2011 October 01 Saturday
Chinese Kids Feel More Obliged Toward Parents?

Do American kids start losing the feeling of obligation toward their parents in 7th grade?

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. According to a new study, American, but not Chinese, children's sense of responsibility to their parents tends to decline in the seventh and eighth grades, a trend that coincides with declines in their academic performance.

The study, in the journal Child Development, found no difference between American and Chinese students' feelings of responsibility to their parents at the beginning of the seventh grade. The American children's sense of obligation to their parents and desire to please them by doing well in school declined over the next two years, however, while the Chinese students generally maintained their feelings of obligation and increased their motivation to please their parents with their academic achievements.

It would be interesting to compare children in Mennonite, Amish, and other more socially or physically isolated communities in America and other Western countries. Does isolation from some elements of American culture prevent this change attitudes?

Would isolation from American culture enable kids to do better in school? Is American culture poisonous to young minds?

"These different trends are notable because when children were able to maintain a sense of responsibility to their parents, they were not only more motivated and engaged in school, but also earned better grades over time," said University of Illinois psychology professor Eva Pomerantz, who led the study. "Chinese children's maintenance of a sense of responsibility to their parents may protect them against the decline so common among American middle schoolers in their engagement and achievement in school."

A comparison with successive generations of Chinese immigrant kids would be useful as well.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2011 October 01 04:29 PM  Culture Compared

MarkyMark said at October 1, 2011 6:08 PM:

An obvious point to make is that confucian values demand that a child respects their parents wishes. Beyond that I would be interested to know whether there was a difference between the American and Chinese students in terms of whether they considered that their parents had in some way sacrificed to send them to the school. I went to a private high school where my parents had to make moderate sacrifice to pay the school fees (eg no expensive holidays). There was a clear difference in terms of student motivation between those students whose parents had buckets loads of money and those whose parents were making sacrifices to send them there. I suspect that where a student, american or chinese, perceives that their parents have sacrificed themselves to give them an opportunity at school the student is likely to feel some sort of reciprical obligation to do well at school.

Lono said at October 4, 2011 10:13 AM:

The American education system is designed to fail.

It excels until around junior high and then it becomes quite sub-standard for all but those in the most gifted of programs.

(private education - of course - often provides a different pathway)

At that point the school - and the state - actively try to liberate the child from their allegience to their family. The book Brave New World was not as fictional as many of us were once led to believe.

Teach your children to think critically - and home school / private school when possible - to avoid this co-opting of the familial unit.

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