Parental and Other Caretaker Roles

For much of Chinese history, the family was organized around an ideology of filial piety that encouraged total obedience, respect, and loyalty toward the father. By controlling the distribution of the family inheritance, a father could affect a special, if not psychological, dependency on the part of the child. On the other hand, a mother's parenting style was seen as much a result of being considered an "outsider" as it was of a "natural" attachment fostered through childbirth and early child-care. Given her lower status in her husband's family, the mother needed a friend, an ally, and what better one than her own child. In this way, the different access to and use of economic and psychological "resources" contributed to the elaboration of the two complementary parenting styles: the father as an aloof spouse and disciplinary provider, and the mother as an equally aloof spouse but, toward her children, an intimate nurturer.

Chinese have a clear sense of gender-specific duties. This sense is patterned by the setting, timing, and manner of parental interaction with the child. A child's age and sex affected the frequency and style of parental interaction. There are several developmental stages of parent-child interaction: early infancy, late infancy (yinger), and early childhood (ertong). During the infant stage the mother is the more involved parent, whereas the father's involvement increases when the child reaches the childhood stage (3-6 years old). This is especially so if the father is highly educated.

There are gender differences in parent-child caretaking styles. For example, women typically hold a child close to their body, while men hold the child away from their body. Mothers and fathers also differed in their degree of patience toward a stubborn child who refuses to move. Mothers waited twice as long before picking up a recalcitrant child. Men and women also differ in their style of walking with their child. Women rarely walked ahead of the child, while men did. The style of conversation also differs between mothers and fathers. If a mother holds the child she rarely talks to it, but as soon as she starts walking, she breaks into a continuous mode of verbal coaching and patter (this pattern is less common in southwest China). The mother cares for a sick child, dresses the child for school, and scolds the child when he or she misbehaves. The father remains somewhat aloof and only enters into the disciplinary role when something serious occurs. As a child enters late childhood parents are sensitive about touching him or her in public. This is especially so for father-daughter relations but not for mother-son interaction.

Joy Of Modern Parenting Collection

Joy Of Modern Parenting Collection

This is a collection of parenting guides. Within this collection you will find the following titles: Issues, rule and discipline, self esteem and tips plus more.

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