In Search of the Confucian Family: Interviews With Parents and Their Middle School Children in Guangzhou, China

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This article presents findings from interviews with 16 middle school students and their parents in Guangzhou, China, about parent-adolescent relationships. Themes revealed from the conversations suggested that adolescents were generally pleased with the good relationships with their parents, that they enjoyed the respect their parents had for them as their parents tended to use peaceful reasoning to communicate parental expectations, and that they themselves cared a lot about academic attainment because it would lead to good jobs in the future. In addition, working-class parents expressed a sense of inadequacy while holding on to the high hopes and expectations for their children, whereas middle-class parents and parents who had middle-class experiences either in their occupation or in their education tried to raise well-rounded children apart from emphasis on academic achievement. In sum, these parents and adolescents represented a generation that was influenced by a myriad of social forces in modern China, including Confucianism, Socialism, and Capitalism, instead of simply and solely by classical Confucianism. In other words, Confucianism, along with the lifestyle that supported it, was far less salient than assumed in a lot of research on Chinese families and parent-child relationships.

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Journal of Adolescent Research