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Fam Process. 2003 Spring;42(1):151-64.

Parental values and ethnic identity in indigenous Sami families: a qualitative study.

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  • 1Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Tromsø.


The qualitative study reported in this article is part of a larger multimethod investigation of child-rearing practices and child-behavior problems in indigenous Sami and majority Norwegian populations in the Sami core area in Northern Norway. In the primary quantitative study we found significant ethnic differences between Sami and Norwegian parents in various areas of child rearing and family structure. Seeking the deeper cultural meaning underlying the parental practices and attitudes that had emerged in the indigenous Sami group, we performed additional indepth interviews. Four parents, selected from the sample of 134 Sami parents, served as subjects. Giorgi's descriptive phenomenological method was used. Data analysis of the interviews identified seven key consitituents of Sami child rearing, which in their interrelationships formed a common structure that constitutes the results of this study. These constituents were: (1) Independence, (2) Hardiness, (3) Autonomy, (4) Closeness/Love, (5) Sami Language, (6) Sami Traditions, and (7) Extended Family. The first four constituents are constituents pertaining to child-rearing values, while the latter three are contextual constituents, related to the promotion of ethnic identity. The study discusses the contemporary dilemmas and challenges that face Sami families in raising their children. It highlights the phenomenon of cultural transition in minority families as an important topic in family research.

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