International Journal of Behavioral Development 2002, 26 (6), 481–491 http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/pp/01650254.html
# 2002 T he International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development DOI: 10.1080/01650250143000436
Similarities and differences in mothers’ parenting of preschoolers in China and the United States* Peixia Wua, Clyde C. Robinsona, Chongming Yanga, Craig H. Harta, Susanne F. Olsena, Christin L. Portera, Shenghua Jin b, Jianzhong Wob , and Xinzi Wuc This investigation was designed to extend the work of Chao (1994) by examining parenting constructs emphasised in the Chinese culture in conjunction with parenting constructs derived and emphasised in North America. Mothers of preschool-age children from mainland China (N ˆ 284) and the United States (N ˆ 237) completed two self-report parenting questionnaires. One assessed dimensions of parenting practices emphasised in China (encouragement of modesty, protection, directiveness, shaming/love withdrawal, and maternal involvement). The second measured specic stylistic dimensions within Baumrind’s global conceptualisations of authoritative (warmth/ acceptance, reasoning/induction, democratic participation) and authoritarian (physical coercion, verbal hostility, nonreasoning/punitive) parenting. Mostly invariant factor structures were obtained across cultures for both measures. Results showed that the ve parenting constructs emphasised in China were mostly nonoverlapping and independent in both cultures. In addition, the parenting constructs emphasised in China were relatively independent from the constructs emphasised in North America. As anticipated, Chinese mothers scored higher than US mothers on all parenting constructs emphasised in China except maternal involvement. For parenting constructs emphasised in North America, Chinese mothers scored lower than US mothers on warmth/acceptance and democratic participation, but scored higher on physical coercion.
Authoritative and authoritarian parenting style typologies have a long tradition of inquiry in the North American literature (Baumrind, 1971 ; Maccoby & Martin, 1983). However, recent studies have raised questions concerning the ethnocentricity of North American parenting constructs, particularly as pertaining to diverse groups (see Baumrind, 1996; Chao, 1994; Darling & Steinberg, 1993; Nucci, 1994). Specically, it has been argued that Western constructs of authoritative and authoritarian parenting may not capture important features of Chinese child-rearing (Chao, 1994 ; Steinberg, Dornbusch, & Brown, 1992). For example, based on research with 50 US immigrant Chinese mothers of preschool-age children, Chao (1994) proposed that the indigenous Chinese concept of ‘‘training’’, which denotes concern, care, and involvement, in the context of rm and controlling parenting, has important socialisation meanings that extend beyond North Americanbased parenting styles. Alternatively, Chen and colleagues recently suggested that authoritarian and authoritative patterns are present in mainland China, and similarly to Western societies, have signicance for children’s developmen t (Chen, Dong, & Zhou, 1997 ; Chen et al., 2000b). Despite these disparate views, both perspectives accommodate the notion that parenting patterns may be emphasised differently and retain different meanings in the two cultural contexts because
certain aspects of parenting and specic child outcomes may be valued more in one context than another (Chao, 2001; Chen, Liu, & Li, 2000a) T his investigation extends this line of work by examining whether parenting constructs, regardless of the cultural emphasis and meaning attached to them, are evident in Chinese and North American cultures. Most studies have used conceptually derived measures of Chinese and North American parenting with little attention given to psychometric developmen t in ways that would allow for direct comparisons of constructs across cultues (e.g. Chao, 1994 ; Chen et al., 1997). Thus, an important next step would be to create invariant measures of what are typically thought of as Chinese and Western parenting constructs that can be used for assessing their relevance to each cultural context. Moreover, little empirical research has investigated if typical parenting practices emphasised in China might be evident in North American settings. Although parenting constructs may be evident across cultural settings, some patterns may receive more emphasis because of differing cultural norms and the goals toward which children are socialised (cf. Chao, 2001 ; Chen et al., 2000a). Therefore, a second aim of this study was to assess whether cultural emphases would be reected in latent mean differences between Chinese and US mothers of
Brigham Young University, Provo, USA; b Beijing Normal University, China; c University of Virginia, Charlottesville, USA.
Correspondence should be addressed to Clyde C. Robinson, PhD, 1403 SFLC, School of Family Life, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602, USA, Tel: (801) 378-4065 ; Fax: (801 ) 378-2820 ; E-mail: [email protected]
byu.edu. Portions of this study were presented at the XVIth Biennial meetings of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development,
Beijing, China, July, 2000 in a paper symposium entitled ‘‘Understanding parenting behaviour and its correlates in the context of Chinese culture’’. The authors express gratitude to the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, the Camilla Eyring Kimball Endowment, and the Family Studies Center at Brigham Young University for providing funding for this work.
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preschool-age children. This is important for cross-cultural research because it helps establish measurement equivalenc e for parenting constructs across Asian and Western cultures (Berry, Poortinga, Segall, & Dasen, 1992).
Parenting styles and practices Recently, reserchers have made a distinction between specic parenting styles and parenting practices (Stevenson-Hinde, 1998). Parenting practices are designed to meet specic goals such as helping children develop socially, achieve academically, or conform to societal expectations (see Hart, Robinson, Olsen, & McNeilly-Choque, 1998a; Mize, Russell, & Pettit, 1998). Rather than being domain-specic, parenting styles have been dened as ‘‘aggregates or constellations of behaviors that describe parent-child interactions over a wide range of situations and that are presumed to create a pervasive interactional climate’’ (Mize & Pettit, 1997 , p. 291). This climate, as reected in global patterns of style (e.g., Baumrind’s authoritative and authoritarian styles), is thought to help children be more open to the parental input and direction that are reected in specic practices (e.g., Grusec & Goodnow, 1994). Even though parenting styles can encompass parenting practices, styles may transcend cultural boundaries in ways that practices may not (Darling & Steinberg, 1993). Although distinguishing between styles and practices can be useful (Hart, Newell, & Olsen, in press; Mize et al., 1998), some practices may also transcend cultural boundaries. The main goal of this investigation was to assess whether certain parenting practices and styles can be measured in both Chinese and North American cultural settings. If so, this would suggest that both style and practice variables are culture-general in nature. However, they may have varied meanings for different cultural groups, reected in how much emphasis individuals in each culture place upon them (cf. Chao, 2001; Chen et al., 2000a). We anticipated that variations in cultural emphasis would be reected in cultural latent mean differences in parenting practice constructs. Because ‘‘global parenting style is expressed partly through parenting practices’’ as parents carry out socialisation practices in authoritative or authoritarian ways (Darling & Steinberg, 1993 , p. 493), there may be mean level differences in stylistic patterns of parenting as well. We rst consider how parenting practices emphasised in China are currently conceptualised.
Parenting practices emphasised in China Elements that help a cultural group adjust to its environmen t are transmitted through socialisation to each generation (Triandis, 1993). Thus, valued social behaviours are reected in parenting practices and in the degree to which parents agree with them (e.g., Chao, 1994). Socialisation practices emphasised in China include encouragement of modesty, protection, directiveness, shaming/love withdrawal, and maternal involvement. Encouragement of modest behaviour. In the Chinese culture, modesty is reected in moderate, humble, and social conforming behaviour when interacting with others. Historically, achieving and maintaining social order and interpersonal harmony have been primary concerns in the traditional collectivist Chinese society (Chen et al., 1998). For example, the Chinese concept of jen emphasises an individual’s inter-
personal interaction style rather than individual qualities in the developmen t of one’s personality (Hsu, 1971). To t in, people in collectivist cultures ideally strive to inhibit behavioural and emotional expression of individual needs and desires to keep from ‘‘sticking out’’ (Ho, 1986). Humble, modest behaviour, emphasising group over individual accomplishments and interests, is a central Confucian principle, positively valued and encouraged in contemporary Chinese society (T riandis, 1993). The ability to cooperate with others and develop positive relationships is considered an index of individual social maturity. Children who are sensitive, modest, and cooperative are called ‘‘Guai Hai Zi’’ in Mandarin, or ‘‘well-behaved ’’ (Chen, 1998). Consistent with these concepts, Chao (1995) found that immigrant Chinese mothers in the US continued to emphasise their child’s relationships with others over individual psychological attributes. Chao’s ndings are noteworthy since the Chinese concept of self-interdependenc e (T riandis, 1993 ) or collective self (Wu, 1996 ) is quite different from views held in cultures where individualism is more highly valued, such as the US (Gorman, 1998 ) Protection. Parental protection in the Chinese cultural context reects the parental intention of ensuring a safe environment and fostering dependenc y on adults, which is seen as a primary responsibility of parents of young children. From a young age children are required to pledge reverence to their parents. At the same time, parents have the major responsibility to govern, teach, and discipline their child (Chao, 1994). T hese expectations are consistent with Chinese cultural values emphasising the importance of family, the responsibility of parenthood, and the duty to raise well-adjusted children (lial obligation). From this perspective, young children are generally viewed as being incapable of understanding (Ho & Kang, 1984). Thus, Chinese parents typically view their primary role as a protector, with the intent of ensuring a safe and appropriate milieu for their young child and fostering dependenc y on parents for meeting the child’s needs. Compared with North American parents of young children, Chinese parents are more protective (Chen et al., 1998; Lin & Fu, 1990). For example, Chinese parents often encourage their young child to stay physically close to and be dependen t on them (Ho, 1986). Other research (Hart et al., 1998b) suggests that Chinese mothers are prone to mediate peer contacts of their preschool-age children in ways that foster less independence from home than their North American counterparts. Maternal restrictions of their child’s activities to the home are meant to protect and foster dependency, not dominate or inhibit. Such practices are referred to as protective restraint (Wu, 1996). In this sense, perceiving children as incapable of understanding could lead to high parental protection, or what Western scholars refer to as overprotection (cf. Barber, Bean, & Erickson, 2002 ; Rubin, Nelson, Hastings, & Asendorpf, 1999). Shaming/love withdrawal. Chinese parents also use shaming and love withdrawal to foster adherence to societal norms and to promote sensitivity towards the perceptions and feelings of others. Young children ‘‘are strongly socialised to be aware of what others think of them, and are encouraged to act so as to maximise the positive esteem they are granted from others while trying to avoid incurring their disapproval’’ (Schoenhals, 1993 , p. 192). The intended outcome of this socialisation is that children are expected to be sensitive to shame and to other
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people’s opinions, judgements, and evaluations (Fung, 1999). In addition to shaming, Ho (1986) indicated that compared to North Americn mothers, Chinese mothers used more ‘‘loveoriented’’ methods of child-rearing, such as threat of withdrawal or actual withdrawal of love (cf. T seng & Wu, 1985). Directiveness. Paental directiveness refers to taking a major responsibility in regulating children’s behaviou r and academic performance. Although somewhat akin to training ideologies found among immigrant Chinese families (Chao, 2001), the focus of this construct is on ways that mainland Chinese mothers correct young children’s behaviour. Wu (1996) noted that Chinese parents are prone to scold and criticise in attempts to control and correct young children’s behaviour, especially pushing them in academic pursuits (Kriger & Kross, 1972 ; Lin & Fu, 1990). As with parental protectiveness, directiveness may reect Chinese cultural beliefs that young children are incapable of understanding and making decisions that are in their best interest. These beliefs and practices contrast with Western democratic socialisation ideology that promotes more autonomy granting in young children (Russell, Mize, & Bissaker, in press). Although recently challenged by Chen and colleagues (1997, 2000b), the prevailing belief is that Chinese childrearing practices that reect intrusive control (or directiveness) should not be characterised as authoritarian and, thus, promoting negative child outcomes in the North American sense of the term (e.g., Baumrind, 1996 ; Chao, 1994 ; Steinberg et al., 1992). When enacted in the context of a supportive and physically close parent-child relationship, Chao (1994) has argued that Chinese children typically identify with parental training ideals that promote achievemen t and conformity to societal expectations. Maternal involvement. Historically, it is anticipated that Chinese mothers will be immensely involved and devoted to their children, especially during the early years. Chao (1994) noted that immigrant Chinese maternal involvement and sacrice may pave the road for Asian children’s high academic achievemen t in the United States. Moreover, in mainland China, Chen (1998) found three factors, which he labelled authoritative, authoritarian, and protective parenting practices. Common to all three factors, however, were items reecting maternal care and involvement . T hese ndings are consistent with traditional Chinese cultural notions of the ideal mother gure. Model Chinese mothers are often described as loving and kind (Ci Ai ), especially when the child is very young. Ideas involving the child being the sole interest and concern of the mother, being taken everywhere with the mother, and being in the constant care of the mother can be readily identied in the Chinese literature (Chao, 1994). Maternal involvement may overlap somewhat with parental protection since both reect Chinese notions of parental responsibility. However, maternal involvement denotes more salient features of a highly involved, close mother-child relationship intended to help children succeed academically, whereas parental protection is more focused on child safely and the fostering of child dependenc e on parental governance.
Differences in parenting practices between China and North America Most parenting practices emphasised in China and discussed
thus far have been somewhat peripheral to mainstream parenting style conceptualisations in North America. However, protection, directiveness, shaming/love withdrawal, and maternal involvement are parenting patterns that have been identied and studied in previous Western research (e.g. Barber, Bean, & Erikson, 2002 ; Chen et al., 1998 ; Eisenberg & Murphy, 1997 ; Rubin et al., 1999). Likewise, conforming to group norms reected in the modesty construct while simultaneously valuing individual expression is deemed important in North America (Gorman, 1998 ; T riandis, 1995). Thus, we expected to be able to measure these constructs in our North American sample. Even though measurable in both Chinese and North American samples, the degree to which these socialisation practices are emphasised may vary by culture according to meanings that are attached to them (Chao, 2001; Chen et al., 2000a). Furthermore, due to differing cultural norms and expectations, Darling and Steinberg (1993) suggested that enactment of certain parenting practices may vary across different ecologies. Given Chinese cultural values and socialisation goals, we anticipated that Chinese mothers would score higher than North American mothers on self-perception indicators of their enactment of these parenting practices.
Parenting styles in Chinese and North American contexts Baumrind’s (1971) parenting styles (e.g., authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive) have been incorporated in much of the parenting research conducted in Western societies. Although Baumrind and others (Maccoby & Martin, 1983) have identied multiple parenting typologies, for our crosscultural comparison we focused only on the authoritative and authoritarian patterns. Permissiveness was not included in our study because it has been shown to be an unreliable construct with Chinese samples and may not be appropriate in the Chinese cultural context (Chen et al., 1997; McBride-Chang & Chang, 1998). Authoritative parenting style. Authoritative parents (Baumrind, 1971, 1989, 1996 ) attempt to direct children’s activities in a rational, issue-oriented manner. T hey reason with their children, facilitate verbal give and take (Baumrind, 1989), and encourage children to think independentl y and to respond in prosocial ways (Baumrind, 1996). Also, authoritative parents are ‘‘affectively responsive’’ by being loving, supportive, and encouraging children’s individual interests (Baumrind, 1989). Thus, authoritative parenting is comprised of three distinct stylistic dimensions relevant to preschool-age children (Hart et al., in press). These are reected in (1) a high degree of warmth, nurturance, and acceptance (i.e., positive emotional connection with the child), (2) a high degree of psychological autonomy granting or democratic participation, and (3) a high degree of regulation or behavioural control that places fair and consistent limits on child behaviour, primarily through reasoning about rules and establishing consequences for misbehaviour (e.g., Barber & Olsen, 1997; Baumrind, 1996 ; Hart et al., 1992). T his study builds upon research exploring parenting styles with older children in China (Chen et al., 1997 , 2000a) by focusing on younger children. Moreover, the three stylistic dimensions of connection, regulation, and autonomy granting were included for cross-cultural comparisons (see Darling &
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Steinberg, 1993; Gray & Steinberg, 1999 ; Smetana, 1995). We anticipated that Chinese mothers would perceive themselves as engaging their children in less autonomy granting (i.e., democratic participation) and more limit setting compared with their North American counterparts. Although Chinese parenting practices reect high protection and involvement, it has been hypothesised that Chinese parents are less openly emotionally expressive of their affection than North American parents (Lin & Fu, 1990). Accordingly, our measure was designed to capture overt displays of affection and acceptance. We also expected Chinese mothers to be less demonstrative in their displays of connectedness. Authoritarian parenting style. Authoritarian parents value obedience, favour punitive and forceful measures, believe children should accept their parents’ word for what is right, and do not encourage verbal give and take (Baumrind, 1989). Authoritarian parenting style, as measured in this study, included items representing three harsh disciplinary dimensions of (1) physical coercion (e.g., physical punishment), (2) verbal hostility (e.g., yelling, arguing), and (3) nonreasoning/ punitive (e.g. punishes without explanation, threatens with no justication) that went beyond the construct of verbal scolding and criticism reected in the Chinese directiveness construct. Directive practices may or may not occur outside a climate of harshness and hostility that are denoted in authoritarian parenting styles. Past research has consistently indicated that Chinese parents are more likely than North American parents to use physical coercion and verbal hostility in parent-child interactions (Leung, Lau, & Lam, 1998 ; Steinberg et al., 1992). We anticipated similar ndings in this study. As with authoritativeness, this investigation was designed to extend our knowledge of ways that dimensions of authoritarian parenting styles are relevant in each culture (cf. Hart et al., 2000a).
of two early childhood programmes. Maternal participation rates from each classroom involved in the research were above 70% in both cultural settings. Mothers in the two samples were relatively well educated, having completed an average of 2 to 3 years of education beyond high school (Chinese: M ˆ 13.21, SD ˆ 2.44; US: M ˆ 14.00, SD ˆ 2.39). Chinese mothers had a mean age of 32.9 years (SD ˆ 3.7) and US mothers’ average age was 30.2 years (SD ˆ 5.4). T he mean age for the children in the Chinese sample was 62.6 months (SD ˆ 9.3) and the average age for US children was 57.2 months (SD ˆ 5.9).
Items comprising our parenting styles and parenting practice measures were designed to reect features of Chinese and North American child-rearing as reviewed in the literature. T he items emphasised in China were also derived, in part, from information gleaned in four informal semistructured focus group interviews in both Beijing and in the US. Each group was comprised of six to seven mothers of preschoolers. Mothers described their most important child-rearing responsibilities, what were appropriate ways to handle various hypothetical child misbehaviour scenarios, and specic concerns about helping their children conform to societal expectations. The majority of responses mapped onto parenting themes emphasised in China (as well as onto authoritative and authoritarian dimensions) in each cultural context. After these general themes were identied, mothers were asked to consider sample items derived from an item bank we had developed , borrowed, or modied from other parenting measures (e.g., Barber, 1996 ; Block, 1965 ; Chao, 1994). T hey then provided feedback as to each item’s relevance to the themes identied and helped eliminate items that were unclear or confusing. This process resulted in eliminating approximately 20% of the initial items. New items were developed when deemed necessary. Interviewing mothers helped assure that Chinese and North American parenting views mapped onto the constructs discussed in our literature review and that they were relevant to everyday parenting in both cultures. Parents involved in focus group interviews were different from those who participated in this study. Prior to pilot testing in focus groups, all items were successfully forward- and back-translated by Chinese linguists who were uent in both Chinese and English. Translators received assistance from the investigators for clarications regarding difcult-to-translate items. T hese procedures assured that the items were conceptually equivalent, meaning that they would be similarly understood by parents in both settings, even though they may carry somewhat different psychological meanings (see Berry, 1989 ; Hart et al., 1998a, 2000b). New items developed from focus group interviews were subjected to the same translation procedures. For all measures, mothers were asked to evaluate each item on the questionnaires, based on their perceptions of how they interact with their preschoolage target child.
Two samples comprised of mothers of 553 preschool-age children from two diverse cultural contexts participated in this study. Sample one included mothers of 284 children (154 boys and 130 girls) attending one of two nursery schools in Beijing, China. Sample two was from an urban moderate-sized community in the Western United States. It consisted of mothers of 237 children (121 boys and 116 girls) attending one
Parenting dimensions emphasised in North America. A version of the Parenting Styles and Dimensions Questionnaire (PSDQ; Robinson, Mandleco, Olsen, & Hart, 2001) was completed by mothers from both samples. A modied PSDQ was contrived using procedures described later and included 26 items forming two stylistic patterns of parenting: authoritative
Contributions of this research A major contribution of this investigation is that, to our knowledge, it is the rst attempt to make direct comparisons between mainland Chinese and North American cultures using invariant (comparable) measures of parenting constructs derived from multi-sample structural equation modelling (SEM) techniques. SEM procedures model measurement error and the intercorrelations among the indicators of a construct. Using SEM techniques, we sought to determine whether statistical models derived from our parent measures were invariant across cultures. T his is necessary for direct comparisons across latent constructs derived from each cultural setting (Byrne, Shavelson, & Muthe´n, 1989 ; Little, 1997 ; Widaman & Reise, 1997).
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and authoritarian. The authoritative pattern consisted of three stylistic dimensions: (1) connection—warmth/acceptance (e.g., expresses affection by hugging, kissing, etc.), seven items; (2) regulation—reasoning/induction (e.g. gives child reasons why rules should be obeyed), four items; and (c) autonomy granting—democratic participation (e.g., allows child to give input into family rules), four items. The authoritarian pattern consisted of three stylistic dimensions: (1) verbal hostility (e.g., yells and shouts when child misbehaves), three items; (2) physical coercion (e.g., spanks when child is disobedient), ve items; and (3) nonreasoning/punitive (takes away privileges with little if any explanations), three items. Mothers rated themselves on each item by assessing ‘‘how often they perceived themselves exhibiting parenting behaviours reected in each item’’ using a 5-point scale anchored by 1 (never) and 5 (always). Parenting practices emphasised in China. Parenting practices emphasised in the Chinese culture were assessed using an item bank that included 5 to 7 items representing each of the parenting constructs. Using procedures described next, this was reduced to an 18-item measure including the following constructs: encouragemen t of modesty (e.g., discourages child from showing off his/her skills and knowledge to get attention), four items; protection (e.g., expects child to be close by when playing), three items; directiveness (e.g., tells child what to do), three items; shaming/love withdrawal (e.g., tells child that he/ she should be ashamed when he/she misbehaves), four items; and beliefs about maternal involvement (e.g., a mother’s sole interest is in taking care of her children), four items. Items were rated on a 5-point scale anchored by 1 (never) and 5 (always). Items that were deemed to reect mother-child relationship ideologies concerning maternal involvement were selected from Chao’s ‘‘training’’ questionnaire (1994) administered to an immigrant Chinese sample (N ˆ 50) in the United States. Correlations between mothers’ education and the parenting constructs emphasised in the Chinese and North American cultures are shown in T able 1. The correlation pattern for the Chinese sample is that the more education the mothers have the less they report engaging in specic traditional cultural parenting constructs (i.e., maternal involvement, protection, directiveness) emphasised in China and the more they report engaging in certain parenting constructs (i.e., warmth/ Table 1 Correlations between mothers’ education and parenting constructs Mothers’ education Parenting constructs Emphasised in China Shaming/Love withdrawal Maternal involvement Protection Encouragement of modesty Directiveness Emphasised in North America Warmth/Acceptance Reasoning/Induction Democratic participation Physical coercion Verbal hostility Nonreasoning/Punitive * p 5 .05; ** p 5 .001.
¡.07 ¡.42** ¡.22* .03 ¡.34*
.16 ¡.31* .02 ¡.23* .12
.27* ¡.02 .52** ¡.10 ¡.15* ¡.02
¡.23* ¡.10 ¡.09 ¡.01 ¡.03 ¡.17*
Table 2 Confirmatory factor pattern of parenting practices emphasised in China Factor loadings Item content Encouragement of modesty Discourage child from strongly expressing his/her point of view Discourage child from proudly acknowledging compliments Discourage child from appearing overcondent Discourage child from showing off his/her skills Protection It is important to supervise all of child’s activities Expect child to be close by when playing Overly worry about child getting hurt Maternal involvement Mothers express love by helping children to succeed in school A mother’s sole interest is in taking care of her children Children should be in the constant care of their mothers Mothers should do everything for their children’s education Shaming/Love withdrawal Tell child we get embarrassed when doesn’t meet expectations Make child feel guilty when doesn’t meet our expectations Tell child that he/she should be ashamed when misbehaving Less friendly with child if he/she doesn’t see things our way Directiveness Scolds or criticises when child’s behaviour does not meet our expectations Demands child do things Tells child what to do
.52 .58 .69
.62 .66 .51
acceptance, democratic participation) emphasised in North America. For the US sample, the more education the mothers have the less they report engaging in maternal involvement , encouragemen t of modesty, nonreasoning, and warmth/involvement. These relationships should be interpreted with some caution since the education variation of mothers within each sample is somewhat restricted.
Results Measurement model of parenting practices emphasised in China Initially, we used a multi-sample conrmatory factor analysis (MCFA) procedure to test the measurement model of the ve latent constructs derived from the Chinese parenting literature (e.g., modesty encouragement, protection, directiveness, shaming/love withdrawal, and beliefs about maternal involvement). We wanted to determine whether factor loadings could be identied that were invariant across both the Chinese and US samples. T ypically, invariance of factor loadings (Little,
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Table 3 a Latent correlations of parenting practices emphasised in China for the Chinese and US samples
.21* (.02) 1.00
Protection Encourage modesty Directiveness
* p 5 .01; ** p 5 .001. a
Correlations of the constructs for the US sample are in parentheses.
1997), or at least partial invariance (Byrne et al., 1989), is essential for identifying similar constructs in order to compare latent means cross-culturally (Widaman & Reise, 1997). In order to provide the best model t and to eliminate items that did not help in meeting at least partial invariance criteria, a series of MCFA was performed (cf. Byrne, 1989; T omada & Schneider, 1997). A congurably invariant measurement model emerged that estimated the same factor structure without metric equality constraints (unconstrained) across the two samples, and served as a baseline model, which provided a fairly good t to the data: w2 (244) ˆ 364.77, p ˆ .00, w2 /df ˆ 1.45, GFI ˆ .93, T LI ˆ .88, CFI ˆ .90. T he standardised factor loadings for the baseline model are presented in T able 2. 1 A model constraining the factor loadings (except two of the modesty encouragement items) to be equal across the two samples produced a chi square that did not differ signicantly from the baseline model, w2 (11)diff ˆ 13.78, p ˆ .25. These results suggest that most of the factor loadings for the parenting constructs emphasised in China are invariant (comparable) across the two cultures. Items comprising this solution were deemed to represent the constructs well. For both the Chinese and US mothers (see Table 3), the patterns of correlations among the ve latent parenting constructs emphasised in China were relatively low (Chinese f ˆ .03 to .35; US: f ˆ .02 to .49). For both samples there was one exception, a moderately strong correlation between shaming/love withdrawal and directiveness (Chinese: f ˆ .54; US: f ˆ .66). These ndings indicate that most of these constructs are relatively independen t in both cultures. T o test whether shaming/love withdrawal and directiveness constructs are well distinguished, a four-factor model combining the items from both of these dimensions onto a single factor was compared to the ve-factor baseline model. The goodness of
1 In Structural Equation Modelling (SEM), only three or four indicators are needed in order for the measurement model to be over identied. Any more than that may be superuous (Kline, 1998). Factor loadings in this study were acceptable based on prior studies indicating that they are typically underestimated in SEM when using Likert-type scaling. This is due to the treatment of the ordinal data (Bollen, 1989; Coenders, Satorra, & Saris, 1997; Rigdon & Ferguson, 1991). Factor loadings of .40 and above are deemed reliable when sample sizes are greater than 150 (Stevens, 1996). Coefcient alpha is a questionable indicator of reliability and is not typically reported in conrmatory factor analysis (Komaroff, 1997; Schmitt, 1996).
t decreased slightly, w2 (252) ˆ 410.59, p 5 .005, w2 /df ˆ 1.62, GFI ˆ .92, TLI ˆ .84, CFI ˆ .87, and differed signicantly from the ve-factor model, w2 (8)diff ˆ 45.82, p 5 .001. Thus, the ve-factor baseline solution provided a better estimate of the parenting constructs emphasised in China for both cultures.
Measurement model of authoritative and authoritarian styles emphasised in North America As with the parenting model emphasised in China, a series of MCFA was performed (cf. Byrne, 1989 ; Tomada & Schneider, 1997), with an eye towards dropping items that did not help meet at least partial invariance criteria. Items representing an authoritative parenting style, which includes three latent constructs (warmth/acceptance, reasoning/induction, and democratic participation), were subjected to an MCFA. A similar procedure was followed for identifying the authoritarian construct dimensions (verbal hostility, physical coercion, nonreasoning/punitive). A 15-item, unconstrained three-factor model of the authoritative constructs emerged that t both the US and Chinese samples well: w2 (168) ˆ 288.40, p 5 .001, 2 w /df ˆ 1.72, GFI ˆ .93, T LI ˆ .91, and CFI ˆ .93. T he unconstrained model of the three authoritarian constructs also provided a fairly good t: w2 (76) ˆ 186.90, p 5 .001, w2 /df ˆ 2.46, GFI ˆ .94, T LI ˆ .87, and CFI ˆ .91, and was comprised of 11 items. T he cross-cultural comparability of the authoritative and authoritarian constructs was tested using the chi-square differences between the unconstrained and constrained measurement models. Factor loadings were found to be invariant across the two samples for the authoritative constructs, 2 w (12)diff ˆ 14.94, p ˆ .25, and the authoritarian constructs, 2 w (8)diff ˆ 14.48, p ˆ .07. T hus, similar constructs of authoritative and authoritarian were identied in both the North American and Chinese cultures. Standardised factor loadings for the authoritative parenting constucts are presented in T able 4, and for the authoritarian constructs in Table 5. For the authoritative stylistic pattern, the intercorrelations among the warmth/acceptance, reasoning/induction, and democratic participation latent constructs were .56, .72, and .76, respectively, for the US sample and .80, .82, and .85, respectively, for the Chinese sample. T o test whether these
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Table 4 Within-group completely standardised solution from multi-sample confirmatory factor analysis of authoritative parenting styles and dimensions emphasised in North America
Table 5 Within-group completely standardised solution from multi-sample confirmatory factor analysis of authoritative parenting styles and dimensions emphasised in North America
Factor loadings Item content: Authoritative style Warmth/Acceptance (connection) Gives praise when child is good Expresses affection by hugging, kissing, and holding child T ells child that we appreciate what he/she tries to accomplish Gives comfort and understanding when child is upset Show sympathy when child is hurt or frustrated Aware of problems or concerns about child in school Encourages child to talk about his/her troubles Reasoning/Induction (regulation) T alks it over and reasons with child when misbehaving Encourages child to talk about consequences of behaviour Explains the consequences of the child’s behaviour Gives child reasons why rules should be obeyed Democratic participation (autonomy granting) Apologises to child when making a mistake in parenting Allows child to give input into family rules T akes child’s desire into account before asking to do something Encourages child to express him/herself even when disagreeing with parents
constructs were well distinguished, a single-factor model combining the items from all three dimensions onto a single factor was compared to a three-factor baseline model. T he goodness of t decreased substantially, w2 (175) ˆ 414.95, 2 p 5 .001, w /df ˆ 2.37, GFI ˆ .90, T LI ˆ .84, CFI ˆ .86, and differed signicantly from the three-factor model, w2 (7)d iff ˆ 106.55, p 5 .001, indicating that the three-factor model was a better t of the data. For the authoritarian stylistic construct, the intercorrelations among the physical coercion, verbal hostility, and nonreasoning/punitive latent constructs were .80, .72, and .60, respectively, for the US sample and .67, .65, and .69 respectively for the Chinese sample. As with the authoritative pattern, a model combining the items from all three authoritarian dimensions onto a single factor was compared to a three-factor baseline model. The goodness of t was substantially lower, w2 (84) ˆ 297.65, p 5 .001, w2 /df ˆ 3.54, GFI ˆ .91, T LI ˆ .77, CFI ˆ .86, and differed signicantly from the three-factor model, w2 (8)diff ˆ 110.75, p 5 .001, again indicating that the three-factor model was a better t of the data.
Relations between parenting constructs emphasised in China and North America As seen in Table 6, in the US sample, correlations between parenting practice constructs emphasised in China and the latent constructs of the three authoritative stylistic parenting
Factor loadings Item content: Authoritative style Physical coercion Uses physical punishment as a way of disciplining child Spanks when child is disobedient Slaps when child misbehaves Grabs child when he/she is being disobedient Guides child by punishment more than by reason Verbal hostility Explodes in anger towards child Yells or shouts when child misbehaves Argues with child Non-reasoning/Punitive Punishes by taking privileges away with little explanation Punishes by putting child off with little or no justication When child asks why he/she has to conform, says: because I said so
.71 .71 .67 .59
.64 .58 .59 .52
.70 .62 .65
.69 .67 .51
dimensions revealed generally nonoverlappin g constructs (f ˆ ¡.39 to .15). T he strongest correlations were between warmth/ acceptance and shaming/love withdrawal (f ˆ ¡.52), and between warmth/acceptance and maternal involvemen t (f ˆ .41). In the Chinese sample, the constructs were also generally nonoverlapping (f ˆ ¡.12 to .34). T he strongest correlations were between directiveness and reasoning/induction (f ˆ .56), directiveness and warmth/acceptance (f ˆ .29), and between protection and democratic participation (f ˆ .34). Latent correlations between parenting practices emphasised in China and the three authoritarian stylistic parenting dimensions presented in Table 6 also revealed that most of the constructs were fairly independen t in the US sample (f ˆ ¡.06 to .31), with the exception of four moderately strong correlations (directiveness and physical coercion, .64; directiveness and verbal hostility, .63; directiveness and nonreasoning, .46; shaming/love withdrawal and verbal hostility, .61). There was no relationship between directiveness and verbal hostility or nonreasoning in the Chinese sample. T he generally nonoverlapping pattern with the US sample was also similar in the Chinese sample (f ˆ ¡.10 to .44). T he two moderate correlations were between shaming/love withdrawal and nonreasoning/punitive (f ˆ .44) and between directiveness and physical coercion (f ˆ .42). All of the latent correlations in Table 6 were estimated by combining the measurement models (parenting practices emphasised in China with authoritative parenting; parenting practices emphasised in China with authoritarian parenting) from the two conrmatory factor analyses.
Latent mean comparisons Ideally, cross-cultural differences in the means of the latent constructs should be compared when all factor loadings are invariant across all the cultural samples (Little, 1997 ; Widaman & Reise, 1997). As noted earlier, factor loadings for the
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Table 6 a Latent correlations between parenting practices emphasised in China and parenting dimension constructs emphasised in North America Parenting styles and dimensions emphasised in North America Authoritative style Authoritarian style Practices emphasised in China Encouragement of modesty Protection Directiveness Shaming/Love withdrawal Maternal involvement *p 5 .01; ** p 5 .001.
¡.05 (¡.30)* .23* (.14) .29* (¡.36)* .01 (¡.52)** ¡.12 (.41)**
.08 (.06) .24* (.08) .56** (¡.16) .24* (¡.23)* ¡.02 (.14)
¡.06 (¡.33)* .34* (.13) ¡.08 (¡.39)* .08 (¡.36)* .00 (.15)
¡.07 (.27)* .07 (.05) .42** (.64)** .20* (.41)** .18 (.07)
.01 (.31)* .21* (.05) ¡.10 (.63)** .14 (.61)** .16 (¡.06)
.15 (.21) .05 (.30)* .01 (.46)** .44** (.30)* .19 (.19)
Correlations of the constructs for the US sample are in parentheses.
items comprising most of the parenting constructs met this requirement, with the exception of the modesty construct. However, latent means can still be compared across samples when partial invariance of factor loadings are identied (Byrne et al., 1989). For the measurement model to be identied, the means of the observed variables were constrained to be equal across groups. Table 7 presents the latent means of the Chinese mothers for the parenting practices emphasised in China and authoritative-authoritarian stylistic dimensions with the latent means of the US mothers constrained. As can be seen from Table 7, statistically signicant differences were found for four of the parenting practice constructs emphasised in China. Chinese mothers’ latent means were higher than those of their US counterparts on encouragemen t of modesty, protection, shaming/love withdrawal, and directiveness. For the authoritative parenting stylistic dimensions, Chinese mothers’ latent means were lower on warmth/acceptance and lower on democratic participation. For the authoritarian parenting stylistic dimension Chinese mothers’ latent means were higher than those of US mothers only on the use of physical coercion.
only measurable but generally nonoverlappin g and independent in both cultures. In addition, the parenting practice constructs emphasised in China were relatively independen t from the stylistic constructs emphasised in North America. T hese ndings reinforce arguments made in the literature addressing the importance of using ecologically valid frameworks and functionally equivalent measures in cross-cultural studies (e.g., Little, 1997). Parenting is considered to be heavily inuenced by cultural background . T hus, parents within specic cultures may have varying beliefs about and use different practices in childrearing which provide a developmental niche for children living in diverse contexts (Chen et al., 1998 ; Super & Harkness, 1986). Consistent with this concept, we found that even though several parenting practice constructs derived from Table 7 Latent mean comparisons of parenting practices emphasised in China and authoritative and authoritarian parenting dimensions a emphasised in North America Chinese mothers’ latent means with US means constrained
Discussion A major contribution of this research is that a model of parenting constructs emphasised and derived empirically from indigenous Chinese cultural notions was found to be applicable for mothers in the US. This indicates that parenting practice constructs that are highly valued in China are measurable in the US, even though their role may have been emphasised less in the North American literature. For reasons noted in the Introduction, these practices, although measurable in our North American sample, are not likely to stem from the same underlying socialisation goals that are prevalent in Chinese society. Our research also suggested that a model of parenting constructs derived from global parenting styles emphasised in North America was also relevant for mainland Chinese mothers. In addition, results of latent mean comparisons suggest that Chinese and US mothers score signicantly differently from each other on most of the parenting style and practice constructs. Findings also showed that the ve parenting practice constructs emphasised in China were not
Parenting practices emphasised in China Encouragement of modesty Protection Directiveness Shaming/Love withdrawal Maternal involvement Authoritative dimensions emphasised in North America Warmth/Acceptance Reasoning/Induction Democratic participation Authoritarian dimensions emphasised in North America Physical coercion Verbal hostility Nonreasoning/Punitive
.10 .19 1.03 1.80 .03
2.92 2.66 11.86 20.62 0.48
.01 .01 .001 .001 —
¡.32 .02 ¡.15
¡6.38 0.29 ¡2.24
.001 — .05
.19 .04 .05
4.77 0.85 ¡0.47
.01 — —
a Signicant differences between latent means were determined by a critical ratio.
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF BEHAVIORAL DEVELOPMENT , 2002, 26 (6), 481–491
Chinese cultural notions could also be empirically identied in the US sample, signicant cultural differences in parenting existed between these two cultures. For example, one distinctive feature unique to parenting practices emphasised in China involves the strong focus on modesty and cooperation among young children. Our results indicate that Chinese mothers perceived themselves as engaging in greater modesty encouragement than US mothers. These ndings support those who argue that modesty is more valued in collectivist societies (Triandis, 1995), where individuals are encouraged to restrain their personal desires for the benet and interests of the society at large (Chen et al., 1998). In addition to modesty, shaming/love withdrawal is viewed as a dominant moral training technique for achieving specic socialisation goals requiring members in the Chinese society to acquire sensitivity to shame and to be aware of other person’s opinions, judgements, and evaluations. Thus, the goal of shaming/love withdrawal may be to motivate the child to take responsibility for his/her own actions (Fung, 1999). Since shaming/love withdrawal may be more positively valued in the Chinese culture, it is not difcult to understand why Chinese mothers in this study report using this pattern of parenting more often than US mothers. The current study also indicates that Chinese mothers view themselves as being more protective with their young children than US mothers. T his result is largely consistent with previous reports and speculations in the literature (e.g., Chen et al., 1998 ; Kriger & Kross, 1972; Lin & Fu, 1990). Chen (in press) suggested that high parental protectiveness appears to t the Chinese culture since it is associated with children’s behavioural inhibition, which is considered an adaptive outcome in Chinese society. In contrast, shy and inhibited behaviours are regarded as socially immature and maladaptive in North American individualistic cultures (Rubin & Asendorpf, 1993), and are often responded to with overprotective parenting (Rubin et al., 1999). Thus, protective parenting, which may lead to maladaptive outcomes for Western children, may be negatively valued and discouraged in an individualistic culture where independen t exploratory behaviour is more highly encouraged. Similar to protectiveness, it was anticipated that Chinese mothers would report exhibiting more directiveness with their children than US mothers. Our ndings are consistent with those of others who found Chinese mothers placing high demands on their children’s after-school activities (Wu, 1996 ) and using scolding and criticisms to foster self-control (Lin & Fu, 1990). In the US, directive parenting is linked to Baumrind’s conceptualisation of an authoritarianism style (Robinson, Mandleco, Olsen, & Hart, 1995 ) and, thus, may be viewed negatively by more educated parents who value autonomy granting with their children (Rodgers, 1998 ; Russell et al., in press). Surprisingly, we found no signicant cultural differences on the belief construct of maternal involvement using four items from Chao’s (1994) original Chinese Child-Rearing Ideology Items . Chao did nd a cultural difference in studying immigrant Chinese mothers in the US on two of the four items making up this construct. Our noncultural difference on this construct may be due to a greater equality in parental roles for parents in mainland China. Since 1950, the laws of the People’s Republic of China have emphasised the joint responsibility of fathers and mothers for child-rearing (Chen et al., 2000a). In addition, as many mainland Chinese mothers
as fathers have been employed outside the home. Thus, both the ofcial ideology and the high rate of maternal employment might encourage more equal parenting (Berndt, Cheung, Lau, Hau, & Lew, 1993). As a result, Chinese mothers may be less likely to endorse sole maternal responsibility for child-rearing. Our ndings suggest that even though social changes have taken place in mainland China during the last two decades, current parenting beliefs and practices may still be inuenced by some Confucian traditions. For example, the Confucian tradition of social order emphasises developing harmonious interpersonal relationships. Likewise, in contemporary Chinese society, children are encouraged to be sensitive, modest, and cooperative (‘‘Guai Hai Zi’’) or ‘‘well-behaved’’ (Chen, 1998). Our ndings that Chinese mothers score higher on modesty encouragemen t support the continued inuence of Confucian ideals even though they may not be directly connected by parents to Confucianism in modern China (cf. Lau & Yeung, 1996). Our results also support Wolf ’s (1970) assertion that cultural child-rearing practices evolve slowly and ‘‘practices among Chinese are not particularly open to Western inuences and are more likely to accurately reect traditional goals and values’’ (p. 39). T hus, one implication for future researchers is the need to explore further the impact of Confucian principles on family interactions and relationships to better understand socialisation processes in the Chinese family. As far as cultural notions of parenting constructs emphasised in North America are concerned, this study also contributes to the literature by examining empirically derived stylistic dimensions of authoritative and authoritarian parenting rather than just overall parenting styles. Even though our results from the multi-sample conrmatory factor analysis indicate that there are broad commonalities between the US and Chinese samples in the basic overall structures of authoritative and authoritarian parenting, as anticipated, Chinese mothers scored signicantly higher on physical coercion and lower on warmth/acceptance and democratic participation than did US mothers. Our ndings of higher reported levels of physical coercion in the Chinese sample are consistent with many previous studies examining overall authoritarian parenting (e.g. Chao, 1994 ; Chen et al., 1997). Also, our results indicating that Chinese mothers scored lower on warmth/acceptance are consistent with those of Chen et al. (1998), who reported that Chinese mothers scored signicantly lower on acceptance than their Caucasian counterparts in Canada (cf. Lin & Fu, 1990). Our ndings, however, are less consistent with those of Chao (1994), who found that immigrant Chinese mothers in the US did not score lower on overall authoritativeness than Caucasion mothers. Since parenting does not take place in a cultural vacuum, one could speculate that immigrant Chinese mothers may be inuenced by some parenting notions emphasised in the North American culture. One benet of studying specic parenting practices and stylistic dimensions is that cultural specic patterns may emerge. For example, our ndings indicated that for US mothers, a positive relationship was found between shaming/ love withdrawal and verbal hostility. This relationship was not apparent for Chinese mothers. Thus suggests that the practice of shaming children towards particular socialisation goals in China may be viewed quite differently from verbally hostile parenting styles that are more reective of a pervasive interactional climate. US mothers, however, may view both
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verbal hostility and shaming/love withdrawal as being similarly associated as part of the interactional climate of the home (cf. Barber, 1996). Likewise, directive practices were associated with verbal hostility and nonreasoning/punitive authoritarian parenting in our North American sample but not in the Chinese sample. Yet, directiveness was associated with reasoning/induction and warmth/acceptance in the Chinese but not in the US sample. This reinforces the view that directiveness may serve a different function in Chinese society in ways noted in our Introduction (i.e. used for teaching self-control rather than for punishing). Also supporting conceptualisations in the Introduction, directiveness was related to maternal involvement in the Chinese but not in the US sample. Yet, directiveness was associated with less autonomy granting (democratic participation) in the US but not in the Chinese sample. This suggests that maternal involvemen t and directiveness may go hand in hand with Chinese mothering to foster dependenc e in young children. However, US mothers appear to emphasise less directive approaches in an attempt to foster more autonom y than dependenc y in their involvement with preschoolers. Similar to other studies of this nature (e.g., Chao, 1994), this study is limited by the sole use of self-report data gathered from parents. Although some studies have indicted moderate agreement between observational and self-report measures of parenting (e.g. Kochanska, Kuczynski, & Radke-Yarrow, 1989 ; Pettit, Clawson, Dodge, & Bates, 1996), future research could benet by using multi-method assessments that incorporate observational methodologies as well (e.g., Chen et al., 1998). As a further note of caution, one should keep in mind that mean differences in self-ratings could be due to response sets reecting different societal norms. T his may result in selfratings that do not reect a common metric across cultures (Triandis, 1995). For example, in Confucian societies, there is the doctrine of the mean (Zong Yong Ahi Dao in Mandarin), which encourages the avoidanc e of extremes. Thus, Chinese mothers may have rated their own parenting more in accordance with culturally inuenced norms than in accordance with their actual behaviour. Notwithstanding this possibility, ndings were consistent with prior research in this area. Because it is unclear to what extent response bias may have inuenced the results of this investigation, observational studies would be helpful for validating our ndings. Another limitation is that the samples represented more highly educated mothers from urban areas in both cultural contexts. In addition, it cannot be assumed that ndings from samples from the specic cities/areas within the cultures (Intermountain US West and Beijing) can be generalised to the larger North American and Chinese culture (see Lai, Zhang, & Wang, 2000). This does not allow our conclusions to be generalised to families representing more diverse socioeconomic and ethnic background s in both cultures. Despite these limitations, our ndings build upon prior work by further rening conceptual frameworks for understanding parenting constructs emphasised in China that pertain to parents of young children. The next step would be to investigate further how these parenting patterns are associated with specic child outcomes in each cultural setting and build upon the work that has already been conducted in this area regarding some of these constructs (e.g., Chen et al., 1997 ; 1998; 2000b; Olsen et al., 2002). T his would compliment recent research exploring invariant measures of child outcomes in Chinese and North American settings (Hart et al., 2000b).
In summary, the results of this study suggest that both US and Chinese parenting may include parenting practices emphasised in the Chinese cultural tradition as well as parenting style dimensions emphasised in North America. Even though these parenting constructs are measurable in both cultures, future research should continue to include both an emic (arising from the culture) and etic (similar across cultures) approach to further investigate the underlying philosophies that may differentiate ways that these parenting constructs are enacted in diverse cultural settings (Berry, 1989). Manuscript received July 2000 Revised manuscript received October 2001
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