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January 1972

The Chinese Attitude Toward Parental Authority As Expressed in Chinese Children's Stories

Author Affiliations

Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China
From the Department of Neuro-Psychiatry, National Taiwan University Hospital (Dr. Tseng and the Mental Hygiene Clinic, Tien Medical Center (Dr. Hsu), Taipei, Taiwan.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1972;26(1):28-34. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1972.01750190030007

It is useful for psychiatrists to study children's stories because they deal with the fantasies of the cultural group which tells them; because they are closely related to child development, reflecting its major stages and the problems common to them in that culture; and because they provide objective material for cross-cultural comparison. The classic Twenty-Four Stories of Filial Piety, which has been so influential in Chinese child-rearing and is still used, is presented to demonstrate the basic relationship between generations. Other well-known children's stories are presented and arranged according to stage of human development apparently referred to: (1) the transition from omnipotent fantasy to reality orientation; (2) triangular conflict between child and parents; and (3) interference by authority with the alliance of a young couple. In Chinese children's stories defiance of parental authority results in the admonition, punishment, or death of the transgressor. If he survives, however, he is given opportunity for training and atonement. In conflicts between generations, the elders always triumph.