Child-Rearing Practices in Chinese and American Cultures

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Child-Rearing Practices in Chinese and American Cultures
The generally accepted way in which children in a society are raised, constitutes its philosophical and social child rearing practice. Child-rearing research has focused on understanding differences in parent’s beliefs and values, characteristics of cultural socialization, and the implications of such variations. “Chinese parents traditionally stress their authority over their children and expect unquestioning obedience from them” (Chiu 1987). In America, a parent’s main focus is what they should do for their children to help them succeed in life; Chinese parents raise their children to do what is best for their parents and society. Significant differences were found in Chinese, Immigrant Chinese, and American child-rearing practices. Typically, Chinese child-rearing is considered Authoritarian, while Immigrant Chinese seem to be more Authoritative, and Americans, a mix of Authoritative and Permissive. The extreme cultural and historical differences between China and America directly affect the way these societies teach and train their children, having benefits and detriments to both.

Chinese families traditionally raise their children based on Confucius’ teachings, which emphasize the virtues of filial piety, parental control, obedience, strict discipline, respect for elders, and reverence for tradition. They also emphasize the obligations to family and the importance of education. This style of parenting is also known as authoritarian parenting. “Authoritarian parenting is characterized by attempts to shape and control the child according to absolute standards, placing high value on obedience and respect for authority, and discouraging reciprocal parent-child communication”(Lieber, Fung & Wing-Leung Leung, 2006). Even though Chinese parents are known to use Authoritarian parenting, the early years of childhood are seen much different. Mothers use these few years of childhood to grow close to the children, constantly holding and nurturing the child, and sharing the same bed. Mothers maintain close supervision over all of their children’s activities, carefully selecting their playmates, and rarely leaving them alone (Chiu, 1987).

Around the age of 5, the child is taught discipline and the parents control the child’s conduct and behavior. Parents “train” their children through monitoring, regular reminders, modelling, and other social learning strategies. Expectations of children are high, and failure to meet these standards can evoke relatively harsh responses. However, these strategies for discipline or behavior control are non-physical, and out of genuine caring and love for the child. As D.Y.H Wu (1981) stated, “A most “abusive” parent is one who does not discipline/train his/her child – “drowning the child with love”. It is a parent’s responsibility and social obligation to train the child to be sensitive to moral and social rules and the complex meaningfulness of shame.” (Lieber, Fung & Wing-Leung Leung, 2006). Shame is a highly used tool in child-rearing techniques in China. Shame is an important aspect of Chinese people’s emotional lives and guiding their behavior in many social settings. It puts a constant fear in children to make the right choices, and to have a successful, admirable career to avoid putting shame on their family.

American children are raised with the idea of individualism, which differs from Chinese cultures, which place importance on the group and what is best for society. American society lacks a sense of tradition, and children are raised differently depending on their social class. Parents that were raised in the middle class or upper class of the society tend to teach their children social etiquette. Many mothers are able to stay home with their children or have enough money to provide proper child care or education (Artisan, 2006). Parents of the working class have less time to spend with their children, due to their jobs,...
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