Do Chinese and American Children's Interpretations of Parenting Moderate Links between Perceived Parenting and Child Adjustment?

Linda A. Camras, Keping Sun, Yan Li, Michelle Faye Wright

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Objective. The researchers in this study investigated whether Chinese and American children's interpretations of parents' coercive authority assertion moderate relations between their self-reported parenting and adjustment. Associations between child adjustment and parents' shaming and critically comparing children to their peers were also investigated. Design. Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders (M ages = 11.73, 12.74, and 13.78 years, respectively) residing in Shanghai (n = 150) and Chicago (n = 168) rated possible motivations for coercive authority assertion, indicated whether they approved of it, and reported their parents' coercive authority assertion, critical comparison and shaming, as well as their own depression, antisocial behavior, and school effort. Results. Children in both cultures indicated that parents practiced coercive authority assertion to benefit their children more than themselves. Yet approval ratings were low. Approval of coercive authority assertion and the child-beneficial interpretation moderated relations between parents' coercive authority assertion and depression in both cultures. For American children, relations between parents' coercive authority assertion and both antisocial behavior and school effort were moderated by a social conventional interpretation. Critical comparison and shaming, and parents' coercive authority assertion were associated with poorer adjustment in both cultures. Conclusions. Chinese and American children believe parents are well-meaning but misguided in their practice of coercive authority assertion. Children's approval and interpretations can moderate parents' coercive authority assertion's links to psychosocial and academic functioning. Critical comparison and shaming is also associated with poorer adjustment in both cultures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-327
Number of pages22
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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