The Mediating Role of Perceived Parental Warmth and Parental Punishment in the Psychological Well-Being of Children in Rural China
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Research has documented that parenting practices, such as parental warmth and parental punishment, play a mediating role in linking individual (e.g., age, gender) and familial characteristics (e.g., economic status, marital quality) to the psychological well-being of children. However, few studies have validated these connections with respect to the Chinese population, especially those in rural areas of China plagued with unfavorable conditions such as poverty and lack of education. In this study, we investigated whether child (age, gender, and sibship size), and familial characteristics (family wealth, parental education, and marital quality) indirectly contribute to the children’s psychological well-being (as indicated by their self-reported internalizing and externalizing problems) through their perceived parental warmth and parental punishment. Using structural equation modeling, we analyzed data collected from 2,000 children (ages 9–13) and their parents in rural China. The results reveal significant, indirect relationships from family wealth and marital quality to these children’s externalizing problems through parental warmth and parental punishment. There are age and gender differences in the children’s experiencing internalizing and externalizing problems. Gender differences are also found in their perceived parental warmth and parental punishment. Directions for future research are discussed.