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Sharing the roles of motherhood: Coparenting in Chinese families in various countries.

Chuang, S. S., de Leon, K. J., Huang, C. Y., Shen, C. T., Glozman, J., Lentini, B. A., & Feng, J. Y. (2015, August). Sharing the roles of motherhood: Coparenting in Chinese families in various countries. Paper presented at the American Psychological Association, Toronto, ON.


With the significant Chinese population in China and around the world, it is important to gain a more accurate portrayal of family functioning and relationships in Chinese households. Our presentation will focus on: a brief history of Chinese parenting as the country’s culture needs to be taken into consideration, and some of our findings on young Chinese families in Canada, China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Briefly, Confucius believed that individuals are based on relationships and that each member (in the family and society) needed to have a clear understanding of his or her “proper place.” Fathers were the “master of the family”; primary breadwinners and responsible for issues outside of the household. Mothers were responsible for the household and raising of children. Women were equated to crocks who were unteachable and it was believed that “a girl without intelligence and talent is one of integrity.” With the transformation of gender equality (maternal education, employment, governmental policies on equality for women and children), transformations and significant changes in societal roles inevitably affected the dynamics and relationships in families. Now, women were then seen as equal with governmental ads such as “women hold up half the sky” and “whatever men comrades can accomplish, women comrades can do too.”

In our studies, mothers and fathers of one- and three-year-olds were interviewed about their perspectives of parental roles in the family. They also individually recalled two 24-hour accounts of their days which provided great insight into their everyday lives. Regardless of maternal employment, “motherhood” was shared with fathers. Fathers, especially Chinese Canadians, were actively involved in all aspects of their children’s lives, including caregiving, playing, and training their behaviours. Both mothers and fathers acknowledged the fathers in making child-care decisions, and at times, conceding to fathers when disagreements about childcare arose. 

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