Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Diversity in parenting and education


Judi Mesman


Ethnicity, gender and socio economic background represent some of the most fundamental aspects of people’s identities. Moreover, these characteristics tend to influence the social and geographical environments children live in, as well as the way they are treated by others.

In this research cluster we investigate the influence of ethnicity, gender, and socio economic background on family functioning and on children’s educational experiences and achievement. We examine explanations for group differences (mediation models), as well as the effect of group status on the impact of parenting and education on child development (moderation models).

With regard to gender we are currently investigating gender-differentiated parenting in relation to the development of gender differences in child prosocial and antisocial behavior. With regard to ethnicity we are conducting several studies on parenting and child development in Turkish families in the Netherlands. These include an international study on predictors of positive school transitions of Turkish children in the Netherlands, Germany, and Norway, as well as a study on the effectiveness of a culture-sensitive adaptation of the VIPP-SD.

In this research cluster we also look for similarities and common experiences across different groups that may be indicative of universal human needs and traits. For example, our recent literature review showed that parental sensitivity is related to positive child outcomes across ethnic groups, and one of our empirical studies showed that maternal beliefs about sensitive parenting are very similar across different ethnic groups in the Netherlands.

These findings sparked a now ongoing international cross-cultural study on maternal beliefs about sensitive parenting that has so far include the Netherlands, Turkey, Chile, Ethiopia, and Israel, with plans in several other countries.

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