16. Views on masculinity and femininity and the traditional roles they play, vary from culture to culture and affect not only spouses but their extended family as well. In some cultures, the man is the head of the family but in other cultures, the woman is regarded as the head of the family.
For example, where men are the head of the family, women are raised to take care of them so they’ll cook and clean even if it’s not their own house. In another culture, it could be regarded as offensive if a guest cleans your house or even oppressive if a woman is expected to look after a man.
Cultural expectations about the roles and functions of partners differ greatly, such as the way some men are expected to be chivalrous and romantic while in other cultures women do not expect men to open doors for them or carry their bags.
17. Some cultures do not tolerate fussy eaters and their children eat the same foods as the adults, where other cultures prefer their children to eat before or separately from the adults and prepare simple foods for them. It could take considerable compromise from parents to accommodate these differences in their parenting during marriage and even more so post-divorce.
18. If you were raised in a culture where the emphasis was placed on your cognitive development, you would expect to raise your children in the same way. However, if your spouse was raised in a culture where the emphasis was placed on their physical needs and emotional development as a child, they would expect to raise their children in that way.
A combination of both would benefit any child in a married family but in a divorced family, care needs to be taken to uphold both cultures in the absence of one parent or the other.
19. In cultures that place a high value on the family unit, children are allowed to stay up late and spend time interacting with each other, whereas in cultures that place a high value on individual development, children have to go to bed early in order to prepare for school the next day. Allowing children to stay up late is often construed as a lack of routine and discipline by the parent and might be opposed by the other parent.
20. Some societies rely on a strong intergenerational family unit and children provide social security for elders, so several generations will live together. In other societies, children are sent far away to pursue careers as they rely more on personal success, so family members live scattered apart.
21. Cultural views about corporal punishment play a large role in parenting. Sweden banned it in 1979 and many countries have followed suit since then. While some cultures might consider spanking a necessity, others might consider it abusive or violent.
Being mindful of the cultural diversity in our relationships, families and larger communities, fosters a deeper understanding and cultivates a high level of tolerance for that which is foreign. Once that is achieved, civilised divorce negotiations and co-parenting can be achieved. Then we can indulge in the joy of discovering new cultures, rituals, music, food and much more. Better yet, we’ll make life-long connections and raise brilliant families!
This article, written by Sinta Ebersohn, first appeared on www.fairdivorce.co.za and is published here with her permission.