Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 46, Issue 5, pp 1117–1136 | Cite as

Reconsidering Parenting in Chinese Culture: Subtypes, Stability, and Change of Maternal Parenting Style During Early Adolescence

  • Wenxin Zhang
  • Xing Wei
  • Linqin Ji
  • Liang Chen
  • Kirby Deater-Deckard
Empirical Research


Parenting in Chinese culture has been a central topic and there have been debate on whether western-derived parenting style is applicable to Chinese cultures in terms of both behavioral profiles and their relationships with child and adolescent adjustment. This study identified the subtypes of Chinese maternal parenting style and examined their stability and changes over the transition to early adolescence. In an urban Chinese sample (N = 2173, 48% girls), four waves of longitudinal data were collected when the adolescents were in the fifth (M = 11.27 years), sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. Latent profile analysis identified four subtypes of parenting style: authoritative, authoritarian, average-level undifferentiated, and strict-affectionate. Adolescents of authoritative mothers exhibited the best overall adjustment, while adolescents of authoritarian mothers showed the worst adjustment. Adolescents of strict-affectionate mothers generally adjusted as well as those of authoritative mothers, except they showed lower academic achievement. The strict-affectionate parenting represented a culture-specific subtype of parenting style in Chinese culture. Latent transition analysis revealed high stability of parenting styles during early adolescence, but transitions between subtypes were also evident. These findings highlight the importance of revisiting Chinese parenting and examining the developmental course of parenting style.


Parenting style Chinese culture Strict-affectionate parenting Early adolescence 



We are grateful to all the children, parents, and teachers who participated or contributed to this project.


This research was supported by the National Foundation for Education Sciences Planning of China (BBA140048), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31671156) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31271105).

Authors’ Contributions

W.Z. conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination and drafted the manuscript; X.W. participated in the interpretation of the data, performed the statistical analysis and drafted the manuscript; L.J. participated in the design and help to draft the manuscript; L.C. helped to draft the manuscript and perform the statistical analysis; K.D.D. helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical Approval

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the ethics committee on human experimentation of Shandong Normal University and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed assent (adolescents) and consent (mothers and school principals) were obtained from all participants for being included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wenxin Zhang
    • 1
  • Xing Wei
    • 1
  • Linqin Ji
    • 1
  • Liang Chen
    • 1
  • Kirby Deater-Deckard
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyShandong Normal UniversityJinanChina
  2. 2.Department of Psychological and Brain SciencesUniversity of Massachusetts AmherstAmherstUSA

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