A Longitudinal Study of Family Obligation and Depressive Symptoms Among Chinese American Adolescents

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The purpose of this 2-year, 3-wave longitudinal study of Chinese American adolescents was to examine how family obligation behaviors and attitudes change over time; how gender, nativity, and birth order predict these trajectories; and whether family obligation relates to depressive symptoms. Findings suggest that family obligation behaviors decreased over the 2-year period but that family obligation attitudes were stable. Moreover, foreign-born adolescents reported higher levels of family obligation behavior than U.S.-born adolescents, and firstborn adolescents reported higher family obligation attitudes than laterborn adolescents. There were no gender differences in family obligation behaviors or attitudes. The findings also suggest that initial higher levels of family obligation were associated with subsequently fewer depressive symptoms. Finally, changes in family obligation behaviors related to changes in depressive symptoms over time such that increasing family obligation behaviors related to decreasing depressive symptoms. The results highlight the importance of understanding the role of family obligation to Chinese American adolescents' mental health.

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