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Journal of Family Psychology 2000, Vol. 14, No. 3, 420-435 Copyright 2000 by the American Psychological Association, Inc. 0893-3200/O0/$5.0D DOI: 10.1O37//O893-32OO.14.3.420 Parenting Practices and Adolescent Depressive Symptoms in Chinese American Families Su Yeong Kim and Xiaojia Ge University of California, Davis This study examined parenting practices and adolescent depressive symptoms among Chinese Americans. First, confirmatory factor analyses revealed that self- reported parenting practices by mothers and fathers and adolescent perception of parenting practices loaded adequately on three subscales: Inductive Reasoning, Monitoring, and Harsh Discipline. Second, parents' depressive symptoms were related to disrupted parenting practices, which, in turn, were significantly related to the negative evaluation of these behaviors by the adolescents. Adolescents' per- ceptions of such parenting practices were significantly associated with their de- pressive symptoms. Third, the relationships were robust even after parental income, education, and generation status were statistically controlled. Overall, the relation- ships between parenting practices and adolescent depressive symptoms among Chinese Americans seemed to echo those found among European Americans. The rising prevalence of depression during adolescence has drawn increased research atten- tion (Compas, Ey, & Grant, 1993; Ge, Lorenz, Conger, Elder, & Simons, 1994; Kandel & Da- Su Yeong Kim and Xiaojia Ge, Department of Human and Community Development, University of California, Davis. Support was provided through a Scott Mesh Hon- orary Scholarship for Research in Psychology from the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students; a Jastro-Shields Research Award from the University of California, Davis, College of Agricul- tural and Environmental Sciences; and a Graduate Research Mentorship Award from the University of California, Davis, Office of Graduate Studies. We would like to thank the administrators at the school district and the families that participated in the study. Research assistance is highly appreciated from Marilyn Luong, Selina Li, Wilson Luk, Sun-Mee Kang, Cindy Kwan-Yee Lau, Chor-Yi Wong, Charles Inada, Jenny Jiun-Ling Wang, Kunise Stroh, Laura Kawate, Marco Cordova, Elaine Chinn, and Elizabeth Wong. Valuable comments on an earlier version of this article were received from M. Brent Donnellan. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Su Yeong Kim, Department of Human and Community Development, University of Califor- nia, 1 Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616-8523. Electronic mail may be sent to vies, 1982; Radloff, 1991). Various factors that may explain this phenomenon have been exam- ined. One line of research involves investigation of the linkage between parenting and adolescent depressive symptoms. Research conducted among European American families suggests that the way parents interact with their children is related to adolescent depressive symptoms. For example, several studies (Ge, Best, Conger, & Simons, 1996; Ge, Conger, Lorenz, & Si- mons, 1994) have shown that parenting with warmth and involvement is negatively related to depressive symptoms and that parenting char- acterized by harshness and disciplinary incon- sistency is positively related to adolescent de- pressive symptoms in European American families. However, it is unclear whether similar relationships exist within ethnic minority fami- lies. To fill this gap in knowledge, the present study explored the relationship between parent- ing processes and adolescent depressive symp- toms using a sample of Chinese American fam- ilies, the largest Asian American ethnic group in the United States (Uba, 1994). Despite the popular "model minority" image, studies suggest that some Asian American adults do experience an elevated level of de- pressive symptoms (Aldwin & Greenberger, 1987; Kuo, 1984; Okazaki, 1997; Ying, 1995). Although studies on Asian American adoles- 420

Parenting Practices and Adolescent Depressive Symptoms in Chinese American Families

Nov 16, 2015




parenting styles and its effects on the depressive symptoms of chinese american students

  • Journal of Family Psychology2000, Vol. 14, No. 3, 420-435

    Copyright 2000 by the American Psychological Association, Inc.0893-3200/O0/$5.0D DOI: 10.1O37//O893-32OO.14.3.420

    Parenting Practices and Adolescent DepressiveSymptoms in Chinese American Families

    Su Yeong Kim and Xiaojia GeUniversity of California, Davis

    This study examined parenting practices and adolescent depressive symptomsamong Chinese Americans. First, confirmatory factor analyses revealed that self-reported parenting practices by mothers and fathers and adolescent perception ofparenting practices loaded adequately on three subscales: Inductive Reasoning,Monitoring, and Harsh Discipline. Second, parents' depressive symptoms wererelated to disrupted parenting practices, which, in turn, were significantly related tothe negative evaluation of these behaviors by the adolescents. Adolescents' per-ceptions of such parenting practices were significantly associated with their de-pressive symptoms. Third, the relationships were robust even after parental income,education, and generation status were statistically controlled. Overall, the relation-ships between parenting practices and adolescent depressive symptoms amongChinese Americans seemed to echo those found among European Americans.

    The rising prevalence of depression duringadolescence has drawn increased research atten-tion (Compas, Ey, & Grant, 1993; Ge, Lorenz,Conger, Elder, & Simons, 1994; Kandel & Da-

    Su Yeong Kim and Xiaojia Ge, Department ofHuman and Community Development, University ofCalifornia, Davis.

    Support was provided through a Scott Mesh Hon-orary Scholarship for Research in Psychology fromthe American Psychological Association of GraduateStudents; a Jastro-Shields Research Award from theUniversity of California, Davis, College of Agricul-tural and Environmental Sciences; and a GraduateResearch Mentorship Award from the University ofCalifornia, Davis, Office of Graduate Studies.

    We would like to thank the administrators at theschool district and the families that participated in thestudy. Research assistance is highly appreciated fromMarilyn Luong, Selina Li, Wilson Luk, Sun-MeeKang, Cindy Kwan-Yee Lau, Chor-Yi Wong,Charles Inada, Jenny Jiun-Ling Wang, Kunise Stroh,Laura Kawate, Marco Cordova, Elaine Chinn, andElizabeth Wong. Valuable comments on an earlierversion of this article were received from M. BrentDonnellan.

    Correspondence concerning this article should beaddressed to Su Yeong Kim, Department of Humanand Community Development, University of Califor-nia, 1 Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616-8523.Electronic mail may be sent to

    vies, 1982; Radloff, 1991). Various factors thatmay explain this phenomenon have been exam-ined. One line of research involves investigationof the linkage between parenting and adolescentdepressive symptoms. Research conductedamong European American families suggeststhat the way parents interact with their childrenis related to adolescent depressive symptoms.For example, several studies (Ge, Best, Conger,& Simons, 1996; Ge, Conger, Lorenz, & Si-mons, 1994) have shown that parenting withwarmth and involvement is negatively related todepressive symptoms and that parenting char-acterized by harshness and disciplinary incon-sistency is positively related to adolescent de-pressive symptoms in European Americanfamilies. However, it is unclear whether similarrelationships exist within ethnic minority fami-lies. To fill this gap in knowledge, the presentstudy explored the relationship between parent-ing processes and adolescent depressive symp-toms using a sample of Chinese American fam-ilies, the largest Asian American ethnic group inthe United States (Uba, 1994).

    Despite the popular "model minority" image,studies suggest that some Asian Americanadults do experience an elevated level of de-pressive symptoms (Aldwin & Greenberger,1987; Kuo, 1984; Okazaki, 1997; Ying, 1995).Although studies on Asian American adoles-



    cents are fewer than those involving adults,there is some evidence that adolescents alsoexhibit elevated distress levels (Kim & Chun,1993). Important progress has been made inidentifying some of the possible predictors ofdepressive symptoms among Asian Americans,including different cultural orientations (Ying,1995), recency of arrival (Kuo, 1984), and typeof self-construal (Okazaki, 1997). Relativelyfew studies, however, have explored the signif-icance of family processes in adolescent depres-sive symptoms.

    Previous studies of Asian American parent-ing practices tended to focus on the averagedifferences between Asian and European Amer-ican parents. In comparison with their EuropeanAmerican counterparts, Asian American parentsare described as more controlling, stricter indiscipline, and more restrictive (Chao, 1994;Kelley & Tseng, 1992; Steinberg, Dombusch,& Brown, 1992). When individual differenceswithin Asian Americans are examined, studieshave primarily focused on the relationship be-tween parenting practices and students1 aca-demic achievement (Dombusch, Ritter, Leider-man, Roberts, & Fraieigh, 1987; Steinberg etal., 1992). Relatively little attention has beenpaid to individual differences in Chinese Amer-ican parenting practices and their associationwith adolescent socioemotional developmentaloutcomes.

    There is some evidence to suggest that, de-spite the significant mean differences in parent-ing practices between Asian and EuropeanAmericans, the association between parentingbehaviors and some psychological outcomesappears to be similar. For example, Steinberg,Mounts, Lamborn, and Dombusch (1991) re-ported that authoritative parenting, conceptual-ized as a composite of acceptance-involvement,firm control, and democratic discipline, is asso-ciated with less depressive symptoms amongAsian American adolescents. Other studies havealso shown that warm parenting is negativelyrelated to depressive symptoms among adoles-cents of both European and Asian descent(Chiu, Feldman, & Rosenthal, 1992; Green-berger & Chen, 1996). Collectively, the re-search suggests that, within Asian Americanfamilies, parenting practices characterized byhigher levels of warmth, involvement, and dem-ocratic disciplinary practices are associatedwith decreased levels of adolescent adjustment

    problems. On the basis of these findings, weexpected that Asian American adolescentswhose parents were more involved with theirlives through monitoring their activities wouldmanifest fewer depressive symptoms. We alsoexpected that those adolescents whose parentsused more reasoning in their disciplinary prac-tices would display fewer depressive symptoms.

    Although parental warmth has been found tobe associated with less depressive symptomsamong Chinese or Chinese American adoles-cents (Chiu et al., 1992; Greenberger & Chen,1996), the relationship between parenting di-mensions other than warmth and adolescent de-pressive symptoms is less well explored. Thismay be due in part to limited understanding ofparenting practices among Asian Americans.When examining parenting practices in ChineseAmericans, researchers remain uncertain as towhich aspects of parenting other than warmthmay be related to adolescent depressive symp-toms. For example, whereas Chiu et al. (1992)examined parental control and involvement,Greenberger and Chen (1996) focused on fam-ily conflict and cohesion. The inconsistencyacross previous studies in the assessment ofparenting practices suggests a need for a carefulexamination of measurement strategies. Thus,the first phase of this study was devoted to anexamination of several parenting dimensionsamong Chinese American families.

    Moreover, the existing studies of AsianAmerican parenting practices typically adoptedBaumrind's (1991) parenting typology (Dom-busch et al., 1987; Leung, Lau, & Lam, 1998).Recently, however, Chao (1994) and Gonzales,Cauce, and Mason (1996) cautioned that such aframework may not be entirely appropriate forassessing parents from other cultures. In light ofthese warnings, the first phase of the studysought to ensure the adequacy of the measures.In doing so, we examined whether several par-enting dimensions developed for EuropeanAmericans, such as inductive reasoning, moni-toring, and harsh discipline, would be appropri-ate to the study of parenting practices amongChinese American families.

    Studies of Asian American parenting typi-cally adopt measures used with EuropeanAmericans (Chiu et al., 1992; Steinberg et al.,1991). Although ethnic differences have beenobserved (Chao, 1994; Gonzales et al., 1996),researchers have not adequately explored

  • 422 KIM AND GE

    whether parenting items used to assess induc-tive reasoning, monitoring, and harsh disciplinein European Americans would be appropriatefor the assessment of Chinese American parent-ing. It is plausible to expect Chinese Americanparents who are high in inductive reasoning toprovide more explanations, give reasons fortheir decisions, ask their adolescent for opinionswhen making decisions, and explain rules totheir adolescent. Similarly, Chinese Americanparents who are high in monitoring are expectedto know the whereabouts of their adolescent,whom their adolescent is with, and whethertheir adolescent complies with the set bedtime.Conversely, Chinese American parents who arehigh in harsh discipline may be more likely tospank and hit their adolescent or lock the ado-lescent out of the house. In other words,whereas the level at which parents use certainparenting practices may differ across ethnicity,items making up the dimensions should showa certain degree of similarity regardless ofethnicity.

    Previous research typically examined the in-fluence of parents on Asian American adoles-cent developmental outcomes using child re-ports of parenting behaviors. In the presentstudy, data from multiple informants, includingmothers, fathers, and adolescents, were mod-eled with a confirmatory factor-analyticalframework to provide a more comprehensiveunderstanding of Chinese American family pro-cesses. Two general hypotheses guided this firstphase of analyses. First, we hypothesized thatthree dimensions of parenting practices (i.e.,harsh discipline, inductive reasoning, and mon-itoring) would emerge, as evidenced by (a) anadequate fit of a measurement model to our dataand (b) satisfactory factor loadings of the as-sessment items on the latent dimensions. Sec-ond, this three-dimensional factor pattern wouldbe similar across multiple informants, as evi-denced by (a) a consistent pattern across multi-ple informants and (b) a general absence ofsignificant differences in estimated factorloadings.

    The second phase of this study was devotedto testing a process model linking parents' de-pressive symptoms, parenting practices, and ad-olescent depressive symptoms. Three generalhypotheses were tested. First, we hypothesizedthat parents' depressive symptoms would beassociated with their parenting practices. This

    hypothesis was derived from Downey andCoyne (1990), who suggested that depressionacts to reduce a parent's ability to carry outeffective parenting tasks. According to theseauthors, depressed mood may increase irritableresponses by parents toward their children andhinder their level of involvement with them.Indeed, Conger, Conger, Elder, and Lorenz(1992) have shown that depressed mood signif-icantly increases harsh and hostile disciplinarypractices among European American parents. Inthe current study, we expected depressivesymptoms of parents to be negatively associatedwith parenting practices characterized by mon-itoring and inductive reasoning techniques andpositively related to parenting practices charac-terized by harsh disciplining.

    Second, we hypothesized that the way par-ents interact with their adolescent child wouldbe significantly related to the adolescent's ap-praisal of these behaviors. In other words, howparents behave toward their children signifi-cantly influences the cognitive evaluation ofthese behaviors by the adolescent. An increas-ing number of studies suggest that adolescents'cognitive evaluation of parenting plays an im-portant role in their emotional development. Forexample, Harold, Osborne, and Conger (1997)have recently shown that adolescents* percep-tions of parenting behaviors are directly associ-ated with their developmental outcomes. Draw-ing on this line of research, we expected thatself-reported parenting practices by mothersand fathers would be significantly related toadolescents' perceptions of parenting practices.

    Finally, we hypothesized that how adoles-cents perceived parenting practices would besignificantly associated with their own depres-sive symptoms. This hypothesis is consistentwith Conger et al. (1992) and Patterson, De-Baryshe, and Ramsey (1989), who suggestedthat disrupted parenting practices are signifi-cantly related to adverse adolescent outcomes.It is also consistent with Harold et al.'s (1997)finding that the child's perception of parentalhostility has a direct effect on child maladjust-ment. On the basis of these findings, we ex-pected that adolescents' evaluations of parent-ing practices would be significantly associatedwith their own depressive symptoms. Specifi-cally, we expected that parenting practices char-acterized by higher degrees of harshness andlower degrees of monitoring and inductive rea-


    sorting would be associated with reports of moreadolescent depressive symptoms. We reasonedthat a higher level of perceived harshness fromparents would heighten adolescents' feelings ofhostility from their surroundings, which in turnwould increase their sense of hopelessness anddecrease their sense of self-worth. Similarly,adolescents who perceive a lack of monitoringby their parents may experience increased feel-ings of parental irresponsibility, which may re-sult in an increased sense of helplessness. Fi-nally, parents1 lack of inductive reasoning andexplanation may exacerbate an adolescent'ssense of uncertainty and sense of frustration,which are important components of depressivesymptoms.

    Despite the theoretical appeal of the preced-ing hypotheses, limited research has been di-rectly tailored toward testing these hypothe-sized relationships among Asian Americanadolescents. We are not aware of any studiesthat have examined the relationship betweenharsh disciplinary practices and depressivesymptoms in this population. One study (Chiuet al., 1992) did include items related to parentalmonitoring. However, the monitoring itemswere combined with items related to parentalschool engagement to form a composite vari-able. In another study (Steinberg et al., 1991),questions similar to the parental monitoring di-mension were subsumed under the authoritativeparenting construct. Although Chiu et al. (1992)reported no significant association betweenschool engagement-monitoring and adolescentdepressive symptoms, Steinberg et al. (1991)reported a significant association between au-thoritative parenting and adolescent depressivesymptoms. It is apparent that a clear associationbetween the monitoring dimension and adoles-cent depressive symptoms remains to be inves-tigated. Although studies have examined ethnicdifferences in parental use of inductive reason-ing (Kelley & Tseng, 1992; Kobayashi-Winata& Power, 1989), it is unclear whether, within agroup, those adolescents who perceive their par-ents to be higher in levels of inductive reason-ing would show lower levels of depressivesymptoms.

    In the third phase of the study, we sought totest the robustness of the hypothesized relation-ships by statistically controlling for adolescentgender and parent generation status, income,and education. Gender was selected because

    several studies have reported significant genderdifferences in depressive symptoms during ad-olescence (Ge, Lorenz, et al., 1994; Nolen-Hoeksema & Girgus, 1994). The remainingcontrol variables were selected because of thesalient roles they play in ethnic minority familyprocesses (Garcia Coll, Meyer, & Brillon, 1995;Uba, 1994). The research focus during thisphase was on the possible alteration of esti-mated relationships among the variables in themodel after the inclusion of control variables.We anticipated that first-generation status ofparents would be related to more adolescentdepressive symptoms as a result of intergenera-tional conflicts in immigrant families (e.g.,Dinh, Sarason, & Sarason, 1994; Rumbaut,1994). We also predicted that higher incomeand education levels of parents would relate tolower levels of depressive symptoms amongadolescents, mothers, and fathers, consonantwith the large body of literature showing anegative relationship between socioeconomicstatus and depressive symptoms (e.g., Dohren-wend, 1990). We hypothesized that the modeltested in the second phase of the study wouldnot be significantly altered after the inclusion ofthese control variables. That is, we expectedthat the models should remain fit to the data andthat the structural coefficients would not besignificantly reduced.

    In all three phases of analyses, we modeledour data separately for mothers and fathers.Previous research on Asian American parentingpractices relied almost exclusively on data con-cerning mothers (Chao, 1996; Chen, Green-berger, Lester, Dong, & Guo, 1998). This canbe attributed to the view that Asian Americanmothers assume the primary caregiving role asopposed to Asian American fathers (Uba,1994). Given the importance of fathering sug-gested by Parke (1996) and Lamb (1997), thisstudy explored the role of both mothers1 andfathers1 parenting practices in adolescent de-pressive symptoms.



    Participants were recruited from four middleschools in a major metropolitan area of northernCalifornia. With the aid of school administrators, theresearchers identified all Chinese American students.All eligible families were then sent a letter describing

  • 424 KIM AND GE

    the research project and were informed that a re-search assistant would be contacting them by tele-phone to request their participation in the studywithin a few weeks. Bilingual research assistantswere available to contact families whose home lan-guage was not English. After phone consent had beenobtained, questionnaires for the mother, father, andtarget adolescent in the family were mailed to thehome. Participants were instructed to complete thequestionnaires alone and to not discuss answers withfriends or family members. They were also instructedto seal their questionnaires in the envelopes providedimmediately after completing their responses. Withinapproximately 3-5 weeks of sending the question-naire packet, researchers visited each middle schooltwice to collect the completed questionnaires on des-ignated days during the students' lunch period. Tar-get adolescents returning the family questionnaireswere compensated a nominal amount of money fortheir participation.


    Intact families were recruited to examine the in-fluence of both mothers and fathers on adolescentoutcome. From a pool of 254 families, 59 familiesdeclined to participate. Of the 195 families thatagreed to participate in the study, 56% of adoles-cents, 52% of mothers, and 50% of fathers returnedcompleted questionnaires. However, responses from14 adolescents, 15 mothers, and 14 fathers weredropped as a result of mixed race-ethnicity mar-riages or parental divorce. The final sample consistedof 95 adolescents (52% female) along with 86 moth-ers and 84 fathers. One study (Chen et aL, 1998) witha similar study design reported a comparable partic-ipation rate of 58% for Chinese American mothers.Comparable participation rates for adolescents andfathers were not available. The participation rate inthe present study was well above the 30% averageparticipation rate for mailed surveys (Cauce, Ryan, &Grove, 1998).

    The families were of working-class to middle-classbackgrounds. The mean family income level wasslightly under $40,000 a year, with the average parentcompleting high school but not college. Eighty-eightpercent of mothers and 86% of fathers were em-ployed. The largest self-reported category for occu-pation was professional (mother, 26%; father, 45%).Average ages were 43.58 years for mothers and 47.24years for fathers. Average length of marriage wasabout 18 years. Most parents were immigrants (77%of mothers and 74% of fathers). Among the latergenerations, parents were more likely to be secondgeneration (mother, 14%; father, 18%) than thirdgeneration or beyond (mother, 9%; father, 8%). Themajority (70%) of couples were of the same genera-tion status. Couples of different generations weremore likely to be non-immigrants. The mean age of

    adolescent respondents was 13.05 years (SD 0.75),representative of seventh (52%) and eighth grades(48%). The majority of adolescents were born in theUnited States, with 58% being second generation and27% being third generation and beyond. Only 15% ofthe adolescents were immigrants. The high propor-tions of first-generation parents and second-generation adolescents in this study parallel nationaldemographic patterns for Chinese Americans (Portes& Zhou, 1993; Zhou & Bankston, 1998).

    As a means of including first-generation parentswhose language of preference for completing ques-tionnaires was not English, parent questionnaireswere prepared in English and Chinese. The question-naires were first translated to Chinese and then back-translated to English. Any inconsistencies with theoriginal English version scale were then resolved bytwo bilingual speakers with careful consideration ofculturally appropriate meanings of items. Fifty-twopercent of mothers and 55% of fathers completed theEnglish version questionnaires, and the other mothersand fathers completed Chinese version questionnaires.


    Parenting practices. Parenting practices wereassessed through a scale adapted from the IowaYouth and Families Project (Conger, Patterson, &Ge, 1995; Ge et al., 1996). Using a scale rangingfrom 1 (always) to 7 (never), respondents rated 10items intended to measure three dimensions of par-enting: inductive reasoning (e.g., give reasons fordecisions and explain rules), monitoring (e.g., knowwhereabouts of adolescent, whom adolescent is with,and whether the adolescent complies with the setbedtime), and harsh discipline (e.g., spank, hit, orlock adolescent out of the house). These measureswere internally consistent, with alpha coefficientsranging from .64 to .83 (Table 1). There were nomajor differences in internal consistencies across lan-guage versions. Because the statistical distribution ofthe harsh discipline dimension was skewed for allinformants, these items were log-transformed.

    Depressive symptoms. Depressive symptomswere assessed with the Center for EpidemiologicStudies Depression Scale (CES-D; Radloff, 1977).

    Table 1Internal Consistency Alpha Coefficients forParenting Practices Measure


    Inductive reasoningMonitoringHarsh discipline


    Mother Father

    .71 .82

    .64 .75

    .81 .78











    This 20-item scale has been found to be reliable foruse with adults as well as adolescents (Radloff.1991). It has been used in many studies involvingadolescents from both European (e.g., Ge et al., 1996;Lamborn, Mounts, Steinberg, & Dornbusch, 1991)and Asian (e.g., Chiu et al., 1992; Greenberger &Chen, 1996) ancestries. Using a scale ranging from 0{rarely or none of the time) to 3 (most or all of thetime), respondents rated their depressed affect (e.g.,lonely or sad), positive affect (e.g., happy or hope-ful), somatic symptoms (e.g., poor appetite or restlesssleep), and interpersonal problems (e.g., people areunfriendly). The measure indicated good internalconsistencies across adolescents (a = .88), mothers(a = .91), and fathers (a = .89). No major differ-ences were found in the internal consistencies acrosslanguage versions. We also log-transformed theCES-D measure because of its skewness. Descriptivestatistics and zero-order correlations for all studyvariables are presented in the Appendix.

    Demographic variables. Information was col-lected on demographic characteristics such as age,years of marriage, family income, ethnicity, highestlevel of education completed, and generation status.Both mothers and fathers were queried regardingannual gross family income. Generation status wasdetermined by considering the U.S.-born or foreign-born status of the respondent and his or her parents.The first-generation or immigrant designation wasassigned to individuals born outside the United Sta-tus. The second-generation designation was assignedto individuals born in the United States with a parentborn outside the United States. The third-generationdesignation was assigned to individuals born in theUnited States with a parent who was also bom in theUnited States. Fourth-generation status and fifth-generation status were determined accordingly.


    Measurement Model of ParentingDimensions

    The first phase of the analyses examined theadequacy of the hypothesized parenting dimen-sions for use with Asian Americans because theparenting scales were originally developed forEuropean Americans. The confirmatory factor-analytical model for the three hypothesized par-enting dimensions is presented in Figure 1. Inthis model, the A coefficients represent the fac-tor loadings of the 10 items on the three hypoth-esized parenting latent constructs: inductivereasoning, monitoring, and harsh discipline.These latent constructs were also hypothesizedto be intercorrelated, as indicated by the i/r co-efficients. This model was tested for (a) adoles-cents' perceptions of mothers' parenting, (b)adolescents' perceptions of fathers' parenting,(c) self-reported parenting by mothers, and (d)self-reported parenting by fathers.

    Table 2 presents the descriptions of the par-enting items, model fit indexes, and standard-ized and unstandardized coefficients based onmaximum-likelihood estimates for each of thefour models. Items making up the parentingdimensions were confirmed as hypothesized.The model tested showed a nonsignificant chi-square value with multiple fit indexes above .90.Meeting these criteria indicates a reasonablygood fit, as suggested by Tanaka (1987) andMarsh, Balla, and McDonald (1988). The only

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7

    Figure 1. Measurement model of Chinese American parenting dimensions. The psi (t/r) coefficients refer tointercorrelations among the latent constructs.

  • 426 KIM AND GE

    Table 2Maximum-Likelihood Estimates for Measurement Model of ParentingDimensions for Chinese Americans

    Dimension and item

    Inductive reasoning (t/rl)A U . Talk to childA2,l. Give reasons for decisionsA3,l. Ask opinion about decisionsA4.1. Explain rules

    Monitoring (*//2)A5,2. Whereabouts of childA6,2. Whom child is withA.7,2. In bed by set time

    Harsh discipline (i/>3)A8,3. SpankA9,3. Lock out of houseA10,3. Hit

    Interrelationships among parentingdimensions

    $2. 1. Monitoring, inductivereasoning

    ij/3. 1. Harsh discipline, inductivereasoning

    t//3. 2. Harsh discipline.monitoring


    Adolescent perception














    - . 3 1

    - . 6 6 .




















    - . 2 0 "

    - . 3 2





















    - . 6 0

    - . 8 4








    > STD












    - . 4 0

    - . 4 9






    Note. Maximum-likelihood estimates were significant at p < .05 level except where indicated. Subscript aidentifies significant differences in unstandardized maximum-likelihood estimates between adolescent reportof mother and mother self-report; subscript b identifies significant differences between adolescent report offather and father serf-report; and subscript c identifies significant differences between mother and fatherself-reports. STD = standardized estimate; UNSTD = unstandardized estimate; GFI = goodness-of-fit index;CFI = comparative fit index; IFI = incremental fit index.a Marginally significant atp < .10.

    exception involved the model of mothers' self-reported parenting (goodness-of-fit index [GFI]= .89). This model, however, had comparativefit index (CFI) and incremental fit index (IFI)values of .95 with a nonsignificant chi-squarevalue, suggesting an acceptable model fit.

    As shown in Table 2, the analyses revealedthat the 10 items used to assess parenting prac-tices all significantly loaded on the three par-enting dimensions. The standardized lambdacoefficients ranged from .48 (A72) to .93 (A103).The lowest loading for adolescents' perceptionsof both mothers' and fathers' parenting in-volved the item concerning how often parents

    know their adolescent is in bed by the set time(A72). No consistent pattern of low loadingsappeared for self-reported parenting by mothersand fathers. Taken together, the resulting sig-nificant factor loadings for these models suggestthat the 10 items developed for European Amer-icans were, in general, adequate measures of thethree latent parenting constructs in ChineseAmericans.

    The standardized coefficient estimates of theintercorrelations (i/r's) among the latent con-structs for the four models ranged from - .20(p < .10) between fathers' harsh discipline andinductive reasoning perceived by adolescents to


    .87 (p < .01) between fathers* self-reportedmonitoring and inductive reasoning. The coef-ficients were all statistically significant exceptfor the marginally significant relationship be-tween fathers1 harsh discipline and inductivereasoning as perceived by adolescents. It ap-peared that for adolescents, as well as for par-ents, the harsher parents are as disciplinarians,the less likely they are to monitor their adoles-cent and use inductive reasoning in their par-enting practices. The significant correlation co-efficients between monitoring and inductivereasoning across the four models (ranging from.56, p < .05, to .87, p < .05) suggest thatparents who use inductive reasoning in theirparenting practices are more likely to monitortheir adolescents' behaviors.

    To examine how parents and their adoles-cents conceive parenting practices, we con-ducted three sets of comparisons using multi-group comparison procedures in structuralequation modeling (Jbreskog & SOrbom, 1996).These analyses were performed to determinewhether there were significant differencesamong (a) adolescents' perceptions of mothers'parenting and self-reports by mothers, (b) ado-lescents' perceptions of fathers' parenting andself-reports by fathers, and (c) self-reported par-enting practices by mothers and fathers. Thesecomparisons were made by constraining themodels to be equivalent between the two groupsunder comparison. We then relaxed the equiv-alence constraints to determine whether the chi-square statistic changed significantly. A signif-icant change in chi-square would provideevidence that there was a significant differencein how the parenting items were conceived be-tween the two groups.

    The results from these comparisons suggestthat there was no significant overall differencebetween adolescents and their mothers, Ax^lO,N = 156) = 7.99, p > .05, or between spouses,A^CIO, N = 149) = 10.12, p > .05. There was,however, a significant overall difference be-tween adolescents and their fathers, Aj^ClO,N = 160) = 35.05, p < .05. To investigatewhich specific items were differentially con-ceived by adolescents and their fathers, we fur-ther compared the factor loadings for the 10items. Three of the 10 items (explain rules,know whereabouts of child, and know whomchild is with) were found to be significantlydifferent between adolescents and their fathers

    (see Table 2). Interestingly, 2 of them con-cerned the monitoring construct (know where-abouts of the child and know whom the child iswith). Taken together, the results suggest that,overall, adolescents and their mothers con-ceived parenting dimensions in a similar way.There also was no apparent difference betweenfathers and mothers in their conceptions ofvarious parenting dimensions. It appeared thatadolescents and fathers tended to conceive par-enting dimensions somewhat differently, partic-ularly in the area of monitoring.

    We next examined whether relationshipsamong the three parenting dimensions would bedifferent across multiple informants. Therewere significant differences between adoles-cents and their parents as well as betweenspouses: adolescents and mothers, A^2(3, N =156) = 8.49, p < .05; adolescents and fathers,A^(3, N = 160) = 25.35, p < .05; andspouses, A*2^, N = 149) = 9.41, p < .05.Further examination indicates that the differ-ence between adolescents and mothers wasmainly attributable to the difference in the mag-nitude of relationship between monitoring andharsh discipline, (^3i2) wherein the magnitudeof the negative correlation was significantlysmaller for adolescents' perceptions of mothers'parenting. Another relationship, that betweenmonitoring and inductive reasoning, ( t ^ ) wasstatistically different between spouses and be-tween adolescents' perceptions of fathers' par-enting and self-reports by fathers. These resultssuggest that there were some differences be-tween informants in the magnitudes of the rela-tionships among parenting dimensions, particu-larly in comparison with fathers' self-reportedparenting.

    Despite some differences in the parentingconceptualization, we decided to treat the par-enting dimensions in the same manner for allinformants for three reasons. First, we wantedour parenting dimensions to be driven by theoryrather than based on the results of the factorcoefficients. We therefore considered the facevalidity of the questions for all informants. Sec-ond, treating the parenting dimension in a dis-similar way across informants would create aninconsistency across analyses, leading to diffi-culty in interpretation of the results. If a differ-ence existed, one would not be certain whetherit was due to a real difference or due to adifference in the selection of parenting items

  • 428 KIM AND GE

    across informants. Finally, when we examinedthe standardized factor loadings, we did not seedramatic differences in the factor loadingsacross informants.

    Structural Model Linking ParentingPractices to Adolescent DepressiveSymptoms

    We used structural equation modeling to testour hypotheses that (a) depressive symptoms ofparents would be associated with their parentingpractices, (b) parenting practices reported byparents would be significantly associated withadolescents' evaluation of parenting practices,and (c) adolescents' perception of parentingpractices would be significantly associated withtheir depressive symptoms. The resulting stan-dardized coefficients for the tested model areprovided in Figure 2. Results involving mothersare presented above those involving fathers. Inthis model, parenting practices is a latent con-struct consisting of harsh discipline, inductivereasoning, and monitoring. Because the threeparenting dimensions were highly correlated(see Appendix), clustering them together as alatent construct provided a meaningful way tocircumvent the problems of multicollinearityand measurement errors. Residuals (e) for thesame parenting dimensions were allowed to cor-

    relate between adolescents and parents becauseof the possible method variance resulting fromthe same measures used by the informants. Thecorrelated measurement errors are not enumer-ated for figure clarity. The Appendix providesmeans, standard deviations, and zero-order cor-relations for all variables examined in themodel.

    As shown in Figure 2, both mothers' andfathers' models yielded a good fit to the data:mothers, ;^(16, N = $3) = 17.46, p = .36,GFI = .95, CFI = .90, IFI = .99, and fathers,^ (16 , # = 82) = 29.14, p = .02, GFI = .92,CFI = .90, IFI = .91. These fit indexes areconsidered acceptable according to Tanaka's(1987) suggestion for a minimum p value of .01.The tests of equivalence between the models formothers and fathers showed no significant dif-ference between them. Therefore, for compara-tive purposes, we retained the fathers' modelunmodified.

    In Figure 2, it can be seen that depressivesymptoms of parents were negatively related toparenting practices that are characterized by lowharshness and high inductive reasoning andmonitoring for both mothers (/321 ~ .48, p

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