Huang, C.-Y. (2015) Cross-cultural differences in the use of disciplinary methods among Chinese, immigrant Chinese and English mothers. In Benjamin Voyer, Pawel Boski, Patrick Denoux, Bill Gabrenya & Christine Roland-Lévy (Eds) Unity, Diversity and Culture. (Submitted)
Researchers have long studied parenting practices, and have recently paid increasing attention to cross-cultural differences. As the largest ethnic and national group in the world, Chinese practices have begun to attract an increasing amount of attention within the last two decades, with considerable focus on the efforts made by expatriates to maintain their heritage culture while adjusting to host cultures. Unfortunately, most researches have only examined self-report data: Studies including both self-report and observational data are still very rare. The goal of this study was to further our understanding of Chinese parenting by observing and interviewing Chinese mothers in Taiwan, Chinese immigrant mothers in the UK, and non-immigrant white English mothers.
The participants included 89 mothers (30 Taiwanese, 30 immigrant Chinese in the UK, and 29 English) of 5- to 7-year-old children. Mothers in these three groups were matched with respect to the age and gender of their children, family SES (based on parental occupation and parents’ level of education) and children’s birth order. Participants completed parenting questionnaires (Wu et al., 2002) and provided additional information about the family backgrounds. The mother and child dyads were also observed at home in a 10-minute long toys clean-up task. The mother-child interaction was video-recorded and then analysed by trained researchers.
Cultural differences were found between groups in reported as well as observed parenting. The Taiwanese mothers reported greater use of Chinese-specific parenting and physical coercion and were observed to use more (gentle and assertive) physical intervention than both the Chinese immigrant and English mothers. The Chinese immigrant mothers reported a higher degree of child autonomy than the Taiwanese and English mothers, and also reported cultivation of their children’s independence.
These findings provided valuable insights into parenting in different cultural contexts. The results underscored the importance of examining both reported and observed behavior, highlighting the need to look at human development from a holistic perspective.