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Patterns of adolescent–parent conflicts over schoolwork in Chinese families

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Schoolwork is a significant source of adolescent–parent conflicts in Chinese families. Framed in Smetana’s model of social domain theory and with support from self-determination theory by Deci and Ryan, we used the qualitative methods of grounded theory approach to explore the patterns of adolescent–parent conflicts over schoolwork in Chinese families, as well as the role of parental psychological control and youths’ autonomy development in schoolwork conflicts. Data were collected through semi-structured individual interviews with 28 parents and 35 adolescents in Yinchuan city of Ningxia. Intricate patterns of conflict reasoning and resolution are revealed in (a) parents’ conventional reasoning about schoolwork conflicts as driven by education system in China; (b) parents’ use of explicit and subtle coercive conflict resolution strategies; (c) adolescents’ conventional reasoning about conflicts on academic performance, multifaceted reasoning about conflicts on daily studies, and personal reasoning about conflicts on non-academic activities and (d) the process- and relationship-orientations of adolescents’ conflict resolution strategies. Reactive nature of Chinese teenagers’ conflict reasoning and resolution, as well as the intricate process involving parents’ psychological control and adolescents’ controlled motivation over schoolwork are indicated. Findings are discussed in the cultural context of contemporary China.

Keywords: Adolescent–parent schoolwork conflicts; adolescents’ autonomy development; conflict reasoning; conflict resolution; parental psychological control

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Education, Tsinghua University, Haidian District, People’s Republic of China 2: Department of Education Studies, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon District, Hong Kong

Publication date: January 2, 2023

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