The relationship between Christian daughters-in-law and their non-Christian mothers-in-law in Taiwan: a theological and pastoral challenge
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AbstractWhat are the relational dynamics between Taiwanese Christian daughters-in-law (D-Ls) and their non-Christian mothers-in-law (M-Ls)? How does Christian faith influence their intergenerational relations? How best can a caregiver offer appropriate pastoral support and assist Christian women in dealing with their non-Christian M-Ls? These issues and problems have been largely ignored in the relative literature and have arisen from of my pastoral work and personal experience. As a female pastor and D-L, set out this study seeking to integrate professional and academic knowledge in order to answer these questions. This study focuses on women’s experiences, attempting to reveal those relationship issues, and determine any problems underscoring the daily interactions of D-L—M-L in Taiwanese society. In order to meet these aims, the thesis engages with feminist pastoral theology, social science methodology, psychological analysis, and cultural studies. The first part of this study explores literature relevant to the topic, and the living context of Taiwanese D-Ls, as well as feminist pastoral theology. It is concerned with how traditional Chinese and Western cultures define roles and construct intergenerational relationships. Social transition, tension between tradition and modernity, and the struggles and challenges in relation to these intergenerational relationships are examined. The traditional male-centred theological paradigms, in which gender is interpreted and which must be reinterpreted and reconstructed for developing feminist theology, is also discussed. The second part of this study describes its feminist research methodology. It sets out a framework for collecting data to aid in developing an understanding of Taiwanese Christian women’s experience. Focus group discussions were used to explore the collective voice of the D-Ls. The last part of this study involves the presentation of research findings, discussions, and suggestions for further thought and action. It illustrates key findings from analysis of the focus group discussions, and describes the daily interaction and cultural ideology they present, along with the roles husbands, fathers-in-law (F-L), children, and other family members play in the web of relationships. The findings reveal that D-Ls face the challenges of an androcentric and hierarchical family culture, a close-knit family web, and unequal power relations. Different religious practices impact upon the D-L－M-L relationship and this can be a source of tension or conflict. Christian teachings also convey potentially androcentric messages for women that can affect their self-image and cause other harmful consequences. However, many participating women indicated that Christian beliefs provide them with a spiritual strength which has transformed their lives, and led to relational restoration. The Bible, teachings and church groups provide religious resources that support them in the face of relational challenges. I end with self-reflection, noting the need for further theological construction, and propose an alternative model of Triune love, based upon feminist interpretation, as a foundation for family renewal and women’s emancipation. This theological model has implications for new forms of pastoral care which can promote gender equality and non-hierarchical, intergenerational relationships.
Hung, Yung-Ju (2016) The relationship between Christian daughters-in-law and their non-Christian mothers-in-law in Taiwan: a theological and pastoral challenge. DPT thesis, University of Glasgow.