In Japan, small children take the subway and run errands alone, no parent in sight. The reason why has more to do with social trust than self-reliance.
Some cultural practices can be transplanted just about anywhere; others require a cultural environment wherein that particular practice is sufficiently well-known and communally supported for it to thrive. The idea of sending kids this young out on errands is almost unthinkable in the United States given our cultural norms connected to youth and space. As additional food for thought, here is an article about 9 parenting strategies around the world that culturally don’t mesh well within the United States.
Questions to Ponder: Why do cultural norms vary so much from place to place? How are your actions shaped by cultural norms? Can you think of an example of a cultural practice that is accepted somewhere, but wouldn’t work in most other societies?