The socialization of ethnic identity among Chinese adolescents of immigrants: an evaluation of the predictors of parental enculturation and adolescents' ethnic identity.




Su, Tina F.

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Cultural socialization of adolescents’ ethnic identity is associated with the context surrounding adolescents and their families. Cross-sectional data collected from Canadian immigrant Chinese families (N = 183) were used to investigate the role of parents in adolescents’ ethnic identity development. Study 1 examined direct and moderated relations (i.e., adolescents’ gender, age, and parents’ perceptions of discrimination) between parents’ ethnic identity and cultural orientation goals for their adolescents and parental enculturation efforts. Study 2 examined direct and moderated relations (i.e., adolescents’ gender, age, parental warmth, presence of grandparents and adolescents’ reports of discrimination) among parental enculturation and the number of Chinese friends, and adolescents’ ethnic identity (both ethnic identity achievement and ethnic affirmation and belonging). Study 1 results showed that parents’ ethnic identity and Chinese and Canadian cultural orientation goals for their adolescents were directly associated with their enculturation efforts. Fathers’ reports of discrimination moderated the relations between his Chinese cultural orientation goals for his adolescent and his enculturation efforts. Specifically, this relationship was particularly strong among fathers who reported lower levels of discrimination. These findings suggest that immigrant Chinese parents’ decision to engage in enculturation may be intrinsically motivated. Study 2 results showed that parental enculturation, maternal warmth, and adolescents’ reports of discrimination contributed to adolescents’ ethnic identity achievement. These results suggest that adolescents’ ethnic identity achievement may be supported by opportunities for adolescents to learn about their ethnic culture through parental enculturation and think about their ethnicity through experiences of discrimination. In comparison, adolescents’ feelings of ethnic affirmation and belonging were related to mother-father enculturation differences, the number of Chinese friends, and maternal warmth. These findings suggest that feelings of ethnic affirmation and belonging for adolescents may be supported by flexibility related to mothers and fathers engaging in differing levels of enculturation, and autonomy related to adolescents having more Chinese friends. Adolescents’ age moderated the relations between fathers’ enculturation efforts and adolescents’ ethnic identity achievement. The few moderated findings further underscored the importance of parents in Chinese adolescents’ ethnic identity development.



Ethnic identity, Parental enculturation, Immigration, Chinese families, Adolescents