The Success of Taiwanese Fathers in Guiding Adolescents
Beckert, Troy E., Strom, Robert D., Strom, Paris S., Yang, Cheng-Ta, Adolescence
The expectation of fathers is being transformed in many countries (Baldwin, Faulkner, Hecht, & Lindsley, 2006). A generation ago, fathers were referred to as "forgotten contributors to child development" (Lamb, 1975). Today, however, expectations of North American fathers have changed from aloof breadwinner to the current view of a highly involved co-parent (Hofferth, 2003a). Throughout this evolution, the literature about fathering has focused mainly on involvement with younger children (Fagan, 2000; Roggman, 2004). Studies about fathers of adolescents are less common and emphasize coping issues like disagreement, autonomy, and quality of the parent-adolescent relationship (McGue, Elkins, Walden, & Iacono, 2005). As the number of dual income families in the United States continues to rise, the role of fathers in parenting practices has increased (Parke, 2002; Tamis-Le Monda & Cabrera, 2002). Generally, the growth of obligation has meant more participation in child guidance and led to a greater sense of satisfaction (Sciafani, 2004). Consequently, more attention needs to be paid to assessing father involvement and identifying his parenting competencies (Strom, Beckert, Strom, & Griswold, 2002; Strom, Amukamara, Strom, Beckert, Strom, & Griswold, 2001).
Cultural differences in paternal competencies are often influenced by economic characteristics and neighborhood contexts (Hofferth, Pleck, Stueve, Bianchi, & Sayer, 2002). However, when compared to mothers, fathers tend to exhibit distinct interaction styles that could influence generational impressions of competency in a wide range of cultures across the world (Shek, 2000). Although differences in father-adolescent interaction exist between cultures, more difference is usually evident within cultural groups (Beckert, Strom, & Strom, 2006). As world economics transform into global markets, distinct cultural traditions of a father's role are brought into question. The pattern of the modern father in the United States has impacted fathers of different ethnic backgrounds within the country (Hofferth, 2003b; Strom, Amukamara, Strom, Beckert, Strom, & Griswold, 2001). Other technologically advanced countries may be experiencing similar transitions (Baker & Le Tendre, 2005; Karraker & Grochowski, 2006).
Taiwan offers a unique opportunity to see the accelerated shifting of family roles. Taiwan has successfully transitioned from an agrarian, labor intensive economy of a generation ago, to a leading global market for information and technology today. Even with the emphasis on economic success, the family continues to be the most significant community organization in Taiwan (Law, 2002). The melding of economic growth and traditional families in Taiwanese culture has necessitated some drastic changes in many Chinese traditions. Within one decade, per capita income in Taiwan has doubled, with much of the new wealth attributed to approval of employment opportunities for women. In a single generation, the average family number declined from six children to the current norm of two children (Chien, 2003).
Traditional family values such as parental authority are being preserved in Taiwan (Chen & Lester, 2002). However, sweeping social, educational, and political changes may be altering how parents discharge this authority. In the past, fathers were characterized as strict and harsh, while mothers were seen as kind and responsive (Chao, 2000; Shek, 2000). To categorically describe Taiwanese fathers' parenting styles as "restrictive" or "controlling" falls short of the reality. (Lee & Sun, 1995). Specific aspects of restriction, control, and authority in Taiwanese parenting may vary (Shek, 2006). Empirical research has not identified the factors which contribute to individual differences among Taiwanese parents, but anecdotal evidence suggests that Taiwanese fathers could benefit from assuming a more significant role in guiding their children (Chen & Lester, 2002). Studies of fathers in the United States have identified parenting competence and learning needs across ethnicities in assessing (a) communication, (b) use of time, (c) teaching, (d) frustration, (e) satisfaction, and (f) need for information about adolescents (Beckert, Strom, & Strom, 2006).
Communication. Mothers and fathers from Taiwan agree that raising children presents a more complicated set of challenges for them than were encountered by parents in the past (Shek, 2000). Communicating with adolescent children is also seen as more difficult than with younger children (Lewis, 2000). Asian fathers are at a distinct disadvantage in communicating with their children because they are traditionally seen as the family disciplinarian and consequently as lacking warmth and closeness (Shek, 2006). Fathers who can communicate with their adolescent children may be better able to adjust to unfamiliar methods of guiding them along a new path of development (Kuo, 2000; Sun-Lu, 2004).
Use of time. Traditionally in Taiwan, a mother remained home to raise the children. However, economic reforms have changed that perspective. The traditional saying, "men take care of things outside the family, whereas women take care of things inside the family," is brought into question as traditional roles of outside employment continue to change (Shek, 2000). Parents in a fast-paced economic environment must cope with a shortage of time as they attempt to balance the competing demands of both parents working and family responsibilities (Twenge, 2006). Fathers may be required to spend more time raising their children than in the past.
Teaching. Parents in Taiwan are viewed as their children's primary teachers (Chen & Lester, 2002). Most parental training of children regardless of their age, has traditionally involved the mother (Chao, 2000). However, fulfillment of traditional parental duties in child education is also challenged by changing social situations. Not only are more two-parent families providing a dual income, but many nuclear families are moving away from traditional multigenerational living arrangements. It has been found that in families that migrate to the United States, parents without a support network of …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: The Success of Taiwanese Fathers in Guiding Adolescents. Contributors: Beckert, Troy E. - Author, Strom, Robert D. - Author, Strom, Paris S. - Author, Yang, Cheng-Ta - Author. Journal title: Adolescence. Volume: 41. Issue: 163 Publication date: Fall 2006. Page number: 493+. © 1999 Libra Publishers, Inc. COPYRIGHT 2006 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.