claire wu

Love and Discipline:
On Shaping the Chinese-Canadian Identity, 2020

Off Course, Design TO Festival Feature Interaction Design, Product Design, Exhibition Design

How can intergenerational dialogue in Chinese-Canadian families integrate more bicultural perspectives?

“There are still large silences and gaps in the conversation around this kind of domestic violence, especially when an interplay of cultural values is present.”

“... a strong, ingrained sense of filial devotion doesn’t just mean no backchat or no striking back – it means the thought of doing so never even crossed my mind.”

“Still, my childhood home feels like a site of mild trauma that probably won’t ever truly subside. It is a place of silences, assumptions and absolute obedience...”

– Yen-Rong Wong, author of “The trauma of discipline”, a memoir in the Griffith Review



Value Proposition
In Chinese culture, discipline in the form of corporal punishment isn’t uncommon in households. This method, used in the early years of childhood can create resentment or obedience out of fear. A parent's strict expectations and demand for discipline intended to help their children achieve success, often creates friction in the rela­tionship.

A parent with traditional Chinese values has strong opinions of what right, wrong, success, and failure looks like. The children of these parents live in a top down family structure and often feel as though their opinions don’t hold much weight in their parents’ eyes. Over time, this lack of communication creates a rift in the parent-child relationship, leading to resentment, and a lowered desire to talk with one another.

I'm looking to remediate communication practices through dialogues reflective of intergen­erational values and bicultural experience. These objects seek to engage Chinese-Canadian immi­grant families in authentic conversations on love and discipline in order to facilitate a more empa­thetic and nuanced understanding across different generations and cultures within the same family.

Key Findings

I created empathy maps from the interviews I held with Chinese-Immigrant parents and Chinese-Canadian children and created personas from the insights.

What is this?

This is a problem solving toolkit designed for Chinese-immigrant parents and Chinese-Canadian children to better communicate what they’re thinking and feeling after a big argument.

Problem solving toolkit

A toolkit intended to help a parent and child work through a disagreement or argument. The activity allows for physical seperation during heated moments in order to avoid emotional flooding. It also gives both parties ample time to think about what they want to communicate to the other person rather than saying things out of anger and frustration. 

Card Prompts These prompt cards are set up in the middle of the table and serve as a reference for both parents and children if they get sidetracked.

Individual Writing Prompts These foldable prompts come in English and Mandarin. The worksheets give parents and children time to cool off, think about their role in an argument and feel their emotions in seperate spaces.
They lead the parent or child through a specific thinking framework. It challenges both parties to recount what happened, practice naming their emotions in the moment, empathize with the other person, voice what they need in order to feel better, and reflect on what they can work on if something similar happens the next time.

Reference Cards
Included in the toolkit are two reference cards that offer parents and children an intro into the 5 Apology Languages, a theory developed by Gary Chapman, and an Emotion Key Card that gives both parties a list of emotions to refer to if they’re unsure how to describe what they’re feeling.

Exhibit at Toronto Design Festival

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