Coming of Age in Samoa

Margaret Mead went to Samoa for nine months to study the differences between American culture and other societies.Through her studies, she concluded that Samoan life was not filled with as much stress due to the down play ofsex and marriage.In the book Coming of Age in Samoa, she shares her experiences which act as evidence that the causes of adolescent stress is a result of our culture.The Samoan culture is more accepting of the idea of premarital sex, which reduces the societal pressures after the phase of puberty.
The similarities between Samoan and American culture begin during childhood.In both cultures, this time is important in learning basic skills that will be needed in life.In Samoa, the stress is put heavily upon the older siblings to teach the younger children these skills.Mead observed, "Just as a child is getting old enough so that its willfulness is becoming unbearable, a younger one is saddled upon it, and the whole process is repeated again, each child being disciplined and socialized through the responsibility for a still younger one."(Mead 1928:19).The young girls will be trusted as baby tenders around the age of six or seven until they are old enough to begin work on the plantations.During this period, the girls are at the beck and call of their elders and the children they watch.Mead wrote, "These haunt them from morning until night…..It may be said with some justice that the worst period of their lives is over." (Mead 1928:21).However, the boys will be relieved of the younger children around the ages of eight and nine because they can help the older boys with their work.Much like in the American culture, children are often given the responsibility to look after their younger siblings and to teach them skills that they will need.When I was young, I remember spending hours playing school in my basement with my younger sister, while my parents relaxed upstairs….

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