Parental stress, acculturation, and parenting behaviors among Chinese immigrant parents in New York City

Shu-Wen Liu, Fordham University

Abstract

Problem Statement. Asian Americans have been one of the fastest growing minority groups in the United States since 1990. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, over the last ten years, the Asian population grew over 3 times faster than the total population of the nation, with the Chinese population being the largest Asian subgroup (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). The growth of the Chinese immigrant population in the US has been phenomenal in recent years, increasing 102.6% from 1980 to 1990, 75% from 1990 to 2000, and another 45% from 2000 to 2007 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). New York City’s Chinese population alone grew by 53.4% in the past decade to a total of 374,000. These figures indicate that the number of Chinese immigrant families in the US is growing rapidly. However, the needs of this rapidly growing group have not been well understood, and services for them are severely lacking. ^ What are the interrelations between parental stress, acculturation, and parenting behaviors among Chinese immigrant parents? Existing literature on this question is limited in several ways. First, most data used in the literature are either outdated or gathered from the West Coast. Therefore, research is needed to update the field’s understanding of whether parental stress and acculturation are linked with parenting behaviors among Chinese immigrant parents and to assess whether the patterns found in the literature also hold true on the East Coast, where the Asian immigrant population, particularly the Chinese population, has been growing quickly. Second, the samples used in most studies have been small (100 subjects or fewer) or had a sample from Asian college students. Finally, most studies provide only descriptive statistics or do not control for important individual and family characteristics; examples of missing parents’ characteristics include gender, age, and intermarriage, and examples of missing child characteristics include gender, age, and birth country, as well as whether the child speaks English at home and whether the child was ever sent back to China. ^ Aims and Research Questions. The goal of this study was to investigate the possible effects of parental stress and acculturation on parenting behaviors among Chinese immigrant parents in NYC using newly collected data from the Survey of Asian American Families (SAAF), which was conducted from May 2011 to April 2012. Three types of parenting behaviors were investigated: positive parenting practices, parent-child conflict, and the use of physical discipline. I also examined the possible mediating role of social support on these effects. Regression analysis was used to help tease out the effects of parental stress and acculturation on the three types of parenting behaviors and the possible mediating role of social support. All key variables were measured by scales that have been used widely in the literature and have been shown to have high reliability and validity. A rich array of individual, family, and community characteristics was controlled for to examine the possible relationship pathways between the key variables. The analysis if this new data provides an updated picture of parenting behaviors among NYC Chinese immigrant parents. The new empirical evidence from this study can help us better understand the need for support and services in parenting and child development for Chinese immigrant families in NYC and beyond. ^ Specifically, this study addressed three research questions, as illustrated in Figure 1: 1. Does parental stress significantly affect the parenting behaviors of Chinese immigrant parents? 2. Does parental acculturation significantly affect the parenting behaviors of Chinese immigrant parents? 3. Does social support mediate the effects of parental stress and acculturation on the parenting behaviors of Chinese immigrant parents? ^ Relevance for Social Work. The findings from this study have direct implications for providing culturally sensitive and competent services for this rapidly growing yet underserved population. Specifically, service providers can respect individual and cultural differences by building on the strengths of their Chinese clients. Such information can also help policymakers and practitioners design more effective and appropriate programs to enhance positive parenting, to reduce parent-child conflict, and to lessen the use of physical discipline. The findings can also help improve social work education, particularly regarding the needs of and services for Asian Americans, by raising students’ level of cultural competence, which will better prepare them to serve this population. As trained, culturally competent practitioners, social workers should be able to build upon their heightened awareness of and sensitivity to diverse cultures and move toward a more active application of that knowledge and related when serving clients. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)^

Subject Area

Asian American Studies|Social Work|Education, Educational Psychology|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

Recommended Citation

Liu, Shu-Wen, "Parental stress, acculturation, and parenting behaviors among Chinese immigrant parents in New York City" (2014). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3620826.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3620826

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