Counter to the “model minority” stereotype, Asian American (AA) youth show a uniquely mixed pattern of behaviors. They report better academic performance, fewer externalizing problems (e.g., substance use, violence), but more internalizing problems (e.g., depression, suicide) than youth of other racial-ethnic groups. During emerging adulthood, the positive outcomes in AA youth do not seem to hold up, and poor mental health is exacerbated.
In fact, the suicide rate among young AA women is alarming, posing a serious public concern. In addition, AA youth subgroups dramatically differ in youth outcomes: some subgroups fare well while others struggle. However, our current knowledge is seriously limited in understanding how parenting and parent-child relations help or hinder youth development among AA youth. The existing family-process model, which is derived mainly from Western conceptualization, does not seem to be adequate to predict health and behavioral outcomes in AA youth. For example, the associations between parenting and youth behaviors among AA youth do not often show a conventional pattern but in fact reveal a paradoxical pattern. Cultures vary in parenting beliefs and behaviors and how they establish parent-child relations. In addition, like all other minority youth, AA youth face acculturation, having to negotiate between parental and mainstream cultures. However, culturally unique aspects of family process and the issue of acculturation are often neglected in the existing parenting research.
This study responds to the urgent need for reliable longitudinal data of AA youth, the fastest growing but one of the most understudied and misunderstood populations in the United States. This proposed study aims to formulate a culturally adequate family-process model that incorporates acculturation in family process to accurately explain the complex outcome patterns of AA youth. The study will collect annual longitudinal survey data from Filipino American and Korean American families in the state of Illinois (N=1,960; 350 youth, 350 mothers, and 280 fathers from 350 families with n=980 per group) with the following specific aims:
- To examine the concurrent and longitudinal associations of family process (parental beliefs, parental behaviors, and parent-child relations) with academic achievement, externalizing problems, and internalizing problems among AA youth.
- To delineate developmental trajectories and their determinants in family process for the three outcome domains during adolescence and through the transition to young adulthood among AA youth.
- To investigate the influences of acculturation on the ways family process is connected to youth outcomes and developmental trajectories among AA youth.
The results of this study will guide AA parents to preserve the aspects of their parenting that produce and maintain positive youth behaviors but to modify their parenting or adopt new strategies to prevent serious internalizing problems or worsening of those problems. The results also can guide parents of other race/ethnic groups to adopt AA parenting methods to help maximize their child’s potential growth without increasing mental-health problems.