Family Interaction Relationship Types and Differences in Parent-Child Interactions

Article excerpt

The structure of family interaction relationship types and the differences of parent-child interactions based on parent-child samples in Taiwan were examined in this study. Eight interaction relationship types were examined; empathy, constraint, compromise, acquiescence, conflict, camouflage, indifference, and defensiveness. No significant differences were found in the family interaction relationship types between sons and daughters. Mothers were found to show more empathy than fathers in family interaction relationships; while children show more constraint, compromise, and acquiescence than parents, which all contribute to harmonious family interaction relationships.

Keywords: family interaction relationship types, parent-child interactions, structural equation modeling, Taiwan.

In any society, an individual forms many relationships with their surrounding environment, but the earliest, longest, and most important one is the family relationship. Recently, in family interactions research, the influence of the content of one's local culture has become a focal issue.

In the research on parent-child interactions, the first experimental design was the Strange Situation Test, developed by Ainsworth, Waters, and Wall (1978). They classified the attachment behavior in parent-child interactions into three types: anxious-avoidant attachment (type A), secure attachment (type B), and anxious-resistant attachment (type C). Subsequently, using combinations of a person's self-image (positive or negative) and image of others (positive or negative), Bartholomew and Horowitz (1991) classified attachment behavior into four types: secure attachment, preoccupied attachment, fearful-avoidant attachment, and dismissing-avoidant attachment and initiated further research on parent-child interaction types. Current investigations into parent-child interactions are therefore focused on communication and interactions with affection, in addition to upbringing. Trenholm and Jensen (1992, 2004) presented parental mediation as one of the parent-child interaction types, pointing out that parents' explanations of things would also influence children's perceptions and explanations of those things. Parental support and involvement with children are two among seven factors in the Parent-Child Relationship Inventory Scale constructed by Gerard in 1994. The findings of Trenholm and Jensen in their research (1992, 2004) and of Gerard (1994) are consistent with those gained in the research conducted by Gerrits, Goudena, and Aken (2005); all these authors state that the parent-child interaction involves both communication and affection.

When compared with studies of Western family interactions, will Chinese family interactions show the same trends? Researchers have divided world culture value systems into individualist and collectivism and Chinese society is classified as collectivist. Steinberg, Brown, and Dornbusch (1994) and Youniss (1994) found that parents tended to teach their children the cultural values of the society they live in, which help children get used to social norms. Family is deeply influenced by culture and it is important to interpret family interactions in relation to the cultural content of the society they are in. In this research, Chinese family interaction relationship types constructed by Chinese culture will be investigated and the differences in parent-child interaction relationship types will be discussed.



Huang (2005) defined harmony as the shared value and the common way of thinking by a culture. Obethence symbolizes interpersonal harmony for Chinese people. Chang and Li (2000) found that Chinese participants tended to obey individuals' or society's wishes in order to maintain family harmony. Hence, in China, children's obethence to their parents forms the harmonious and inharmonious dimensions of family interaction relationship types. …