The purpose of this study was to explore the parenting beliefs of large ultra-orthodox families living in Israel within the context of religion, culture, and large family size.
The ultra-orthodox community in Israel represents a growing and insular population. Little research has been done exploring the nature of parenting beliefs in this community. In particular, the opinions of children on this topic have been neglected in the literature.
A qualitative design using semistructured interviews was used as the primary research instrument. The study sample consisted of 25 individuals from five ultra-orthodox families. All members of the family above age 10 were interviewed.
Parents focused on the individuality of their children and made efforts to provide individualized attention to them. These intentions existed alongside a strong emphasis from both parents and children on hierarchy and respect for elders. These beliefs were identified as “Torah values” and were understood to originate within a religious framework with divine origin.
Clinical and research implications of the findings are discussed. Participants supported a framework that emphasized the Euro-American parenting values of individuality and support but did not include democratic elements of child–parent interaction. Instead, hierarchical beliefs that reinforced family hierarchy and obedience from children predominated.
In ultra-orthodox households in Israel, firm boundaries and strict hierarchy should not be associated with low levels of warmth and attunement. A lack of tolerance for difference is not necessarily an indication of an absence of appreciation of individuality.