Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Parental Attitudes toward Their Parenting Styles and Children's Competence in Families Whose Children Are Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) Carriers in Guangzhou China

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Parental Attitudes toward Their Parenting Styles and Children's Competence in Families Whose Children Are Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) Carriers in Guangzhou China

Article excerpt

Parental Attitudes Toward Their Parenting Styles and Children's Competence in Families Whose Children are Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) Carriers in Guangzhou China*

More than 20,000 children in Guangzhou were carriers of Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), and one out of every six children between the ages of three to six were victims of HBV (Guangzhou AGAPE newsletter 1990; Guangzhou Daily News, Mar. 26 1991). In order to protect the non-carriers from infection, HBV children have not been admitted to ordinary kindergartens since 1980. In 1992 there were only three special kindergartens reserved for children with health problems and especially for HBV children, compared with 500 ordinary kindergartens in 1992. Hence only about 2.8% of the total HBV children between the ages of three to six attended special health kindergartens, while 97.2% stayed at home. HBV children are perceived as " Little Second-Class Citizens" in the community. Parents report experiencing stress because of this labelling. Since 90% of the parents are working and 70% of the families are nuclear families in Guangzhou, many HBV children stay at home without a dependable person to take care of them, which also creates a great burden and stress on the parents.

This stress was reported to have a deleterious effect on the mother-child relationship, on maternal warmth and responsiveness, and on child cognitive and social competence (Vaughn et al,1979; Belsky, 1984; Garmezy, 1989). A number of researchers found evidence that maternal responsiveness and parenting styles are the most important and sensitive aspects to the development of children's competence (Belsky, Rovine, & Fish, 1989., Easterbrooks & Emde, 1988; Howes & Markman, 1989; Parke & Tinsely, 1987). The aims of the study were :1) to explore parental attitudes regarding their HBV children through focus group discussion, and compare them with the attitudes of mothers of healthy children; 2) to explore and compare the similarities and differences of mothers' self reports of their parenting styles and children's competence in children with HBV disease and healthy children. Another aim was to see if mothers of HBV children's responses revealed a set of underlying factors different from the healthy control group. It was hoped that the results of this study would provide a basis for identifying the risk factors of parental attitude regarding HBV children. The study used a paper-and-pencil instrument to examine parental attitudes that expressed during three focus discussion groups, involving three different groups of mothers. The rationale of this study was that there had been an extensive body of studies documenting Hepatitis B clinically, but none or few of these studies had considered the psychological impact of Hepatitis B on children and their mothers.

Though Hepatitis B is only an infectious disease affecting child health, the experiences that Hepatitis B children in their home environment (such as parental stress as well as attitudes & parenting styles) might affect their total development.

The Effect of Parenting Styles on Child Development

The scope of most Western studies of parenting style generally lie along two fundamental dimensions (Maccoby & Martin, 1983; Roberts, 1986). The first is warmth, which includes both affection and behavioural responsiveness. For a wide range of families, parental responsiveness has been linked to secure attachment in infancy and to social and task competencies in preschool years (Ainsworth & Bell, 1974; Arend, Gove, & Sroufe, 1979; Matas, Arend, & Sroufe, 1978). Warmth and affection have also been associated with children's competence in early and middle childhood (Maccoby & Martin, 1983; Roberts, 1986). The second dimension of parenting style includes both demands and the assertion of power to obtain compliance. Control has also been identified as an important determinant of children's competence (Baumrind, 1971). …

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