Perceived Parental Guan and School Adjustment Among Chinese Early Adolescents: The Moderating Role of Interdependent Self-Construal

Background

In the past decades, China has experienced a rapid economic growth which resulted in benefits and increased wealth for its population. Yet, these changes also raised pressure and competition, especially among the young generations. Previous research suggests that supportive parenting is positively related to adolescents’ academic and psychological functioning. However, most extant research has focused on parenting styles observed in Western countries, whereas less is known about the role of culturally specific parenting dimensions in Eastern countries such as China. Despite the relevance of both parenting styles and the self for early adolescents’ developmental outcomes, little is known about how these factors may explain school adjustment among students in Mainland China. In addition, knowledge about the differential role of mothers and fathers in this association is scarce. The present study aimed to extend current research by investigating the contribution of perceived maternal and paternal parenting style (i.e., maternal and paternal guan) to Chinese early adolescents’ school-based social competence and levels of academic performance, postulating moderation by interdependent self-construal.

Method

A total of 148 early adolescents (48.6% girls) aged between 10 and 13 years (M = 11.06; SD = 0.90) were involved in the current study, and they were asked to fill in a battery of self-report questionnaires. Moreover, teachers rated their students’ school-related social competence, while academic grades were obtained from school records. To test the hypothesized associations between parental guan, interdependent self-construal, and the two facets of school adjustment (i.e., social competence and academic grades), path analysis was conducted.

Results

Linear regression models controlling for age, gender, and socioeconomic status showed that maternal guan was positively associated with social competence. Furthermore, interdependent self-construal moderated the link between maternal guan and school adjustment. Specifically, high levels of ISC were found to enhance the positive relation between perceived maternal guan and both social competence and academic performance. However, no significant associations were found for paternal guan.

Conclusion

Our study suggests that paternal and maternal guan hold differential roles in Chinese early adolescents’ school adjustment, and underscore the centrality of mothers in the childrearing process within Chinese families. Most importantly, interdependent self-construal, a pronounced trait in collectivistic societies, is an important factor which boosts the positive link between maternal guan parenting and early adolescents’ school adjustment. Therefore, school-based training programs aiming to enhance interdependent self-construal may be useful to ensure Chinese early adolescents’ successful adaptation and facilitate developmental transitions.

Contact: xiaoyu.lan@phd.unipd.it

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