Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

The Relationship of Parental Attachment and Christian Spirituality with Intergenerational Conflict between Korean-American Young Adults and Their Parents

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

The Relationship of Parental Attachment and Christian Spirituality with Intergenerational Conflict between Korean-American Young Adults and Their Parents

Article excerpt

This empirical study had two main interests--relationships among Intergenerational Conflict (Intergenerational Conflict Inventory), Parent Attachment (Inventory of Parent Peer Attachment), and Christian Spirituality (Spiritual Assessment Inventory) and the mediation of Parent Attachment between Intergenerational Conflict and Christian Spirituality. This study defines Christian spirituality as the relationship with God (God-Relationship), measured by the SAI. Based on the self-report of 406 one and a half (1.5) and second generation Korean-American young adults in California, this study indicated three significant correlations among three factors: Intergenerational Conflict between Parent Attachment (p < .01), Parent Attachment between Christian Spirituality (p < .01), and Intergenerational Conflict between the subscales of Christian Spirituality such as Awareness, Disappointment, Realistic Acceptance, Instability, and Impression Management (p < .01). Significant effects of Parent Attachment (p < .01) on the prediction of the subscales of Christian Spirituality were found. Conversely, Parent Attachment (p < .01) and Instability (p < .05), one of the subscales of the SAI, predicted the effect on intergenerational conflict. Thus, parental attachment showed significant prediction on the subscales of Christian spirituality and intergenerational conflict. These results could induce developmental/psychological, cultural, spiritual, and biblical interpretations and suggest some implications for churches, parents, and young adults who are experiencing intergenerational conflict.


Koreans have a strong Confucian legacy and collectivistic views that familial hierarchy and role distributions are still important, although these views are changing as Koreans become influenced by American culture (Hurh, 1998). Acculturation of parents and children occurs across a very broad spectrum, so there are conflicts (Kim, Cain, & McCubbin, 2006; Kim & Wolpin, 2008; Kitano & Daniels, 1988). But, along with acculturation, the children of Korean immigrants are exposed to a complicated combination of developmental, psychological, social, cultural, and ethnic factors (Lew, 2006; Min, 1995). Adapting within such a context may cause unpredictable problems including intergenerational conflict.

Korean ethnic churches make significant contributions to the Korean community in America because these churches serve as foundation stones for Korean-Americans spiritually, psychologically, practically, socially, politically, and culturally (Hurh, 1998). Thus, Korean ethnic churches must be able to deal with emerging generations and the attendant challenges (Kim, 2008).

Intergenerational Conflict in Korean-American Families

The acculturation gap between immigrant Korean-Americans and their children has been regarded as one of the biggest variables that influences intergenerational conflict. The acculturation gap has some relationship with intergenerational conflict (Ahn, 2007; Lim, Yeh, Liang, Lau, & McCabe, 2009; Ying & Han, 2007). But acculturation gaps between Korean-American parents and their children are minimal according to a few studies (Ahn, 2007; Kim, 2006). The short history of Korean-American immigration may explain these small gaps. Korean-American descendants may perceive their acculturation gap to be greater than it actually is.

In addition to the acculturation gap, intergenerational conflict was also associated with variables such as depression, gender, familial relationship, and cultural factors such as identity, and ethnicity orientation to the native/mainstream culture (Choi, He, & Harachi, 2008; Chung, 2001; Desai, 2006; Kim, 2002). Thus, intergenerational conflict is a complex issue. In order to more closely examine the types of intergenerational conflicts, Chung (2001) developed the Intergenerational Conflict Inventory (ICI) to measure Asian-American immigrants' intergenerational conflict by asking questions about family expectation, education and career, and dating and marriage. …

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