Acculturation, Psychological Adjustment, and Parenting Styles of Chinese Immigrant Mothers in the United States

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Objectives: This study examined whether acculturation to American culture, maintenance of Chinese culture, and their interaction predicted Chinese immigrant parents’ psychological adjustment and parenting styles. We hypothesized that American orientation would be associated with more positive psychological well-being and fewer depressive symptoms in immigrant mothers, which in turn would be associated with more authoritative parenting and less authoritarian parenting. The examination of the roles of Chinese orientation and the interaction of the 2 cultural orientations in relation to psychological adjustment and parenting were exploratory. Method: Participants were 164 first-generation Chinese immigrant mothers in the United States (Mage = 37.80). Structural equation modeling was used to examine the direct and indirect effects of acculturation on psychological adjustment and parenting. Bootstrapping technique was used to explore the conditional indirect effects of acculturation on parenting as appropriate. Results: American orientation was strongly associated with positive psychological well-being, which was in turn related to more authoritative parenting and less authoritarian parenting. Moreover, American and Chinese orientations interacted to predict depressive symptoms, which were in turn associated with more authoritarian parenting. Specifically, American orientation was negatively associated with depressive symptoms only at mean or high levels of Chinese orientation. Conclusions: Results suggest acculturation as a distal contextual factor and psychological adjustment as 1 critical mechanism that transmits effects of acculturation to parenting. Promoting immigrant parents’ ability and comfort in the new culture independently or in conjunction with encouraging biculturalism through policy intervention efforts appear crucial for the positive adjustment of Chinese immigrant parents and children.

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