Language Brokering and Adjustment Among Chinese and Korean American Adolescents: A Moderated Mediation Model of Perceived Maternal Sacrifice, Respect for the Mother, and Mother–Child Open Communication

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Abstract

Asian American adolescents often language broker for their immigrant parents. Using a 2-wave sample of Chinese American (n = 237; average age at W1 = 14.65, SD = .68) and Korean American (n = 262; average age at W1 = 14.72, SD = .69) adolescents, this study examined a culturally relevant conditional mechanism through which language brokering may contribute to lower levels of internalizing/externalizing problems. Results suggested that language brokering for the mother was associated with perceived maternal sacrifice, which was in turn associated with respect for the mother, which was eventually associated with lower levels of externalizing problems (but not internalizing problems) in the adolescents. Moreover, the indirect effect was conditional on the level of mother–child open communication. With a lower level of open communication, the indirect effect of language brokering on externalizing problems became stronger. Results indicate that interventions designed to reduce Asian American adolescent language brokers’ externalizing problems may be effective if they target adolescents’ perceptions of parental sacrifice and respect for parents, especially for those adolescents experiencing a low level of parent–child open communication. At the same time, increasing open communication within the family may also ultimately reduce adolescent externalizing problems.

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