The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

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

Social Support—A Mediator On the Role of Parental Socioeconomic and Acculturation Stress in Chinese Immigrants' Intergenerational Relationship

Thursday, January 16, 2014: 5:00 PM
HBG Convention Center, Room 003B River Level (San Antonio, TX)
* noted as presenting author
Qin Gao, PhD, Associate Professor, Fordham University, New York, NY
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
Background: The growth of the Chinese immigrant population in the US has been phenomenal in the past years. There was a notable increase of 103% from 1980 to 1990, 75% from 1990 to 2000, and another 45% from 2000 to 2007. However, the needs of this rapidly growing group have not been well understood and services for them are seriously lacking. The goal of this study is to investigate the possible effects of parental stress and acculturation on parenting behaviors among Chinese immigrant parents. This study also examines the possible mediating role of social support on these effects. Methods: This study uses secondary data from the Survey of Asian American Families (SAAF) in NYC conducted from May 2011 to April 2012 among 572 Asian parents. Only the Chinese immigrant subsample is used, with a final sample size of 268 parents. These include 80% from China, 15% from Hong Kong, and 5% from Taiwan. Parenting behaviors include positive parenting practice, parent-child conflict, and use of harsh discipline. Parental stress is captured by the level of parental stress and individual and family stressors. Acculturation is measured by the number of years a parent has been in the US, a scale on English proficiency, and a scale on cultural preferences for friends, foods, and TV programs. Social support is measured by a scale on informal social support from family, friends, or a significant other. All measures adopted in this study have proven to have high reliability and validity in the literature and have been used among Chinese immigrants. Regression analysis and Structure Equation modeling methods are used to help tease out the possible relationships pathways between parental stress, acculturation, and social support, with a rich array of control variables included in all models. Results: Multivariate analysis results reveal that greater level of parental stress and the presence of more stressors such as unemployment, low income, and low education are predictive more parent-child conflict and use of harsh discipline as well as fewer parenting behaviors (p<.05). Higher levels of acculturation for the parents are associated with more positive parenting practice and fewer parent-child conflicts (p<.05). Social support functions as a mediator in the relationships between parental stress, acculturation, and positive parenting practice, but not on the effects on negative parenting behaviors.  Implications: Findings from this study have direct implications for providing culturally sensitive and competent services for the rapidly growing yet underserved Chinese immigrant population in NYC and beyond. More attention should be paid to these parents’ stress from socioeconomic hardships as well emotional distress and their acculturation challenges. Providing greater support through both informal and formal channels may help foster positive parenting practice among these parents. These results can also help us improve social work education concerning the needs and services for Chinese Americans through raising social work practitioners’ as well as social work students’ level of cultural competence awareness and knowledge.