Parenting in the Asian Context

Much of the research on parenting styles and its effects on children and adolescents were conducted using Western samples.  There was limited research on parenting styles done with Asian or non-Caucasian samples (Ang & Goh, 2006).   However, based on a review of existing literature done by Ang and Goh (2006), it appears that the authoritarian parenting style is not universally related to having negative adolescent outcomes, especially when looking into non-Caucasian samples.

Ang and Goh’s (2006) study consisted of 548 adolescent ages between 12 and 15, inclusive, in two middle schools in Singapore.  The study was interested in investigating the effect of authoritarian parenting on the attitude towards school, and attitude towards teachers.  They measured the adolescents’ perception of parenting styles experienced using the Parental Authority Questionnaire (PAQ), the youngsters’ self-esteem and attitudes using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSE) and Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC); before categorizing them into those who perceived their mothers as having an authoritarian parenting style (N=289, mean age = 12.56), and those who perceived their fathers as having an authoritarian parenting style (N=262, mean age =12.56).  The study uncovered that under adolescent who perceived their parents as having an authoritarian parenting bend, there were two subgroups – a well adjusted cluster, and a maladjusted cluster.  The maladjusted cluster was characterized as having low self-esteem, poor self reliance, poor interpersonal relations, and a heightened sense of inadequacy.  The well-adjusted cluster exhibited high self-esteem, high self-reliance, good interpersonal relations and a low sense of inadequacy.  Thus, this provides support that authoritarian parenting style is not universally associated with negative personal, social and school-related adolescent outcomes, especially with Asian samples.

In the study for Chen et al. (1997), the participants were 304 children in China with a mean age of 7 years and 11 months.  Teachers completed a measure concerning children’s school-related competence and problems.  Parents of the children in each class were invited to come to the school and requested to complete a set of questionnaires measuring child rearing practices and a survey of background information.   Information on children’s social achievement and academic achievement in Chinese and mathematics was obtained from school administrative records.  They found that authoritarian parenting was significantly and negatively associated with shyness-social inhibition; counter to the findings that authoritarian practice positively predicts shy, restrained, and reticent behavior in Western children.  This difference in findings was attributed to cultural difference.  While shy, anxious, and restrained behavior may be considered socially incompetent, and immature, indicative of internalizing problems in the West (Achenbach & Edelbrock, 1981); such behaviors are regarded as understanding and well-behaved in the Chinese culture.  Congruent to the aforementioned argument, shyness-inhibition was found to be positively associated with sociability-competence and peer social preference.

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