Defining parenting styles of immigrant families

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Capstone Proposal

Defining parenting styles of immigrant families

My topic of interest for the Capstone project is defining different parenting styles of immigrant families.

It is well known among parent education researchers as well as students, that there are four different parenting styles. One of the best and well known theories of parenting was developed by Diana Baumrind; Baumrind is well known for her research on parenting styles. Baumrind first introduced three parenting styles; authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive. The fourth style of parenting, negligent or disengaged parenting, was later added to complete the four categories of parenting styles. "Diana Baumrind's (1971) seminal work on the classification of parenting styles has been prominent in influencing research on parenting and its effects on children and adolescents" (Ang & Goh, 2006).  The four parenting styles may sound very similar and confusing, however, we will see throughout this literature review, exactly how different these parenting styles are and which styles are most common among the Asian immigrants.

Permissive parenting style is when parents place few restriction, rules, or limits on their children's behavior. ADD MORE INFO ON THIS

Authoritative parenting style is what I also like to call the western parenting style. According to Ang & Goh (2006), authoritative parents are those who are flexible and responsive to the child's needs but still enforce reasonable standards of conduct. This means that authoritative parents keep a balance between the children's needs and are also socialized to express their emotions and to pursue their desires. This kind of parenting is specially recognized and encouraged in western cultures. This style of parenting in Diana Baumrind's classification is documented as being the best parenting style with regard to child outcomes, such as, academics, depression, intergenerational conflict, self-esteem, self-reliance, etc. Also, authoritative parenting style has repeatedly been found to be linked with positive self-perception while authoritarian parenting style has continually been found to be correlated with negative self-perception (Ang & Goh, 2006). Oppose to authoritative parenting, authoritarian parenting style is frequently seen in Asian cultures.

Authoritarian or strict parents, who are often considered harsh and rather than responding to the demands of the child, these parents focus on gaining a child's obedience to parental demands. This parenting style has acquired a negative connotation in the Western society, mainly because of the negative child and adolescent outcomes frequently associated with it. Past research shows that among Asian parents, parenting styles have been described as "authoritarian", "controlling", "strict", "hostile", and "restrictive" (Ang & Goh, 2006). For Caucasian Americans, authoritarianism may be associated with being "strict" and "aggressive", however, this type of parenting style may have a different meaning because of the substantial differences in culture. One of the biggest reasons this may be, is because the American culture is considered individualistic, whereas, Asian societies, in general are considered collective societies.

Individualistic societies simply enforce individual values. American culture encourages individuals to practice open expression of emotions and pursue their desires. Collective cultures, such as Asian societies, are socialized to sacrifice their own desires in the interest of family harmony (Ying & Han, 2007). According to Ang & Goh (2007), Chao (1994) introduced the concept of chiao shun or "training" which emphasizes the importance of parental control and monitoring of children's behavior while providing parental involvement, concern and support. The training aspect of this concept focuses on obedience, self-discipline, and excelling in school. Another aspect of this concept is guan. As explained by Tobin, Wu, and Davidson (1989), the term guan literally means "to govern". Guan, does not have to be necessarily a negative ideation. In fact, this has a very positive connotation in Asian (Chinese) culture, because it can mean "to care for", "to love", and also, "to govern". These ideas overlap somewhat with Baumrind's authoritarian parenting style which may explain why authoritarian parenting style is more prominent in Chinese, other Asians, and Asian Americans. Therefore, the notions "control" and "governance" not only have very positive implication for Asians, but also are regarded as role requirements of responsible parents and educators. Throughout this literature review, my main focuses are authoritarian, authoritative parenting styles, and how these parenting styles may create intergenerational-intercultural conflict immigrant families.

An everyday challenge facing immigrant families is intergenerational-intercultural conflict. According to Ying & Han (2007), one of every five American children grows up in an immigrant headed family and almost 88% of Asian American youths are raised by nonnative-born parents. When parents are born in a collective society and their children are being raised in an individualistic society, conflict arises. Differential acculturation between migrant parents and their children results in intergenerational-intercultural conflict. This conflict does not only threaten emotional wellbeing but also holds significant negative mental health consequences for both migrants and their children.

Intergenerational-Intercultural Conflict in Southeast Asian American and Migrant Families

According to Ying & Han (2007), Intergenerational discrepancy occurs because adult immigrants have been socialized in their culture of origin, they usually prefer to preserve those values and acculturate gradually to the norm of the American culture. However, this is not always true of the children of immigrant parents. In contrast, these children are developmentally more vulnerable to environmental influences and participate in the majority culture through schooling and peers. Over a period of time, if these differences are not addressed, intergenerational discrepancy in acculturation widens and may result in intergenerational-intercultural conflict.

Southeast Asian American families are at significant risk of intergenerational-intercultural conflict for several reasons, however, this literature review will discuss three of these main arguments. First is the circumstance of their migration. According to Kunz (1973), this factor is motivated by push factors such as preservation. Southeast Asians have been found to be less prepared to accept the American culture than voluntary Asian immigrants who have resided in the U.S. for the same number of years Ying & Han (2007).  Second, traumatic experiences have influenced Southeast Asian refugees' ability to raise / parent their children effectively, resulting in a weakened intergenerational bond and also increasing the risk of intergenerational conflict (Han, 2006).

As Asher (2008), gives an example of a high school student, Poonam, whose parents are of Indian origin and Poonam is the first generation American. According to Poonam, academic achievement at her high school was linked to effort, whereas at home only the highest grade was considered adequate. Asher (2008), in her article, explains:

Depends how hard you work, I know that I was taking AP Physics and working hard.... I was getting a C and so I dropped that. And I am working very hard at my regular Physics class now and I am getting an A.... They say that if you are working very hard at an AP class and you are getting a B+ that's very good, cuz they rarely give out A's in AP class. And my parents don't understand that. They expect an A in everything.

This is a clear example of intergenerational-intercultural conflict. Poonam, born in the U.S. feels that as long as she is making a sincere effort towards her academics, her achievements should be recognized. Whereas, her immigrant parents have different expectations and goals set for her. Poonam and her parents are not on the same page, as far as academics are concerned, this is where the intergenerational-intercultural conflict gains its prominence.

Dalla, R. L., Defrain, J., Johnson, J., & Abbott, D. A. (2009). Strengths and challenges of new immigrant families: Implications for research, education, policy, and service. New York: Lexington Books.

Kim, S. Y., Gonzales, N. A., Stroh, K., & Wang, J. (2006). Parent-child cultural marginalization and depressive symptoms in Asian American family members. Journal of Community Psychology, 34, 167-182.

Rothbaum, F., Pott, M., Azuma, H., Myake, K., & Weisz, J. (2000). The development of close relationships in Japan and the United States: Paths of symbiotic harmony and generative tension. Child Development, 71, 1121-1142.

Rudy, D., & Grusec, J. E. (2006). Authoritarian parenting in individualist and collective groups: Associations with maternal emotion and cognition and children's self-esteem. Journal of Family Psychology, 20, 68-78.

Sy, S. R., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2005). Parent beliefs and children's achievement trajectories during the transition to school in Asian American and European  American families. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 29(6),505-515.