Culture has massive influence on perception and behavior of an individual. Since culture defines religion, family unit, social orientation, and perception, there is a distinct variation between children brought up in different environments. Basically, the beliefs of the parents or guardians in such environments heavily influence the beliefs of the children. This analytical paper will attempt to explicitly establish the similarities and differences between children brought up in Saudi Arabia and their counterparts in the USA. The paper will focus on religion, culture, identity, gender, and general welfare.
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Saudi Arabia and the USA environments
Saudi Arabia is located in the Middle East and consists of a predominant Muslim population. The country is well developed and has a poverty index of below 20%. Generally, this society consists of a conservative population, who value communal living. On the other hand, the USA is located in the west and is dominated by other religions other than Islamic faith. In fact, the Muslims are among the minority religions. This society is dominated by non-conservative population, who are very articulate on social issues. The poverty index is also below 20% in this environment (Butters 23).
Differences between children brought up in Saudi Arabia and the US
Saudi Arabia is one of the many nations in the Middle East with the state religion being Islam. In fact, nearly 100% of the Saudi Arabians are Muslims. The Islamic religion is part and parcel of their social interaction and everyone is aware of what is expected of him and her as a Muslim. The religion controls family unit, social events, educational approach, and perception towards social issues in the society. As part of the religious requirement, it is the duty of every parent to pass down the Islamic teaching to their children. It is considered an achievement when a parent successfully raises a religious child (House 57).
From the above reflection, it is apparent that children brought up in Saudi Arabia are likely to become Muslims in the footsteps of their parents. Everything in the Saudi Arabian society has some element of Islamic religion in it, from naming ceremony, dedication, and even the major life passages. Basically, children brought up in Saudi Arabia will find is almost impossible to belong to another religion. Through an extended period of interaction with the Islamic faith, children brought up in the Saudi Arabian environment tend to emulate the Islamic culture (Long 31).
In contrast, depending on the descent, a child raised in the US may belong to a different religion rather that Islamic faith. There are several religious groupings in the US. The main religious affiliation is Christianity, with other religious groupings such Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism as part of the minority affiliations. Since the majority of the American population consists of Christians, children brought up in the US environment are more likely to followers of the Christian faith than any other religion. Basically, the children brought up in the US tend to be less conservative, in terms of strictness in religious doctrines. Basically, this is influenced by the underlying belief system in the majority religion (Hearst 17).
Children brought up in Saudi Arabia tend to acknowledge and recognize their identity at an earlier age than children brought up in the US. Basically, in relation to this comparative analysis, identity formation is the ability to recognize the unique features of a society as influenced by the way a child is brought up. Reflectively,“this identity formation begins at a young age in Saudi Arabia” (Rosenthal et al. 6). The social, cultural, and other forms of identity are developed in Saudi Arabia, among children because of their conservative upbringing. Every aspect of life is introduced into the lives of the young children. As a result, they grow up following these internalized beliefs on different symbols of the society (Hunt and Besheer 15).
On the other hand, characteristic of a western upbringing, children in the US tends to develop their identity formation at a later age, probably in schools. Most parents in the US do not take their time to introduce different aspects of acculturation among their children, since they concentrate on other aspects of upbringing. Very few children in the US have the opportunity to be passed through the cultural aspects of their society by their parents. Rather, this knowledge is only acquired at school going age, even among the Muslims in the US. Thus, children brought up in the US tend to have weaker social identity formation than their counterparts raised in Saudi Arabia. This may be informed by the fact that they have bonded to their cultural identity, since such children interact with very many cultures at a very tender age (Mtango 50).
Perceptions of gender and gender roles
As part of the Islamic upbringing, children brought up in Saudi Arabia have definite perception and psychological orientation about gender and gender roles in the society. The male and female children in Saudi Arabia are brought up differently and the aspect of gender role is defined even before they start school. These children grow up to become adults with specific gender roles in the family. For instance, in the Saudi Arabian society, the female gender is expected to do house chores and take care of the family. On the other hand, the male gender is expected to offer security and provide for the family.
Due to their conservative upbringing, children in Saudi Arabia grow up into adults with fixed mind on the roles of the males and females in the society. For instance, as part of their Islamic upbringing, children brought up in Saudi Arabia tend to practice defined gender roles in adulthood in conformity with the social orientation (Volkman 51).
In comparison, children brought up in the US tend to be more liberal adults, especially inthe definition of gender roles and gender orientation. Reflectively, children brought up in the US do not have preconceived notion of the gender roles between males and females. This is because they are brought up in a similar way within the same environment. As compared to Saudi Arabia, in adulthood, it is apparent that male children brought up in the US environment tend to be more accommodating to their female counterparts and shares family roles, which are reserved for female gender in the Saudi Arabian society. When the US children grow up, males and females have the same opportunities in education, employment, wealth creation, and executing family responsibilities. This is the opposite in Saudi Arabia since the girl child is often denied such opportunities by her upbringing (Earls 19).
Behavior orientation and adolescent labels
Children brought up in Saudi Arabia tend to be more obedient to the authority and seniors in their adolescent and adulthood than children brought up in the US. Since their upbringing is strict, these children believe that the authority and seniors are more superior in judgment than their peers. During the adolescent age, children brought up in Saudi Arabia tend to be aware of imperfections as defined in their religious upbringing.
As a result, they consult the older members of the society for guidance on what is accepted as an appropriate behavior. Their behavior is defined by the strict upbringing, which “provides a set of behavioral guidelines or long accepted behavioral guidelines explained as deriving from the religion. But this does not mean that Arab Adolescents always conform to those guidelines or see them as essential to their own faith” (Volkman 22). However, the majority of these children conform to the societal norms.
In comparison, children brought up in the US tend to be restless and rebellious at their age. Apparently, this is due to the fact that the values defining expected behavior are weaker in the US society. In fact, “degeneration of values is often cited as the source of the trend toward earlier sexual behavior. Political and moralistic arguments implicate detachment from religion as fundamental to a downward shift in age at first time of intercourse” (Rosenthal et al. 11). Since the US society has “lower levels of religiosity, it influence teens’ decision to have sex for the first time” (Volkman 24).
In addition, the level of drug abuse or misuse among children in the US is higher than their counterparts in Saudi Arabia. Apparently, excessive exposure of children to explicit media content in the US could be associated with the rebellious adolescent age and drug abuse tendencies. Unlike Saudi Arabia, where media content is regulated even for young adults, there is excess explicit media content in most of the homes in America. As a result, children raised in the US often get exposed to explicit media content at a tender age, which has a negative influence on their behavior (Volkman 33). Children brought up in Saudi Arabia speak Arabic as their first language while children in the US speak English as their first language (Steindorf 17).
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Similarities between children brought up in Saudi Arabia and the US
Depending on the type of family, children brought in Saudi Arabia and the US have same cultural, social, and societal orientation, especially among families of Islamic descent. Muslim children brought up in the US have similar characteristics, that the Saudi Arabian children posses. This could be attributed to similar religion, similar societal orientation, and similar style of upbringing (Long 21).
In conclusion, it is apparent that the nature of upbringing is heavily influenced by a dominant culture, set of societal beliefs, religious inclination, and the physical environment. Among the notable difference between children brought up in Saudi Arabia and children in the US include variances in religious inclination, identity formation, perception of gender roles, and behavioral orientation. In addition, there is a difference in language and dressing style. However, the similarities are clear when comparison is made between children raised in Saudi Arabia and the Muslim descent children in the US.
Butters, Andrew. “Saudi’s Small Steps”. Time International 174 (2009): 22-26. EBSCOhost. Web.
Earls, Felton. The Child as Citizen., New York: SAGE, 2011. Print.
Hearst, Alice. Children and the Politics of Cultural Belonging, London: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Print.
House, Karen. “I pray my daughters have a life like mine.” Newsweek 160.14 (2012): 54-59. EBSCOhost. Web.
Hunt, Janin and Margaret Besheer. Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi: Marshall Cavendhis, 2003. Print.
Long, David. Culture and Customs of Saudi Arabia, New York: Greenwood Press, 2005. Print.
Mtango, Sifa. “A state of oppression? Women’s rights in Saudi Arabia”. Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights & the Law 5.1 (2004): 49-67. Print.
Rosenthal, Julia, Lauren Moreland, Ashley Powers, Megan Packard, Marika Heinicke, Oscar Ramos, Gabriel Camacho, Michael Mattar, and Syeda Kinza 2013, Comparison of cultures: The United States and the Middle East. Web.
Steindorf, Sara. An American, A Muslim, A Teen. The Christian Science Monitor. 2001. Web.
Volkman, Toby. Cultures of Transnational Adoption, California: Duke University Press, 2005. Print.