Adult mother -daughter relationships in Korea: A qualitative study

Jaesook Gho, Purdue University


The purpose of this study was to understand what is considered a good quality mother-daughter relationship in Korea from the perspectives of mothers and their young adult daughters, and to explore how the indigenous themes of interdependency, filial piety, and emphasis on educational excellence as an expression of filial piety, are reflected in the perceptions of the mothers and their young adult daughters. The interview data collected by Melson et al. (2002) in Korea were used for analysis. Participants included 29 daughters between the ages of 20 to 36 and their biological mothers between the ages of 46 to 69. Both mothers and daughters were from the Seoul, Korea. Mothers were asked to describe their relationship with their daughters from the time of the daughters' birth. Daughters were asked to describe their relationship with their mothers from their earliest memories of their mothers. The results revealed their different perceptions of their experiences and relationships as well as their commonalities. The filial piety findings revealed that the Korean mothers had strong filial piety expectations and expected obedience from their daughters. The results also showed that the mothers' filial piety expectations of their daughters were strong but their interdependency expectations were very low. Mothers were also shown to be the source of the dynamic energy promoting young women's career aspirations. As they raised their daughters, they stressed the importance of women having their own career in today's society and passed on their values to their daughters. Most mothers and daughters in the study expressed great satisfaction with their relationship with each other. Conflict often occurred when the mother took an individualistic approach to her parenting. In most cases, both mother and daughter were changing together, but when there was conflict it was often when one of the pair did not accept the change. In Korean society there is a deep-rooted emphasis on conformity and not being different. Korean daughters seemed to use social comparison influences on judging the quality of parenting. ^




Major Professor: Gail F. Melson, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

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