Social and emotional parenting: Mothering in a changing Chinese society

Niobe Way, Sumie Okazaki, Jing Zhao, Joanna J. Kim, Xinyin Chen, Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Yueming Jia, Huihua Deng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chua's (2011) book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother generated vigorous debate regarding its description of "Chinese" parenting ideology and practices. In this article, the authors analyzed the narratives from 24 Chinese mothers of middle school students in Nanjing, China to explore their parenting ideology and practices. In sharp distinction to the "Tiger Mother" image, our analysis indicated that although all mothers wanted their children to do well in school, their primary goals were focused on raising socially and emotionally well-adjusted children who had the capacity to be self-sufficient and gainfully employed in the future. With few exceptions, the mothers' strategies for achieving these goals included providing their children the freedom to make their own decisions and not forcing their children to engage in particular activities. These strategies were based on their concerns for the children's short-term and long-term happiness as well as a perception that the way they were raised was no longer relevant to raising their children; consequently, the mothers allowed their children more autonomy and control to forge their own path than the mothers themselves were allowed as children. Our findings draw attention to the social, political, and economic context of China and how this changing context is shaping parenting goals and practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-70
Number of pages10
JournalAsian American Journal of Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Adolescents
  • Chinese
  • Mothers
  • Parenting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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