Some Samoans' perceptions, values and beliefs on the role of parents and children within the context of aiga/family and the influence of fa'asamoa and the church on Samoan parenting
Cowley-Malcolm, Esther (Esther Tumama)
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This qualitative study describes maternal and paternal experiences of thirty-five Samoans living in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. The study was conducted in order to establish, “What, if any changes to parenting practices have occurred since their family migrated into New Zealand?” Through interviews, respondents discussed their values, attitudes and beliefs and how they perceived that they were brought up by their own parents. They also described and discussed their own roles as parents and the roles of their children. They also discussed how the church influenced the ways in which their parents parented them and the way they themselves parent their children. Respondents were chosen via a snowball technique of referrals from four different church ministers. The four churches were selected on the recommendation of one Samoan Church Minister as being representative of the Samoan community. Four ministers were interviewed, along with four elders and five parents from each church. Seven other people from outside these churches, four not church attenders were also interviewed in order to be able to further explore the importance and effects of the churches. The theoretical approach engaged a combination of the principles of Grounded Theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) and the ‘Fa’afaletui,’ (Tamasese, 1997.) The latter is a Samoan framework which gives a multi-layered approach to data interpretation using a range of lenses and perspectives. In conducting this investigation, the combination of Western and Samoan frameworks was appropriate especially given the cultural sensitivities that were apparent around the topic matter and the ethnicity of the respondents and the researcher. Earlier findings, concerning discipline by (Fairbairn-Dunlop, 2002) were affirmed, as were findings about fa’alavelave from the earlier study into parenting practices (McCallum et al, 2000). In this present study, it was found that enculturation (i.e changes in culture) over time, modified parenting practices and specifically that inter-generational perspectives about parenting practices were apparent. Evidence of conflicting approaches to values between generations was encountered and a range of rituals were adapted as a consequence of migration and time; discipline and fa’alavelave were prime examples of this. The relative paucity of a body of Pasifika literature and Pacific research by Pacific people, from which a theoretical foundation for a study of this kind could be developed, was seen to be problematic. It is concluded that enculturation following migration spawns a reconstruction of values and associated practices in parenting and that previously held core values concerning discipline, the church and the family become altered over time and generations. It is also suggested that future research should seek to corroborate the findings of this study by examining the parenting practices of the next generation.