An associate researcher at the School of Social and Population Studies, Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications presented a lecture at the Chinese Sociological Association’s annual academic conference in July of this year titled, “Does Christian Faith Affect the Way of Parenting? A Qualitative Study on the Philosophy, Practice and Results of Parenting in Christian Families.” This article from the Christian Times discusses his findings.
Lecture by a Scholar of Sociology of Religion:
In the Face of the Tide of Tiger-Parenting, Are Christians Less Anxious about Parenting because of Their Faith?
From July 16–18, 2021, the Chinese Sociological Association held their Annual Academic Conference at the Southwest University in Chongqing. The sub-forum on sociology of religion was held on July 17, with the theme “Local Issues and Discourse Construction in the Research of Religious Sociology in the New Era,” with over twenty scholars participating.
Twenty-one scholars were invited to give speeches on four topics, including sociology of religion, the current state and relationship of religion, governance of religion, and the world of religion and life.
Du Weiquan, an associate researcher at the School of Social and Population Studies, Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications, shared a lecture titled “Does Christian Faith Affect the Way of Parenting? A qualitative study on the philosophy, practice and results of parenting in Christian families.”
Mr. Du divided the evolution of family parenting in China into three stages. The first is the period of traditional society, where emphasis is placed on “strict fathers and loving mothers” and “preferring sons over daughters.” The second is the planned economy period, with defamilization and the beginnings of gender equality. The third is the market economy period. In this period, the traditional “care” function of parents is replaced by the “education” function, and criticism of parents began to diversify.
So, what kind of parenting philosophy do Chinese Christians have? What kind of parenting methods do they adopt? What are their parenting results?
In response to the above questions, Mr. Du adopted a qualitative research method, and interviewed 21 Christian parents and 8 non-Christian parents in-depth. He found four differences between the two groups.
First, in terms of parenting knowledge, non-Christian parents are generally lacking in knowledge, rarely studying parenting in any way. Even those who do learn, study parenting knowledge often led by marketers taking advantage of parental anxiety. On the other hand, Christian parents mainly learn all their parenting knowledge from the Christian religion or the teaching of the Bible.
Second, in terms of parenting philosophy, non-Christian parents pay more attention to their children’s academic performance; the ultimate goal is to encourage their children to achieve both success and fame. But Christian parents place greater emphasis on foundational education, which is the so-called character training, as a measure of God’s children. This is reflected in various aspects, such as awe, gratitude, repentance, etc.
Third, in the practice of parenting, Christian parents are more often involved in parenting than non-Christian parents, and the absence of fathers is rarer. They guide their children towards the faith through their own actions and words. Though they have high hopes for their children’s faith, they do not force them. Furthermore, Christian parents have lower parenting anxiety, because they want to cultivate children of God and pay more attention to character, instead of utilitarian cultivation of successful people.
Last, in terms of parenting results, when the children of tiger-parenting grow up and enter college, they are prone to the colloquial “hollowness disease,” which may lead to school-weariness or even dropping out. So, finding a good job and earning a high income doesn’t necessarily work out in the end.
However, Christian parenting helps children to understand themselves, grow better, makes their life meaningful, and improves their parent-child relationship as well.
In the end, Mr. Du concluded that Christians’ way of parenting has been influenced by their faith, which also causes essential differences from non-Christian parents in terms of parenting time and parenting result. Foundational education and the sanctification of daily life are helpful in reducing parenting anxiety. In addition, he also calls for more fathers’ taking responsibilities in parenting.
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