Family Life With a Focus Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2052 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 11  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Native Americans

¶ … family life with a focus on the Native American community. The writer explores child rearing, parenting, moral training, infant care and other aspects of the Native American culture and presents it here in a cohesive fashion. There were eight sources used to complete this paper.


The concept of family is important in almost every culture in the world. How one raises children, treats children and support children is instrumental in any culture. Native Americans have struggled for many years to maintain their individual culture and tradition in a world that has spent 200 years trying to strip it away. One of the more difficult elements of maintaining that culture has been in the area of family. Family traditions, and Native American culture have clashed with modern America and the result for many has been confusion, depression and anger as children and teenagers rebel against their parent's wishes. While this is common in almost all family cultures the Native American culture also wrestles with prejudice and bias against their ways. Today, many Native Americans are striving to raise their children with respect for modern ways while still maintaining the traditions of their heritage.

The Native American culture has ideas that lend themselves to a nurturing view of parenting, to using Mother Nature to teach children the basics of human nature and to drawing out the unique strengths in every child (parenting ("

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Native Americans do not believe in spanking the young. The young are innocent gifts from a higher power and as such are treated with warmth, love and respect.

The Native American family has something in common with the African-American family in that the extended family raises the child (The Family ( adage "It takes a village" has never been more applicable than it is in Native American culture and tradition.

Term Paper on Family Life With a Focus on the Assignment

Children are raised not only by their parents, but also by aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and adopted adults who have no blood ties to the child but become part of the family out of the family's love for them.

Infants in a Native American family are rarely left alone in a crib or playpen. They are often held by an adult even when work is taking place. In the days of tribal living papooses would allow the infant to be close to the adult while the adult cooked, cleaned, washed or performed other daily duties. This tradition has continued, though the papoose is rarely seen. In its place are adults willing to coddle and swaddle the infant so that he or she has almost constant human contact with the world around him.

It is Native American family tradition for members to be extremely close. Cousins grow up together as brothers and sisters, and the entire family celebrates when there is a cause for celebration.

Families are expected to handle their problems within the family. This means if a teenager is caught breaking the law the family wants the ability to choose a proper punishment, which in many cases is actually a learning experience. It is not unusual for a teenager who has broken the law or the rules of the tribe to be sent to the wilderness to learn to survive and become strong as a human being (The Family ( is this attitude of teaching and learning to guide moral development that sets the Native American culture apart from the Caucasian culture, which sends its unruly juveniles to the court system for handling.

Children are taught from a young age not to seek outside help for problems. For instance, if there is a domestic violence situation going on in the home the family is expected to handle the issue. If the women or the children go outside of the family to seek assistance they are looked down on not only by the family but also by the other tribe members. It is not that domestic violence is ignored. The Native American tradition respects women as equal to men. It is that the culture believes that family should handle and deal with its own problems.

The U.S. Census Bureau (2000) states that approximately 4.1 million residents of the United States identify themselves as American Indian or Alaska Natives (2.5 million report only American Indian or Alaska Native heritage; another 1.6 million report mixed heritage including American Indian or Alaska Native). Although there are many tribes in the United States, there are approximately 116 tribes with more than 1,000 members federally recognized by the United States government (Native American Populations: One Name, Many Tribes ("

This means that the Native American family holds onto tradition as it continues to identify itself separate and apart from the rest of the nation.

While the family structure and dynamic varies somewhat from tribe to tribe the basics remain the same.

The respect of children is interwoven and has been since the beginning of time. As young children they are allowed to explores and giggle and laugh. Their only position in the world is to wonder at life and explore the possibilities.

They are guided in their moral development by example and making the right choices and enjoying the natural successes that come from those choices.

By the same token they are allowed to suffer the natural consequences of making the wrong moral choices.

The moral upbringing of Native American children is steeped in the spiritual beliefs that the culture holds to be true. This too is founded in the element of respect.

The core value of family life and belief among all Native American tribes is based in respect, spiritual values and the desire to hang onto tradition and culture regardless of how society attempts to make it disappear.

Most Native American families are extended and often include mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. It is not uncommon to have adopted relatives in the household and all living in very close proximity to one another.

Native Americans tend to have a high fertility rate, a large percentage of out-of-wedlock births, strong roles for women and families headed by a single mother or another family female adult (Native American Populations: One Name, Many Tribes ("

This goes to the fact that culturally women as child rearers and workers have always been respected.

They highly value traditional beliefs concerning relation, harmony, balance, spirituality, and wellness; as part of valuing "relation" all these beliefs are interrelated (Native American Populations: One Name, Many Tribes ("

The importance of family within the Native American culture is second only to spiritual growth and understanding.

Family members work to live close to each other and spend their off days together in gatherings, dinners, or other forms of quality time.

Children are raised to value community interaction and giving. The sharing of success as well as failure as a family unit is a given that is deeply ingrained within the culture of Native Americans.

Among the many aspects of Native American culture is the emphasis on unity through seeking harmony and balance both inwardly and outwardly. Generally, Native American traditional values reflect the importance placed upon community contribution, sharing, cooperation, being, noninterference, community and extended family, harmony with nature, a time orientation toward living in the present, preference for explanation of natural phenomena according to the spiritual, and a deep respect for elders (Native American Populations: One Name, Many Tribes ("

With the emphasis of family, respect and children it is not surprising that Native American tradition values and supports breast feeding and other bonding steps between mother and child.

Native American play behavior is often founded in the mimicking of adults. Children learn by watching and then copying what they see. This can be problematic in the issues of high rate of alcoholism within the community however it is also something that can have a positive impact on Native American children when they are emulating the spiritual strength and moral beliefs of those they are raised around.

Although many Native American elders assist in encouraging the identity development of their children, there is still a growing disparity of identity development within the Native American people. Colonization greatly harmed the Native Americans' cultural identity adoption. Like most bi-cultural identity development, Native Americans are often living in two different cultures. Often, individuals intertwine the dominant culture and their Native American identity together (Native American Populations: One Name, Many Tribes ("

The cultural traditions prevail in many Native American families though teenagers often try to rebel and become non-traditional. This is common in almost any culture that is touched by modern society.

Native American children are raised to respect their bodies and eat healthy foods as they are given by the earth (Spiritual Beliefs Common to Most Indian Tribes (

The language development of Native Americans happens much the same way that it happens in other cultures. Children grow and learn by watching the adults around them and working to mimic the words. At one time Native Americans were forbidden to speak… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Family Life With a Focus" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Family Life With a Focus.  (2006, July 28).  Retrieved January 26, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Family Life With a Focus."  28 July 2006.  Web.  26 January 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Family Life With a Focus."  July 28, 2006.  Accessed January 26, 2021.