A Qualitative Study of Rural-To-Urban Migrant Chinese Mothers’ Experiences in Mother-Child Interactions and Self-Evaluation
- 26 Downloads
While previous research has highlighted the crucial role of parental support and parent-child communication in enhancing the quality of life of left-behind children in China, little research has investigated how migrant parents’ perceptions of parent-child interactions relate to their self-evaluation in parenthood and affect their parental well-being. This qualitative study adopted a symbolic interactionist perspective of identity construction to develop a heuristic tool to examine the narratives collected through individual interviews with 30 rural-to-urban migrant Chinese mothers regarding their experiences in maintaining ties with their children and how such experiences relate to their self-evaluation in motherhood. This study identified four types of maternal self-evaluation. The first type of mothers had few interactions with their children and constructed their maternal self mainly out of the cultural and social understanding of motherhood. The second type of mothers were able to maintain relational connectedness with their children and evaluated their maternal self positively. The third type of mothers had unfavorable parent-child interactions and constructed a resigned and gloomy view of their maternal self. The last type also evaluated their maternal identity negatively, but they maintained hope to redeem the maternal self through changing parental practices. The research findings demonstrate the complexity, diversity, and malleability of the construction of maternal identity among migrant mothers in China. They also provide insights into a number of initiatives that could potentially promote the well-being of migrant mothers and support their families.
KeywordsMotherhood Parenting Parental identity Migrant parents Left-behind children China
This study was funded by the General Research Fund 2015/16 of the Research Grant Council, The Hong Kong SAR Government (RGC Ref No. 14603015).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were approved by the Survey and Behavioral Research Ethics Committee of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (ref. number: 14603015).
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- Center for Child Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility. (2013). They are also parents: A study on migrant workers with left-behind children in China. Beijing: Author.Google Scholar
- China Labour Bulletin (2013). Migrant workers and their children. Retrieved from http://www.clb.org.hk/en/content/migrant-workers-and-their-children
- China Women’s Federation (2013). A research report on the lives of left-behind children and migrant children. Retrieved from http://acwf.people.com.cn/n/2013/0510/c99013-21437965.html
- Delmore-Ko, P.M. (2000). Developing a parental identity: Expectations about parenthood and descriptions of self as parent (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Waterloo, Canada.Google Scholar
- Jiang, J. (2016). 9.02 million children ‘left behind’ in rural China. People’s Daily Online. Retrieved from http://en.people.cn/n3/2016/1110/c90000-9139848.html
- Leung, J. T. Y., & Shek, D. T. L. (2017). The influence of parental expectations and parental control on adolescent well-being in poor Chinese families. Applied Research in Quality of Life. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11482-017-9540-9.
- McAdams, D.P. (2006). The role of narrative in personality psychology today. Narrative Inquiry, 16(1), 11–18.Google Scholar
- National Bureau of Statistics (2018). An investigation report of peasant migrant workers 2017. Retrieved from http://www.stats.gov.cn/tjsj/zxfb/201804/t20180427_1596389.html (in Chinese).
- Patton, M. Q. (2015). Qualitative research and evaluation methods (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
- To, S. M. (2018). Parental self-esteem, parent–child relationships, and authoritative parenting of Chinese migrant parents of left-behind children: Implications for social policy and services. Asian Social Work and Policy Review. Advance Online Publication, 12, 183–190. https://doi.org/10.1111/aswp.12149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- To, S. M., Kwok, C. M., So, Y. Y., & Yan, M. W. (2018a). Parent education for migrant mothers of left-behind children in China: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Family Process. Advance Online Publication. https://doi.org/10.1111/famp.12369.
- Xu, J. H. (2016). Media discourse on cell phone technology and “left-behind children” in China. Global Media Journal – Canadian Edition, 9(1), 87–102.Google Scholar