The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Acculturation, Nurturance Behaviors, and Intergenerational Conflict in Asian American Immigrants

Thursday, January 16, 2014: 4:30 PM
HBG Convention Center, Room 003B River Level (San Antonio, TX)
* noted as presenting author
Fuhua Zhai, PhD, Assistant Professor, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY
Shu-Wen Liu, MSW, Ph.D. Candidate, Fordham University, Watchung, NJ
Qin Gao, PhD, Associate Professor, Fordham University, New York, NY
Background: Asian American population has been one of the fastest growing ethnic subgroups in the US in past decades. However, their acculturation experiences and how these experiences may affect intergenerational relationships have not been well addressed in the literature. Existing findings concerning whether parental nurturance serves as a mechanism through which parental acculturation affects intergenerational conflict in Asian American families are inconsistent and need to be further investigated. Further, there is little evidence on whether the effects of parental acculturation on intergenerational relationships may differ by parents’ level of education. The goal of this study is to investigate the effects of acculturation on intergenerational relationships among immigrant Asian American families in New York City (NYC). We also investigate whether parents’ education level functions as a moderating variable in these relationships. Methods: This study uses a sample of 452 immigrant Asian American parents from the Survey of Asian American Families (SAAF) in NYC conducted in 2011-2012. The SAAF study is a cross-sectional survey study using a purposive quota sampling method by reaching out to several social service agencies mainly serving Asian Americans across the various NYC boroughs. Intergenerational relationships, the outcome variable, are operated by parental nurturance and parent-child conflict. Parental nurturance is measured by asking about parents’ agreement in terms of having positive practices, attitudes, and beliefs in childrearing. Parent-child conflict is measured by reflecting disagreements in values and practices between U.S.-raised children and their Asian immigrant parents. Acculturation, the independent variable, is measured by a scale to capture the degree to which parents are perceived to be culturally traditional or mainstream. Multiple regression analyses are used to determine whether and the extent to which parental acculturation predicts intergenerational relationships—both positive and negative, with a rich array of control variables included in all models. Results: The results indicate that parental acculturation helps to increase parents’ nurturance behaviors (p<.01) and decrease parent-child conflict (p<.001) across the various Asian American subgroups. Further, parental nurturance plays a mediating role in the effects of parental acculturation and parent-child conflict. The results also show that parent’s education level significantly moderates the relationship between parental acculturation and parent-child conflict, with parents with higher education less likely to engage in parent-child conflict behaviors than their less educated peers with similar level of acculturation. Implications: The implication for practice is to provide the utility of a newly culturally-sensitive family intervention in enhancing parenting effectiveness and intergenerational intimacy, which may bring some benefits to help Asian immigrant families have a healthy transition to life in the US. In order to educate parents to have better childrearing practice with children and adolescents, psych-educational approach are considered to increase family members’ understanding of migration-related and culture-related issues.