Interpretations of Parenting by Mainland Chinese and U.S. American Children

<p><b><i>Objective</i></b>. This study examined whether mainland Chinese and U.S. American children’s interpretations of their parents’ coercive authority assertion and critical comparison and shaming moderate relations between their reports of parenting and adjustment. <b><i>Design</i></b>. Middle-school children from mainland China (<i>n</i> = 217) and the United States (<i>n</i> = 207) rated their parents on coercive authority assertion and critical comparison and shaming, indicated whether they approved of their parents’ practices, rated their parents’ underlying intentions, and reported their own depression, antisocial behavior, and school motivation. <b><i>Results</i></b>. Moderation analyses showed that associations between coercive authority assertion or critical comparison and shaming and child depression were stronger for American and Chinese children whose approval ratings for these practices were relatively low. Greater coercive authority assertion was related to lower antisocial behavior for children who rated their parents high for the child beneficial interpretation and to lower school motivation for children who rated their parents low for the parent beneficial interpretation. For American children, greater coercive authority assertion also was related to greater depression for those who rated their parents relatively low for the child beneficial interpretation. For Chinese children, greater critical comparison and shaming was related to increased school motivation for those who rated their parents high on the child beneficial and/or parent beneficial interpretations. <b><i>Conclusions</i></b>. When children interpret their parents’ behavior in a more positive manner (i.e., they approve or think it is motivated by concern for the child), negative effects of coercive authority assertion and critical comparison and shaming may be mitigated. However, some cultural differences were found, particularly with respect to school motivation.</p>