Why Are Chinese Mothers More Controlling Than American Mothers? “My Child Is My Report Card”


  • This research was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grant R01 MH57505. We are grateful to the families who participated in this research. We appreciate the constructive comments provided by Qian Wang and members of the Center for Parent-Child Studies.


Chinese parents exert more control over children than do American parents. The current research examined whether this is due in part to Chinese parents' feelings of worth being more contingent on children's performance. Twice over a year, 215 mothers and children (Mage = 12.86 years) in China and the United States (European and African American) reported on psychologically controlling parenting. Mothers also indicated the extent to which their worth is contingent on children's performance. Psychologically controlling parenting was higher among Chinese than American mothers, particularly European (vs. African) American mothers. Chinese (vs. American) mothers' feelings of worth were more contingent on children's performance, with this contributing to their heightened psychological control relative to American mothers.