Contrary to popular perceptions, it has emerged in a new study that parents in Western countries are more controlling and dominating over their children compared to those in East Asian countries.
The research led by Eva Pomerantz from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and Qian Wang of The Chinese University of Hong Kong showed dominating parental control in Western countries often makes children suffer psychologically.
However, this effect may not be as strong in East Asian countries as the researchers believe that certain aspects of East Asian culture may make children more accepting of their parents' intrusive behaviour.
The researchers compared the effects of parental control in the United States and China, and found that too much control may interfere with a child's psychological development by making them feel as though they don't have any control over their lives.
However, there may be some contexts in which the effect of parental control is stronger in the West than in East Asian countries.
In Western countries, parents tend to decrease control more than Chinese parents do as children go through adolescence; Western children expect this decrease in supervision and therefore, their psychological functioning may be dependent on the extent to which parents decrease their control over them.
In addition, the negative effects of parental control over children's academic learning may be stronger in the West than in East Asia.
In East Asian countries, there is a very strong moral aspect associated with learning and an education has much greater financial impact than in the West. For these reasons, when it comes to academics, East Asian children may be more accepting of excessive parental involvement.
"Recommendations that parents limit their intrusiveness in children's lives are likely to be useful both in the West and in East Asia," said the researchers.
The new report appears in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.