Differentiating Ideals Versus Practices in the Discussion of Confucian Influences on Chinese Parent–Child Relationships

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The primary purpose of this essay is to call for a renewed understanding of Confucianism in the discussion of Chinese parent-child relationships. Citing historical evidence, we present the evolution of Confucianism as a school of thought in China. In addition, we present research on Chinese parent–child relationships, which to a varying degree are said to be associated with Confucian influences, in contemporary Chinese communities. By comparing Confucian ideals versus practices in the name of Confucianism, we conclude that Confucianism has been through transformations throughout history and its influences on Chinese parent–child relationships are intertwined with practical needs of the specific historical time and social context. In addition, we suggest focusing on social class variability in the study of Confucian influences represented in parent–child relationships. To conclude, it is important to study the actual beliefs and practices of families, taking into consideration to specific historical time, social contexts, as well as individual circumstances and characteristics of participants.

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Online Readings in Psychology and Culture