Parental and Other Caretaker Roles

As parents, the roles played by Chinese men and women were different. The job of a father was to bring food to his family. Because he worked outside the house, the time he spent with his children was limited. The mother was in charge of the activities inside the house; she took care all the needs of young children.

When sons were old enough, the father would teach them different types of agricultural skills. The father also made decisions regarding his children's education, although sometimes with input from his wife. Some men of gentry families tutored their children, including daughters, at home.

Except in the area of education, a father spent little time with his daughters. It was the mother's duty to teach a daughter proper behaviors and domestic tasks. She would set the rules for the daughter, making decisions on when and how to bind the girl's feet and how to limit her activities. To keep a daughter from public observation by confining her inside the house was an important means of securing her marriageability.

Parents believed that it would be shameful for unmarried boys and girls to think or talk about selecting marriage partners; they took it as their duty to make marriage arrangements for all their children.

Immigrant women often took jobs that could accommodate their household responsibilities, which allowed time to take care of the children. An immigrant mother would try to instill in her daughter traditional concepts about women's proper place, but confinement of the daughters became increasingly difficult. As the daughters entered high school or college, it became impossible for the mothers to watch their comings and goings.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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