The study of these variations as well as how differences within and among the variations emerge, help in understanding the ways to adapt to various social and cultural environs, thus facilitating a broader understanding of human behaviour. Development spans the life from the prenatal period to old age and death. Through this process the stages of infancy, childhood and adolescence are identified as critical times in an individual’s life as most growth, learning and change occur through these periods.
Taking a developmental approach to understanding one’s life-span highlights the importance of culture as a relevant factor in the variation in the different phases of life. The article discusses the value of children and family change. It identifies that the mediating variable between socio-cultural environmental factors and individual outcomes is the ‘value of children’ (VOC). This value is the underlying reason for the motives for having children and constitutes the determining aspect of childhood in every cultural setting.
There was significant variance in the value attributed to children across countries of different socio-economic differences as well as within the levels of socio-economic differences in individual countries. Smith et al. , identify three models of family: 1) the family model of interdependence, 2) the family model of independence and, 3) the family model of psychological interdependence. These models seek to explain the development of the family in a cultural context. Within the third model, the individual sense of self is observed and defined as the autonomous-relational self-construal.
This type of self-construct integrates the need for relatedness and the need for autonomy. In essence the article illustrates the reflection of cultural values and the continuity of culture through child-rearing. It identifies the remake of culture in a socio-economic context through urbanization and immigration. Therefore, in studying human behaviour across cultures, global human diversity is defined as a product of the value attributed to children, family patterns and the emergence of self.