The Impact of Family Socialization Practices on Children's Socialization in China

By Wang, Aimin; Stevens, Brenda et al. | Journal of Research in Childhood Education, Fall-Winter 1999 | Go to article overview

The Impact of Family Socialization Practices on Children's Socialization in China


Wang, Aimin, Stevens, Brenda, Chen, Ping, Qian, Mingyi, Journal of Research in Childhood Education


Abstract. The impact of Chinese family socialization practices on children's socialization was examined in this four-year longitudinal study. Questionnaires about family child-rearing practices and children's socialization were completed by the parents of 52 young children on two occasions, four years apart. The average age of the children at the end of the four-year study was 9.5 years.

A structural equations model was proposed and used to examine several hypotheses about the impact offamily practice on children's socialization over time. The model was tested using LISREL procedures, and the results indicated a good data fit for the model ([X.sup.2] (50, N = 52) = 55.46, p [greater than] .2). The three factors used in the model to measure family socialization practice (parental use of reasoning, intellectual stimulation, and encouragement of children to be independent) were significant indicators of overall family socialization practices. The three factors used in the model to indicate children's development (self-control, positive attitude toward others, and positive attitude toward work) were significant indicators of children's overall socialization. Four out of the five hypotheses, as measured by paths in the model, were found to be statistically significant. Statistically significant (p [less than] .05) paths were found for parents' socialization practices over four years ([[gamma].sub.21] = .998), family socialization practices to children's socialization on both occasions ([[gamma].sub.11] = .533, [[beta].sub.32] = .405), and family child-rearing practices to children's socialization over four years ([[gamma].sub.11] x [[beta].sub.31] + [[gamma].sub.21] X [[beta].sub.32] = .568).

The impact of parents on the socialization of their children historically has been one of the most popular topics in the fields of child development, child psychology, and sociology. Research on childhood socialization by the family has evolved over time from a focus on behavioral, psychoanalytic, and social learning theories, to microanalytic analyses of parent-child interactions, and finally, with the influence of Vygotsky, to viewing the parent in the teacher role (Maccoby, 1992). Thoughts about the strength and direction of parental influence upon children also have evolved over time from the simple explanation of parents as the most powerful and primary influences upon their child's socialization, to the idea of bi-directional interactions, and most recently, to complex process models theorizing that parental processes (Maccoby, 1992), or role construction and cultural context (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1997), rather than specific practices, mediate socialization.

In 1970, Hoffman speculated that parent child-rearing or disciplinary practices could be divided into four socialization modes that theoretically could coexist and interact with each other: power assertion, love withdrawal, induction, and affection. Several years later, Rollins and Thomas (1979) distinguished the concept of actual control from that of control attempts. Meanwhile, Baumrind (1967, 1978, 1988) empirically divided parenting styles into three patterns of parenting: authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive. While conceptually similar to the ones Hoffman postulated, these styles differed by the amount of parental control/maturity demands, parental warmth/nurturance, and clarity of parental communication involved (Schickedanz, 1995). Baumrind then went further to find differences among the children who received the three different styles of parenting, with each parental pattern corresponding to a different child outcome. Children classified as having authoritative parents were determined to be s elf-reliant, self-controlled, explorative, and self-assertive, while the children classified as having either authoritarian or permissive parents were shown to lack the above skills.

Around this time, the influence of the child's behaviors on the parent-child interaction gained increasing interest. …

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