Chinese mom and human development scholar Desiree Qin discusses healthful ways to build expectations and manage an acculturation gap.
One in five public school students in the U.S. today is a child from an immigrant family, and this number is projected to grow to one in three by 2040.
The problem is, immigration tends to destabilize family dynamics over time. School-age kids pick up English and absorb cultural norms sooner than their parents, and this acculturation gap often leads to conflicts that harm children's adaptation and development. New studies by Michigan State University scholar Desiree Qin in New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development and the Journal of Adolescence also suggest that Tiger-style parenting may lead to children who achieve more but are also more depressed, anxious, and insecure.
This week on Professional Help, Qin offers five tips from her papers as well her own experiences as a Chinese mom to help immigrant parents ensure that their kids become successful and happy. "What is most beneficial to children, regardless of the culture," she notes, "is clear and high expectations in a warm and loving family environment."
Be present and stay connected. The amount of time parents and children spend together often becomes an issue for many families after immigration, especially in working-class families where both parents may work long hours to make ends meet. Yes, families today are under a lot of financial pressure. But eat dinner together whenever possible and talk to your children. Some parents who don't get to see their children a lot because of work demands leave notes for their children as a way to maintain communication.