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Desire to Please Parents Motivates Kids at School
Date:5/12/2011

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 12 (HealthDay News) -- Children in both China and the United States who want to please their parents tend to do better at school, new research finds.

Yet in the United States, American kids' drive to please their parents declines during early adolescence, while in China feelings of obligation toward parents stay strong and even grow as kids hit their teenage years.

Researchers attribute that to cultural differences -- Americans view adolescence as a time in which teens assert their individualism, while the Chinese believe in "filial piety," or the idea that it's a child's responsibility to bring honor to their families and repay their parents for the sacrifices they made in raising them.

That means for Chinese kids, becoming a teenager doesn't mean rebelling or pulling away from family life, but becoming a more responsible member of it.

During early adolescence, "U.S. children feel less obligated toward their parents, and less concerned with showing their parents they are responsible members of the family," said study author Eva Pomerantz, a professor in the department of psychology at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "You don't see that decline in Chinese kids."

The study is published in the current issue of Child Development.

Pomerantz and her colleagues in China compared the attitudes of 825 middle-schoolers aged 11 to 14 in suburban Chicago and China. Students were asked over the course of two years about school and their parents, including how much they trusted their parents, how much time they felt they should spend at home with their parents, and how safe they felt communicating with them.

In addition, children were asked about their motivation to do well at school, including how important it was to them to please their parents or show them they're responsible.

Researchers also charted the grades the s
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