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Parental Ethno-theories among Immigrant & Irish Parents of Infants in Ireland

Research Staff

Dr. Elizabeth Nixon with Co-investigators:

Prof. Sheila Greene, Prof. Imelda Coyne (TCD School of Nursing) & Prof. Kevin J. Nugent (University of Massachusetts at Amherst, USA)

About the Project

This research is concerned with exploring "parental ethno-theories" or cultural models that parents hold regarding children, families and themselves as parents, among immigrant and Irish parents of infants in Ireland. A further goal of the research is to examine the relation of these cultural belief systems to parenting behaviours and activities. The key research question to be addressed is: what are the child rearing beliefs and practices of immigrant and Irish parents of infants in Ireland?


The study involves an exploration of parenting practices and parents' beliefs about their parenting role among three groups of parents who are the primary carers of their newborn infants (most typically these parents will be mothers): 12 Irish-born parents, 12 Polish parents and 12 Nigerian parents. These two immigrant groups have been selected because they represent two of the main immigrant communities in Ireland.


Research methods involve observations of parent-child interaction and qualitative in-depth interviews with parents. Each parent will be involved in two stages of data collection: the first visit will take place in the first two months following the birth of their infant, and the second approximately six months later. Interviews with the parents will focus upon the story of the pregnancy and the birth, parental beliefs, values and explanations for their parenting behaviours, context and history of the family’s life in the parent’s country of origin and in Ireland, and experiences of cultural continuity and discontinuity. Data collection is complete and analysis is underway.

Funded By

IRCHSS - Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences


Last updated 9 November 2011 by The Children′s Research Centre (Email).