Parent-child conflict resolution is an interactive process by nature. Adopting a family systems perspective, the present study examines patterns of schoolwork conflict resolution among Chinese adolescents and parents, placing an emphasis on parent-child interactions. Qualitative methods using a grounded theory approach are adopted, with twelve parent-child dyads participating in joint interviews and follow-up individual interviews. Three patterns of adolescent-parent resolution of schoolwork conflicts are identified: (a) adolescents complying with parental coercion reluctantly: parents use parent-centered resolution strategies, while adolescents are self-assertive in the beginning but yield to their parents in the end; (b) effective communication: adolescents adopt self-assertive strategies when parents use child-centered strategies, with the outcome being that adolescents have the final say in agreements reached; (c) disagreement in a stalemate: parents’ use of parent-centered strategies and adolescents’ adoption of avoidant and self-assertive strategies lead to a suspension of disagreement. Discussion of the findings sheds light on hierarchical and enmeshed parent-child relationships in China as well as Chinese adolescents’ development of autonomy as exhibited in the patterns of parent-child schoolwork conflict resolution. Suggestions are made for further study of adolescent-parent schoolwork conflicts in Chinese families, and practical implications related to healthy family relationships are discussed.
Scopus Subject Areas
- adolescents’ development of autonomy
- adolescent–parent schoolwork conflicts
- Chinese families
- interactional perspective
- parent–child relationship
- patterns of conflict resolution