The Long-Term Socialization Goals of Chinese and Korean Immigrant Mothers in the United States

  • Jillian J. Shen
  • Charissa S. L. Cheah
  • Christy Y. Y. LeungEmail author
Original Paper



The socialization goals of immigrant parents in the United States for their children reflect the childrearing priorities of both their culture of origin and the mainstream culture. These goals, which guide parenting, likely have shared and unique characteristics with other immigrant groups from the same geographical region of origin. The current study aimed to explore and compare the socialization goals of Chinese and Korean immigrant mothers in the United States; the role of child gender in mothers’ socialization goals was also investigated.


Ninety-six Chinese (Mage = 37.60) and 97 Korean immigrant mothers (Mage = 35.87) with preschool-age children living in the United States were interviewed regarding their socialization goals. The qualitative interview transcripts were coded by trained research assistants.


The interviews revealed seven socialization goals (Self-maximization, Lovingness, Personal Integrity, Proper Demeanor, Religious Values, Self-control, and No High Expectations) across both groups. Findings demonstrated that Chinese and Korean immigrant mothers were similar on their endorsement of five socialization goals. However, group differences were found for goals of Religious Values and No High Expectations, which further differed across child gender.


These findings highlighted the common socialization priorities of Chinese and Korean immigrant mothers of young children in urban contexts, but also the need to examine sub-ethnic groups separately to understand their shared and unique parenting experiences. These findings have meaningful implications for clinicians and other professionals towards providing more effective services to Asian immigrant families in the U.S.


Socialization goals Chinese immigrants Korean immigrants Ethnic differences Preschool 



This study was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (1R03HD052827-01) and Foundation for Child Development to Charissa S. L. Cheah.

Author Contributions

J.J.S.: Participated in data collection, conducted data analysis, and wrote the paper. C.S.L.C.: designed and executed the study, mentored and collaborated in the process of data coding, data analysis, and writing of the study. C.Y.Y.L.: participated in data collection, lead the process of data coding, and collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors of this manuscript declare that they have no affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial interest (such as membership, employment, consultancies, stock ownership, or other equity interest; and expert testimony or patent-licensing arrangements), or non-financial interest (such as personal or professional relationships, affiliations, knowledge or beliefs) in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional review board at University of Maryland Baltimore County (IRB number Y16CC20229) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


  1. Alvarez, A. N. (2002). Racial identity and Asian Americans: supports and challenges. In M. McEwen, C. M. Kodama, A. N. Alvarez, S. Lee, & C. T. H. Liang (Eds), Working with Asian American college students (pp. 33–44). New York, NY: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  2. Bornstein, M. H. (1991). Approaches to parenting in culture. In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.), Cultural approaches to parenting, (pp. 3–19). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  3. Bornstein, M. H. (2015). Children’s parents. In M. H. Bornstein & T. Leventhal (Eds), Handbook of child psychology and developmental science: ecological settings and processes (pp. 1–78). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  4. Bornstein, M. H., & Cheah, C. S. L. (2006). The place of “culture and parenting” in the ecological contextual perspective on developmental science. In K. H. Rubin & O. Boon Chung (Eds), Parenting beliefs, behaviors, and parent-child relations: a cross-cultural perspective, (pp. 3–33). London, UK: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bornstein, M. H., & Cote, L. R. (2003). Cultural and parenting cognitions in acculturating cultures: 2. Patterns of prediction and structural coherence. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 34, 350–373. Scholar
  6. Bornstein, M. H., & Cote, L. R. (2004). Mothers’ parenting cognitions in cultures of origin, acculturating cultures, and cultures of destination. Child Development, 75, 221–235. Scholar
  7. Bornstein, M. H., & Cote, L. R. (2006). Parenting cognitions and practices in the acculturative process. In M. H. Bornstein & L. R. Cote (Eds), Acculturation and parent-child relationships: measurement and development (pp. 173–196). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  8. Chae, M. H., & Foley, P. F. (2010). Relationship of ethnic identity, acculturation, and psychological well‐being among Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Americans. Journal of Counseling & Development, 88, 466–476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chao, R. K. (1995). Chinese and European American cultural models of the self reflected in mothers’ childrearing beliefs. Ethos, 23, 328–354. Scholar
  10. Cheah, C. S. L., Leung, C. Y., Tahseen, M., & Schultz, D. (2009). Authoritative parenting among immigrant Chinese mothers of preschoolers. Journal of Family Psychology, 23, 311–320. Scholar
  11. Cheah, C. S. L., Leung, C. Y., & Zhou, N. (2013). Understanding “tiger parenting” through the perceptions of Chinese immigrant mothers: can Chinese and US parenting coexist? Asian American Journal of Psychology, 4, 30–40. Scholar
  12. Chen, X., & Lee, B. (1996). The cultural and social acculturation scale (child and adult version). London, ON, Canada: Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario.Google Scholar
  13. Choi, Y., & Kim, Y. S. (2010). Acculturation and the family: core vs. peripheral changes among Korean Americans. Chaeoe Hanin Yon Gu, 21, 135–190.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  14. Cho, H. (1998). Male dominance and mother power: the two sides of Confucian patriarchy in Korea. In W. H. Slote & G. A. De Vos (Eds), Confucianism and the Family, (pp. 187–207). Albany, NY: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  15. Choi, Y., Kim, Y. S., Pekelnicky, D. D., & Kim, H. J. (2013). Preservation and modification of culture in family socialization: development of parenting measures for Korean immigrant families. Asian American Journal of Psychology, 4, 143–154. Scholar
  16. Citlak, B., Leyendecker, B., Schölmerich, A., Driessen, R., & Harwood, R. L. (2008). Socialization goals among first-and second-generation migrant Turkish and German mothers. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 32, 56–65. Scholar
  17. Cote, L. R., Kwak, K., Putnick, D. L., Chung, H. J., & Bornstein, M. H. (2015). The acculturation of parenting cognitions: a comparison of South Korean, Korean immigrant, and European American mothers. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 46, 1115–1130. Scholar
  18. Darling, N., & Steinberg, L. (1993). Parenting style as context: an integrative model. Psychological Bulletin, 113, 487–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Durgel, E. S., Leyendecker, B., Yagmurlu, B., & Harwood, R. (2009). Sociocultural influences on German and Turkish immigrant mothers’ long-term socialization goals. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 40, 834–853.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Han, N. (1999). Understanding of contemporary Korean family. Seoul: Ilji-sa.Google Scholar
  21. Hao, L., & Bonstead-Bruns, M. (1998). Parent-child differences in educational expectations and the academic achievement of immigrant and native students. Sociology of Education, 71, 175–198. Scholar
  22. Harwood, R. L. (1992). The influence of culturally derived values on Anglo and Puerto Rican mothers’ perceptions of attachment behavior. Child Development, 63, 822–839. Scholar
  23. Harwood, R. L., Schoelmerich, A., Ventura‐Cook, E., Schulze, P. A., & Wilson, S. P. (1996). Culture and class influences on Anglo and Puerto Rican mothers’ beliefs regarding long‐term socialization goals and child behavior. Child Development, 67, 2446–2461. Scholar
  24. Ho, D. Y. F. (1994). Filial piety, authoritarian moralism, and cognitive conservatism in Chinese societies. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 120, 349–365.
  25. Hurh, W. M. (1998). The Korean Americans. London: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  26. IBM Corp. (2013). IBM SPSS statistics for Windows, version 22.0. Armonk, NY: IBM Corp.Google Scholar
  27. Kağitçibaşi, Ç. (2007). Family, self, and human development across cultures: theories and applications (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.Google Scholar
  28. Keller, H., Borke, J., Yovsi, R., Lohaus, A., & Jensen, H. (2005). Cultural orientations and historical changes as predictors of parenting behavior. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 29, 229–237. Scholar
  29. Kim, S. (2003). The influence of Christianity on Korean parenting. Michigan Family Review, 8, 29–44. Scholar
  30. Kim, K. W. (2006). “Hyo” and parenting in Korea. In K. H. Rubin and O. B. Chung (Eds), Parenting beliefs, parenting, and child development in cross-cultural perspective(pp. 207–222). New York: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  31. Lee, Y. S., Moon, A., & Gomez, C. (2014). Elder mistreatment, culture, and help-seeking: a cross-cultural comparison of older Chinese and Korean immigrants. Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect, 26, 244–269. Scholar
  32. Leyendecker, B., Lamb, M. E., Harwood, R. L., & Schölmerich, A. (2002). Mothers’ socialization goals and evaluations of desirable and undesirable everyday situations in two diverse cultural groups. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 26, 248–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Li, J. (2001). Expectations of Chinese immigrant parents for their children’s education: the interplay of Chinese tradition and the Canadian context. Canadian Journal of Education/Revue canadienne de l’éducation, 26, 477–494. Scholar
  34. Liu, F. (2006). Boys as only‐children and girls as only‐children—parental gendered expectations of the only‐child in the nuclear Chinese family in present‐day China. Gender and Education, 18, 491–505. Scholar
  35. Lytton, H., & Romney, D. M. (1991). Parents’ differential socialization of boys and girls: a meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 109, 267–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Migration Policy Institute (2016). Asian immigrants in the United States. Migration Policy Institute.
  37. Migration Policy Institute (2019). Frequently requested statistics on immigrants and immigration in the United States. Migration Policy Institute.
  38. Min, P. G. (1998). Changes and conflicts, Korean immigrant families in New York. American Anthropologist, 100, 782–784.Google Scholar
  39. Min, P. G. (2001). Changes in Korean immigrants’ gender role and social status, and their marital conflicts. Sociological Forum, 16, 301–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Moscardino, U., Bertelli, C., & Altoè, G. (2011). Culture, migration, and parenting: a comparative study of mother-infant interaction and childrearing patterns in Romanian, Romanian immigrant, and Italian families. International Journal of Developmental Science, 5, 11–25. Scholar
  41. Olson, S. L., Kashiwagi, K., & Crystal, D. (2001). Concepts of adaptive and maladaptive child behavior: a comparison of US and Japanese mothers of preschool-age children. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 32, 43–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Park, S. Y., & Cheah, C. S. (2005). Korean mothers’ proactive socialization beliefs regarding preschoolers’ social skills. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 29(1), 24–34. Scholar
  43. Park, M., & Chesla, C. (2007). Revisiting Confucianism as a conceptual framework for Asian family study. Journal of Family Nursing, 13, 293–311. Scholar
  44. Park, J. H., & Cho., L.-J. (1995). Confucianism and the Korean Family. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 26, 117–134. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Parke, R. D., & Buriel, R. (1998). Socialization in the family: ethnic and ecological perspectives. In W. Damon (series Ed.) & N. Eisenberg (vol. Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: vol. 3. Social, emotional, and personality development (5th ed., pp. 463–552). New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  46. Pek, J. C., & Leong, F. T. (2003). Sex–related self–concepts, cognitive styles and cultural values of traditionality–modernity as predictors of general and domain–specific sexism. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 6, 31–49. Scholar
  47. Pew Research Center (2012a). Asian Americans: a mosaic of faiths. Pew Research Center.
  48. Pew Research Center (2012b). The rise of Asian Americans. Pew Research Center.
  49. Phalet, K., & Schönpflug, U. (2001). Intergenerational transmission in Turkish immigrant families: Parental collectivism, achievement values and gender differences. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 32(4), 489–504.Google Scholar
  50. Shariff, A. (2009). Ethnic identity and parenting stress in South Asian families: implications for culturally sensitive counselling. Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy/Revue Canadienne de Counseling et de Psychothérapie, 43, 35–46.Google Scholar
  51. Tamis‐LeMonda, C. S., Way, N., Hughes, D., Yoshikawa, H., Kalman, R. K., & Niwa, E. Y. (2007). Parents’ goals for children: the dynamic coexistence of individualism and collectivism in cultures and individuals. Social Development, 17, 183–209. Scholar
  52. Tsai, J., Chentsova-Dutton, Y., & Wong, Y. (2002). Why and how researchers should study ethnic identity, acculturation, and cultural orientation. In G. N. Hall & S. Okazaki (Eds), Asian American psychology: the science of lives in context (pp. 41–65). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  53. Yoshikawa, H., Mistry, R., & Wang, Y. (2016). Advancing methods in research on Asian American children and youth. Child Development, 87, 1033–1050. Scholar
  54. Zhou, M., & Kim, S. (2006). Community forces, social capital, and educational achievement: the case of supplementary education in the Chinese and Korean immigrant communities. Harvard Educational Review, 76, 1–29. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MarylandBaltimore CountyUSA
  2. 2.TMW Center for Early Learning + Public HealthUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA

Personalised recommendations