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A Taiwanese Perspective on Parent-Child Relationships: Dyad and Triad Interactions

Kevin J de Leon, Soar Huang, Susan S Chuang, April C.T. Shen, &Joyce Yen Feng(2015). A Taiwanese Perspective on Parent-Child Relationships: Dyad and Triad Interactions2015 APA Annual Convention (2015/8/6-9).


Using within-group designs allow researchers to investigate the impact of cultural factors on particular issues and to examine whether these ³mainstream´constructs and findings are applicable to minority groups. Although there has been greater attention on Asian families, the samples have primarily been from Mainland China, with a dearth on Taiwanese families. Taiwan is of particular interest since its culture has been perceived as vastly different from westernized societies and culturally transformed differently than China. Our understanding of Asian family socialization and Chinese child development are grounded in Confucianism. Confucian teachings have clear gender roles where fathers should not be concerned with issues inside of the house. They should be distant and aloof. ³Strict father, warm mother´is also a traditional adage. After the Kuomintang overthrow in 1949, the Taiwan government continued to enforce explicit methods of preserving the traditional culture. However, fathering researchers stress the importance that fathers play in their children¶s lives and that they have unique contributions to their children¶s development. To date, few studies have examined fathering in Taiwan, all using questionnaires and rating systems for father involvement. Although valuable, these methodologies limit our understanding of fathering and provide a superficial view of what fathers are doing in everyday life events. The use of Time Diaries, where respondents are asked to provide two, 24-hour accounts of their days (workday, non-workday), is one of the best ways to measure father (and parental/individual) involvement. First, parents are not explicitly aware of the purpose of the task, reducing social desirability. Second, the use of time (hours, minutes) is a more objective measure (instead of ratings which can be anchored differently and subjectively). Although this method is extremely time-consuming (coding every minute along various coding systems such as activity, persons involved), the wealth of information is valuable. The present study included 58 two-parent middle-class families from Taipei, Taiwan. Parents were asked to individually fill out Time Diaries on two same days (last workday, non-workday), including what they were doing, with who, and where (e.g., playing with child and spouse). Based on Lamb et al.¶s model on father involvement, our analyses focused the dimensions of engagement (play, care) and accessibility. Parents were accessible to their children; mothers were more accessible workdays whereas fathers were more accessible on nonworkdays (see Table1). Specifically, mothers did 81.94% of the household chores during the workdays and 77.27% on non-workdays but they were relatively similar in the cooking duties. Fathers engaged in various caregiving duties, and not surprisingly, mothers spent more time in caregiving. Both parents also spent time in teaching their children. Children played with both parents on both days, with mothers playing more than fathers. However, past research found that one of the roles of fathers is playmate, which has never been claimed for mothers. With the use of time diaries, we have greater insights into the everyday lives of young Taiwanese families. These findings challenge the assumptions of the Confucian influence on Taiwanese families, showcasing the major cultural shift and transformation in Taiwan. 

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