Chinese American adolescents' cultural frameworks for understanding parenting

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Parenting approaches that are firm yet warm (i.e., authoritative parenting) have been found to be robustly beneficial for mainstream White Americans youths, but do not demonstrate similarly consistent effects among

Parenting approaches that are firm yet warm (i.e., authoritative parenting) have been found to be robustly beneficial for mainstream White Americans youths, but do not demonstrate similarly consistent effects among Chinese Americans (CA) adolescents. Evidence suggests that CA adolescents interpret and experience parenting differently than their mainstream counterparts given differences in parenting values and child-rearing norms between traditional Chinese and mainstream American cultures. The current study tests the theory that prospective effects of parenting on psychological and academic functioning depends on adolescents' cultural frameworks for interpreting and understanding parenting. CA adolescents with values and expectations of parenting that are more consistent with mainstream American parenting norms were predicted to experience parenting similar to their White American counterparts (i.e., benefiting from a combination of parental strictness and warmth). In contrast, CA adolescents with parenting values and expectations more consistent with traditional Chinese parenting norms were predicted to experience parenting and its effects on academic and psychological outcomes differently than patterns documented in the mainstream literature. This study was conducted with a sample of Chinese American 9th graders (N = 500) from the Multicultural Family Adolescent Study. Latent Class Analysis (LCA), a person-centered approach to modeling CA adolescents' cultural frameworks for interpreting parenting, was employed using a combination of demographic variables (e.g., nativity, language use at home, mother's length of stay in the U.S.) and measures of parenting values and expectations (e.g., parental respect, ideal strictness & laxness). The study then examined whether prospective effects of parenting behaviors (strict control, warmth, and their interaction effect) on adolescent adjustment (internalizing and externalizing symptoms, substance use, and GPA) were moderated by latent class membership. The optimal LCA solution identified five distinct cultural frameworks for understanding parenting. Findings generally supported the idea that effects of parenting on CA adolescent adjustment depend on adolescents' cultural framework for parenting. The classic authoritative parenting effect (high strictness and warmth leads to positive outcomes) was found for the two most acculturated groups of adolescents. However, only one of these groups overtly endorsed mainstream American parenting values.