Defining and reclaiming traditional Indigenous child rearing practices

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Hunter, Sandra
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The current study aims to document traditional Indigenous child rearing practices and seek guidance on the reclamation of those practices to inform the development of supportive family programs. Parents have a lasting influence on their children’s wellbeing, though not all populations have the same opportunities for raising their children in values and culturally aligned ways. Indigenous families in Canada currently experience intergenerational effects of culturally oppressive policies and discriminatory practices within the social systems. Though traditional Indigenous child rearing practices have been eroded through these colonial acts, resurgence of knowledge and reclamation of these practices hold potential to increase pride in cultural identity resulting in increased well-being of Indigenous families and communities. With a focus on conversational storytelling methods, five qualitative interviews were conducted with traditional Knowledge Keepers in the Manitoba region (Treaty Territories 1, 2, 4, 5). Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using qualitative descriptive analysis and reflected on through interpretive meaning making. Consistent with these qualitative approaches and Indigenous research methods, the aims of analyses were to develop insights within and across interviews based on my own subjective experience and positionality as an Indigenous mother, in a reflective capacity to how it applies to my life and also in a reflexive capacity of how my beliefs have shaped my views of the interview content. Abbreviated transcripts are provided such that future readers may learn and develop their own unique insights from the wisdom and stories shared by traditional Knowledge Keepers on this topic. Results revealed processes involved in the passing on of teachings which promote family bonding, respect, functioning, and passing down of traditional practices such as infant and child ceremony, examples of cultural child rearing beliefs including the sacredness and centering of the child in the community, and the importance of intergenerational relationships in the care of children. This study will contribute to a growing understanding within the family psychology and child development literatures about traditional Indigenous cultural content and lay groundwork for the creation of parenting programs for Indigenous families. This study can contribute to all reader’s own knowledge about Indigenous world views and practices.
Indigenous, child rearing practices, parenting practices, intergenerational relationships, cultural identity, well-being