Korean American Children's Evaluations of Parental Gender Expectations of Children's Gender-related Peer Activities

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The purpose of this study was to examine the nature of children's social reasoning about parental authority and gender expectations of boys' and girls' participation in gender stereotypic peer activities. Participants were 102 third and sixth grade Korean American children who were interviewed about six stories in which a boy and a girl desire to engage in gender-congruent, gender-incongruent, and gender neutral peer activities. A series of assessments were administered for each story in which participants were asked to make several judgments and provide a reason for their judgments regarding gender expectations, parental jurisdiction, autonomy, the fairness of gender bias, and cultural expectations. In addition, participants' beliefs of parental gender-expectations were assessed using a stereotype knowledge measure.

The findings in this study demonstrated that Korean American children's evaluations of parental expectations for children's participation in gender stereotypic peer activities were multifaceted. Participants' decisions involved different forms of reasoning that varied according to the features of the context such as fairness, gender stereotypes, authority, autonomy, and culture. Overall, Korean American children supported participation in gender related activities using personal choice reasons to support their decisions. However, when issues such as authority, autonomy, and exclusion were made salient, participants' evaluations differed, particularly between third and sixth grade children and in some cases, between boys and girls. Younger children often deferred to parental decisions and supported gender stereotypes more often than older children. Further, girls were more willing to reject stereotypic expectations than were boys appealing to gender equity. Thus, children use moral, social-conventional, and stereotypic reasons when evaluating parental expectations of children's engagement in peer-related activities. Examining Korean children's conceptions of gender-based expectations and exclusion in the family elucidates the complex nature of decisions individuals must make in these types of situations which reflect real life issues for many families from different cultures. The results of this study contribute to theories about culture, social reasoning, family relationships, and gender expectations.