Who's in Charge?: Coparenting in South and Southeast Asian Families

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Abstract

In light of the evolving roles of parents and the involvement of extended family within Asian cultures, the traditionally Western dyadic coparenting construct must be reconceptualized to include not only the coparenting relationship, but also other caregivers within the coparenting network. Theoretical and empirical evidence on coparental systems are discussed and two studies from South and Southeast Asian cultures are presented to highlight subcultural variations in cocaregiving networks. Results indicated that mothers were the primary caregivers across both cultural contexts. Extended family members assumed important coparental responsibilities in both cultural contexts. These findings highlight the need to reconceptualize and expand the dyadic coparental unit to include extended family members. We also discuss the relevance of the broader coparental network in examining the Asian child”s education as well as cognitive and socioemotional development.

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