Parenting of Young Immigrant Chinese Children: Challenges Facing Their Social- Emotional and Intellectual Development
Immigration is one of the major factors contributing to the rapid increase in minority population, predicted to account for half the US population by the year 2050 (García Coll, 2001), as discussed by Hernandez, Denton, and Macartney in this volume. Among the diverse immigrant population, Asians are one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in the US (Harwood, Leyendecker, & Carlson, 2002). The term “Asian” refers to any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent; for example, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia (Barnes & Bennett, 2002). Compared to an increase of 13.2% for the total population between 1990 and 2000, the Asian population grew by 48% (3.3 million) from 6.9 million to 10.2 million. As of 2000, 3.6% of the total US population was Asian. According to the 2000 census, Chinese was the largest Asian ethnic group in the US (Barnes & Bennett, 2002). The terms “Chinese” may be represented by people mainly from three different geographic designations, including the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.), Hong Kong, and Taiwan (Chao, 2002). Many Chinese immigrants also came from other geographic destinations such as Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam. Of the 8.2 million foreign-born Asian Americans, 1.5 million were from China, making China the leading source of foreign-born Asians in the US (Malone, Baluja, Costanzo, & Davis, 2003). Not only is there rapid increase in this immigrant population, but this population is also generally younger than the European American population (García Coll, 2001). The Census Bureau Reports cited an increase in the school-age population (ages 5-17 yrs) in the past few years, due to the increasing number of children of new immigrants. Chinese immigrant children also reflect this trend (Jamieson, 2001). However, the dramatic increase in this child population stands in sharp contrast with little research on these children. The limited research, mostly on older children, indicates a peculiar picture: higher socioemotional challenges and difficulties despite their general good achievement in school. How do Chinese immigrant children develop? What are familial and larger contextual factors that influence their adaptation to a new culture? What enables them to fare better and what makes them particularly vulnerable in this new environment? There is a pressing need to address these and other issues that impact this large Asian American population. In this chapter, we examine an important topic of Chinese immigrant (ChI) children’s development: the parental socialization practices by families with young
children. We focus on the two essential areas of socioemotional development and academic achievement. We review the available scholarly work and empirical research on Chinese culturally based socialization practice in these two developmental domains in order to provide the frameworks for this needed research. We then discuss the specific gaps in research pertaining to ChI children and families. Next, we turn our attention to the ongoing research of each of the authors that addresses the specific issues raised in the review. We conclude the chapter with the potential applications of the new research.