Many religious and cultural settings embrace the principle to “honor your parents.” However, how individuals understand and enact this mandate varies by cultural context and community. The different understanding of “honor your parents” draws attention to motivations for parental caregiving across cultural contexts. This study investigates how individuals in three different cultural settings conceptualize “honoring your parents” and how these conceptualizations impact their perceptions of obligations to care for an older parent.
Semi-structured interviews with 153 individuals in the United States, Ghana, and Nigeria explored the concept of “honor your parents,” how it is understood, and its relationship to the perceived obligation to care for one’s parents. A content analysis was applied to all transcripts and analyzed for discussion.
Among individuals in the United States, “honor your parents” is less likely to be conceived as providing material and instrumental care to a parent, and more in terms of emotional care. In contrast, individuals in Nigeria and Ghana closely associated “honor your parents” with providing material and instrumental care to a parent.
Understanding how different conceptions of “honor your parents” translate to expectations for and modes of parental caregiving can illuminate how caregiving needs can be met for the aging populations of the United States, Ghana, and Nigeria.