While parental participation in children’s development has been accepted as an uncontestable truth, this paper is going to show how parenting magazines, as a form of popular culture, can be important agents in defining parenting and constructing childhood for local consumption. In examining the messages of a popular local parenting magazine from its inception in 1988 to present, our analysis identifies the emergence of a hidden curriculum for Hong Kong parents (if not for mothers only). Lying behind those factual information and professional knowledge are not only detailed prescriptions and multiple duties for parents and parents-to-be, they appear to promote and privilege certain (middle class) views of parental roles and practices. Furthermore, instead of being empowered, parents are consistently reminded of how dangerous, uncertain, and competitive the contemporary world has become, who therefore are likely to develop a sense of insecurity and incompetence within themselves as well as for their children. On the other hand, the magazine has been recommending a variety of courses and workshops, advice from experts, commercial services and products, which appear to encourage “informed” parents-cum-consumers to purchase a head-start for their children. As parenting implies childhood, we will end our presentation by discussing some implications of our findings for educators.
|Published - 2008