Impact of Youth Cultural Orientation on Perception of Family Process and Development Among Korean Americans

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Objectives: This study examined how cultural orientations influence youth perception of family processes in Korean American families and how these family processes, in turn, predict depressive symptoms and antisocial behaviors among youth. Family processes were examined separately for maternal and paternal variables. Method: This study used survey data from Korean American families living in the Midwest (256 youth and their parents) across 2 time periods, spanned over a year. At the time of the first interview, the average age of youth was 13 (SD = 1.00). Using structural equation modeling, this study tested the hypothesized associations concurrently, longitudinally, and accounting for earlier outcomes. Results and Conclusion: Results show that identity and behavioral enculturation in one’s heritage culture are predictors of bonding with parents, which is notably protective for youth. The results highlight the critical effect of enculturation in enhancing youth perception of the parent–child relationship. Behavioral acculturation to mainstream culture, in contrast, predicts youth problems, although the effect may not necessarily always be via family processes. Similarly, Korean and English language proficiencies predict fewer youth problems, but not always by way of family processes. A few differences emerged across maternal and paternal variables, although there was much commonality in the hypothesized relationships.

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