Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 180–190 | Cite as

Transmission of Intergenerational Migration Legacies in Korean American Families: Parenting the Third Generation

  • Lana KimEmail author
  • Carmen Knudson-Martin
  • Amy Tuttle
Original Paper


Therapists are expected to practice cultural awareness. However, there is limited guidance on what this means when working with second or third generation families. This grounded theory study used a social constructionist life course perspective to understand how second generation Korean American parents locate themselves in the sociopolitical context and draw on these intergenerational experiences to construct a parenting ideology. Semi-structured interviews with 20 parenting couples of children between 0 and 10 years of age showed parents engage in three major socio-contextual processes: (a) looks back on first generation parents’ experience of survival and marginalization, (b) explores meaning of being second generation Korean American parents, and (c) fosters contextual awareness of third generation children. Parenting intents appeared fueled by felt awareness of their increased societal power compared to their parents. Findings help family practitioners contextualize parenting experiences within the larger social context and suggest a nuanced, process-oriented approach to sociocultural attunement that attends to multiple interconnecting contexts, fluid across time and place.


Cultural awareness Migration Intergenerational transmission Power Marginalization Parenting Second generation Korean-Americans Sociopolitical context Family legacies 



No funding was received to conduct this study.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from participants prior to conducting this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Counseling PsychologyLewis & Clark CollegePortlandUSA
  2. 2.Graduate School of Education & PsychologyPepperdine UniversityIrvineUSA

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