Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Intergenerational Experiences of Discrimination in Chinese American Families: Influences of Socialization and Stress

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Intergenerational Experiences of Discrimination in Chinese American Families: Influences of Socialization and Stress

Article excerpt

In this longitudinal study, we investigated the mechanisms by which Chinese American parents' experiences of discrimination influenced their adolescents' ethnicity-related stressors (i.e., cultural misfit, discrimination, attitudes toward education). We focused on whether parents' ethnic-racial socialization practices and perpetual foreigner stress moderated or mediated this relationship. Participants were 444 Chinese American families. Results indicated no evidence of moderation, but we observed support for mediation. Parental experiences of discrimination were associated with more ethnic-racial socialization practices and greater parental perpetual foreigner stress. More ethnic-racial socialization was related to greater cultural misfit in adolescents, whereas more perpetual foreigner stress was related to adolescents' poorer attitudes toward education and more reported discrimination. Relationships between mediators and outcomes were stronger for fathers than for mothers.

Key Words: adolescence, Asian Americans, culture/race/ ethnicity, development/outcomes, discrimination, intergenerational transmission.

Parents play a critical role in the socialization of children and adolescents. Although much of the extant research on parenting in the United States has focused on European American samples, increased attention to the parenting practices in Asian American families has documented the importance of parenting for child and adolescent development across domains (Chao & Tseng, 2002; S. Y. Kim & Wong, 2002). Whereas some research suggests that parents' influence on their offspring declines during adolescence as youth spend increasing amounts of time with peers (see Steinberg & Morris, 2001, for review), the interdependence and collectivism of the Asian culture generally and the Chinese culture specifically suggest continually strong ties between parents and children across the life course (see Yee, DeBaryshe, Yuen, Kim, & McCubbin, 2007, for discussion). The cultural value of filial piety only reinforces this connection between parents and children, encouraging the younger generation, regardless of age, to treat their elders with reverence and respect and look to them for guidance (Cheung, Lee, & Chan, 1994; Hsu, 1953). As such, for the lives of Asian American adolescents, parents play an integral and pervasive role in their development.

The critical role of Asian American parents may be one key factor for unpackaging Asian American adolescents' experiences of discrimination and ethnicity-related stress. Although limited, research has documented the pernicious influences of discrimination in the lives of Asian American youth (Greene, Way, & Pahl, 2006; Romero, Carvajal, Valle, & Orduna, 2007). Whereas scholars have focused some attention on the consequences of discrimination for Asian American adolescents, almost no research has examined the precursors of adolescents' discrimination and other ethnicity-related stressors. Given the influential role of parents in the lives of Asian American adolescents, whether parents' experiences of discrimination have repercussions for their children, and the processes by which this might occur, is an area ripe for inquiry. The current study seeks to fill this void by exploring the possible mechanisms by which Chinese American parents' experiences of discrimination might influence their children's perceptions of discrimination, sense of cultural misfit, and attitudes toward education. Specifically, we explore whether parents' ethnicracial socialization practices and their stress over the perpetual foreigner stereotype mediate this relationship or whether the strength of this relationship varies (i.e., is moderated) by different levels of parents' ethnic-racial socialization or perpetual foreigner stress.


The United States has a long history of discrimination against Asian Americans, from anti-Asian immigration and naturalization laws passed as late as 1935 to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II to discrimination in housing, education, and employment that persists even today (see Young & Takeuchi, 1998, for review). …

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