Objective. The present study examined specific situations in which European American and Chinese immigrant mothers to the United States expressed warmth and control with their young children. Design. Ninety-four European American and 90 Chinese immigrant mothers of children ages 3–6 from middle-class families were interviewed. Results. European American and Chinese immigrant mothers viewed children’s independence, educational, social, emotional, and moral development as important. Specifically, mothers from both cultural groups discussed expressing warmth toward their children when: (1) structuring their children’s daily schedules and routines, (2) doing activities with their children, (3) their children experience difficulties, (4) being close, showing intimacy and communicating with their children, (5) their children engage in positive behaviors, and (6) educating their children. Mothers also similarly discussed utilizing control when: (1) structuring their children’s daily schedules and routines, (2) ensuring their child’s safety, (3) their children engage in difficult behaviors, (4) their children interact with others, (5) educating their children, and (6) their children experience moral-related issues. However, mothers differentially endorsed four out of six situations of when they expressed warmth and four out of six situations of when they exerted control. Specifically, European American mothers emphasized expressing warmth and control about Western cultural values of individuality, open-expression, and respect. In contrast, Chinese immigrant mothers emphasized expressing warmth and control about psychological interdependence and Confucian-based values of group harmony and child obedience. Conclusions. This study highlights culturally shared and distinct socialization priorities that European American and Chinese immigrant mothers emphasize during early childhood.
Year of publication
Parenting: Science and Practice