties with relatives who will play a role in child-rearing. The website Arab Family Life notes that supervising, educating, disciplining and raising children is a role that all the elders in the family are responsible for in some way.

Gender Roles

In traditional Arab culture, women are predominantly in charge of the household and family matters, including child-rearing, notes the website Arab Business Etiquette. Infants and younger children will spend most of their time with their mothers, grandmothers and aunts, who are responsible for their care and discipline. Older sisters and female cousins are also expected to help with caring for and playing with younger children. As children get older, they might spend more time with their father, uncles and other men in the family.

Honor and Respect

Honor and respect within the family are important traditions in Arab culture. Children are taught to respect and obey their elders from an early age. For this reason, child-rearing will include teaching children to honor and care for parents, grandparents and other elders. Additionally, the website Arab Business Etiquette notes that traditional Arab culture considers family matters private and children will be taught that speaking about family issues outside the home is shameful and brings dishonor on the family.

Community

Arab cultural is traditionally community- and tribal-oriented, according to Arab Business Etiquette. Children are taught to help others and contribute to their communities. The Islamic value of charity and being a good Samaritan is strongly emphasized; parents teach children these values through stories that talk about the rewards of being noble to others.

Education

Educating children in Arab culture differs in city and rural areas. While most families in urban areas emphasize education for their children and might have private tutors and regular schooling, many poorer families are not able to educate their children. The website Children and Youth in History notes that many children in poorer, rural areas still learn how to work the land and are instructed in traditional crafts by their families. The only formal education for these children will be learning religious studies in the mosques. Arab culture has traditionally emphasized both the sciences and the arts. Many family teach their children some form of traditional dance, music, poetry and painting.

About the Author

Nadia Haris is a registered radiation therapist who has been writing about nutrition for more than six years. She is completing her Master of Science in nutrition with a focus on the dietary needs of oncology patients.

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