Similarities and differences in mothers’ parenting of preschoolers in China and the United States


parenting in United States, parenting in China


This investigation was designed to extend the work of Chao (1994) by examining parenting constructs emphasised in the Chinese culture in conjunction with parenting constructs derived and emphasised in North America. Mothers of preschool-age children from mainland China (N = 284) and the United States (N = 237) completed two self-report parenting questionnaires. One assessed dimensions of parenting practices emphasised in China (encouragement of modesty, protection, directiveness, shaming/love withdrawal, and maternal involvement). The second measured specific stylistic dimensions within Baumrind’s global conceptualisations of authoritative (warmth/acceptance, reasoning/induction, democratic participation) and authoritarian (physical coercion, verbal hostility, nonreasoning/punitive) parenting. Mostly invariant factor structures were obtained across cultures for both measures. Results showed that the five parenting constructs emphasised in China were mostly nonoverlapping and independent in both cultures. In addition, the parenting constructs emphasised in China were relatively independent from the constructs emphasised in North America. As anticipated, Chinese mothers scored higher than US mothers on all parenting constructs emphasised in China except maternal involvement. For parenting constructs emphasised in North America, Chinese mothers scored lower than US mothers on warmth/acceptance and democratic participation, but scored higher on physical coercion.

Original Publication Citation

Wu, P., Robinson, C.C., *Yang, C., Hart, C.H., Olsen, S.F., Porter, C.L., Jin, S., Wo, J., & *Wu, X. (2002). Similarities and differences in mothers’ parenting of preschoolers in China and the United States. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 26, 481-491.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


International Journal of Behavioral Development




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor