Children’s Activity and Their Meanings for Parents: A Mixed-Methods Study in Six Western Cultures

Sara Harkness , Piotr Żylicz , Charles Super , Barbara Welles-Nystrom , Moises Rios Bermudez , Sabrina Bonichini , Ughetta Moscardino , Caroline Johnston Mavridis


Theoretical perspectives and research in sociology, anthropology, sociolinguistics, and cultural psychology converge in recognizing the significance of children’s time spent in various activities, especially in the family context. Knowing how children’s time is deployed, however, only gives us a partial answer to how children acquire competence; the other part must take into account the culturally constructed meanings of activities, from the perspective of those who organize and direct children’s daily lives. In this article, we report on a study of children’s routine daily activities and on the meanings that parents attribute to them in six Western middle-class cultural communities located in Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United States (N 183). Using week-long time diaries kept by parents, we first demonstrate similarities as well as significant differences in children’s daily routines across the cultural samples. We then present brief vignettes—“a day in the life” —of children from each sample. Parent interviews were coded for themes in the meanings attributed to various activities. Excerpts from parent interviews, focusing on four major activities (meals, family time, play, school- or developmentally related activities), are presented to illustrate how cultural meanings and themes are woven into parents’ organization and understanding of their children’s daily lives. The results of this mixed-method approach provide a more reliable and nuanced picture of children’s and families’ daily lives than could be derived from either method alone.
Author Sara Harkness
Sara Harkness,,
, Piotr Żylicz (Wydział Psychologii)
Piotr Żylicz,,
- Wydział Psychologii
, Charles Super
Charles Super,,
, Barbara Welles-Nystrom
Barbara Welles-Nystrom,,
, Moises Rios Bermudez
Moises Rios Bermudez,,
, Sabrina Bonichini
Sabrina Bonichini,,
, Ughetta Moscardino
Ughetta Moscardino,,
, Caroline Johnston Mavridis
Caroline Johnston Mavridis,,
Journal seriesJournal of Family Psychology, ISSN 0893-3200, (A 35 pkt)
Issue year2011
Publication size in sheets0.7
Keywords in Englishchildren’s activities, family routines, parental beliefs, culture
Languageen angielski
Children-s-Activities-and-Their-Meanings-for-Parents.pdf of 14-09-2015
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Children-s-Activities-and-Their-Meanings-for-Parents_nadbitka.pdf of 01-01-0001
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Score (nominal)35
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