Parental acculturation, parenting practices, and adolescent depressive symptoms in Chinese American families
Chinese-American parents are parenting within two cultures: the mainstream American culture and their heritage Chinese culture. This study examined parental cultural orientations toward the American and Chinese cultures, and the implications for parenting practices among Chinese-American families. Parenting dimensions examined were both culture-general measures (parental warmth, punitive parenting, non-democratic parenting) and culture-specific measure (parental endorsement of family obligations). Data came from a two-wave survey of about 400 Chinese-American families (one target adolescent, mother, and father). First, within each wave, the study examined the concurrent relationships between parenting practices and adolescent depressive symptoms. Second, this study examined, concurrently and longitudinally, whether parental cultural orientations were associated with parenting practices both directly and indirectly through two mediating factors: parents' bicultural management difficulty and depressive symptoms. Analyses were conducted separately for mothers and fathers. First, study findings showed that parenting practices characterized by higher levels of warmth, strong endorsement of family obligations, and lower levels of punitive and non-democratic behaviors were associated with fewer depressive symptoms in adolescents. Second, the study demonstrated significant direct relationships between both Chinese and American orientations and parenting practices. While American orientation was related to effective parenting (more warmth, low punitiveness, low non-democratic parenting), Chinese orientation was related to effective parenting (more warmth, low non-democratic parenting, strong endorsement of family obligations) as well as ineffective parenting (high punitiveness). This study also showed that parents' bicultural management difficulty and depressive symptoms mediated the relationships between acculturation and culture-general parenting measures (warmth, punitiveness, and nondemocratic parenting). It was through these two mediators (bicultural management difficulty and parental depressive symptoms) that (1) Chinese orientation was related to less warmth, high punitive and non-democratic parenting and (2) American orientation was related to more warmth, low punitive and non-democratic parenting. Lastly, there was some evidence of longitudinal relationships (father's American orientation at w1 predicted more warmth at w2; mother's American orientation at w1 predicted low punitiveness at w2 through the mediating factors of bicultural management difficulty and depressive symptoms at w1). The study suggests that parental psychological maladjustment is a promising area for interventions to promote parenting and adolescent development among ChineseAmerican families.