Although the size of Korean multicultural adolescents has increased, maladjustment of Korean multicultural adolescents has been reported in various areas. Existing literature attempts to explain the adjustment of immigrant adolescents through acculturation strategies (Berry, 2005) that were established in Western society; this may be limited in explaining the adjustment of Korean multicultural adolescents. Given the unique characteristics of Korean immigrant families established by intercultural marriages, it is necessary to consider acculturation trajectories of marriage immigrant women who have actual immigrant experiences in the families and are the caregivers of multicultural adolescents. The current study aims to identify developmental acculturation trajectories from adolescents and immigrant mothers and to examine their effects on psychological, behavioral, and school adjustment of Korean multicultural adolescents.
Data from a nationally representative sample of Multicultural Adolescents Panel Study in South Korea (N=1,625, Girls=50.71%, age at wave 6= 14.97) were used. Adolescents' data and their mothers' data were merged based on the household. This study employed latent class growth analysis to identify acculturation trajectories of adolescents and their immigrant mothers from Wave 2 to Wave 5. Self-reported measures of acculturation were used. With identified trajectory groups, multivariate regression was conducted to examine the effect of latent trajectories on adolescents' psychological adjustment (life satisfaction and depression), behavioral adjustment (status delinquency and severe delinquency), and school adjustment (educational interest, academic achievement, bullying victimization, relationship with peer and teacher) at Wave 6.
Four latent acculturation trajectories of multicultural adolescents were identified: integration group (32.23%), separation group (1.98%), modest assimilated group (44.69%), and highly assimilated group (21.10%) and three latent acculturation trajectories of immigrant mothers were distinguished: separation group (27.41%), modest integration group (58.38%), and assimilation group (14.21%). Multivariate regression results found that compared to the adolescents’ integration trajectory group, other three trajectory groups showed lower levels of life satisfaction, educational interest, higher levels of depression, lower quality of peer and teacher relationship. Also, immigrant mothers who were in the separation group were related to adolescents’ lower life satisfaction (b=-0.08, p<0.05), engagement in severe delinquency (b=0.02, p<0.05), and lower interest in education (b=-0.07, p<0.05) compared to the mothers’ integration group. Adolescents who have assimilated immigrant mothers were more likely to have higher life satisfaction (b=0.12, p<0.05), and having higher quality of peer (b=0.08, p<0.05) and teacher relationships (b=0.12, p<0.01).
This study distinguished developmental acculturation trajectories of adolescents and their immigrant mothers. Both adolescent and immigrant mothers have integration, assimilation, and separation trajectory profiles. However, marginalization profiles were not found. The integration profile of Korean multicultural adolescents showed the best outcomes across multiple adjustment domains. Moreover, not only the acculturation trajectories of multicultural adolescents but also trajectory groups of their immigrant mothers influenced adolescents' psychological, behavioral, and school adjustment. These findings suggested that providing family-based prevention and intervention programs is essential to prevent maladjustment of Korean multicultural adolescents.