Tiger Parents or Sheep Parents?: Struggles of Parental Involvement in Working-Class Chinese Immigrant Families
by Desirée Baolian Qin & Eun-Jin Han - 2014
Background/Context: Research on Chinese immigrant parents tends to focus on their high levels of educational involvement and its positive impact on their children’s exceptional educational performances. Relatively little research has been conducted to understand the challenges Chinese immigrant parents face in helping their children with school and the resulting influence on parent-child relations and children’s adaptation.
Focus of Study: In this paper, we examined how immigration reshapes parental involvement in these Chinese immigrant families and its subsequent influence on parent-child relations.
Setting: The research was conducted in the metropolitan area of a northeastern city in the United States.
Participants: Our participants were 72 Chinese immigrant children and their parents.
Research Design: Our study utilizes longitudinal interview data with open-ended questions. Open, axial, and selective coding procedures were used in qualitative data analysis.
Findings/Results: Our findings suggest that when parents face multiple challenges in their adaptation after migration, they often experience a feeling of powerlessness especially in dealing with their children’s schooling. This then forces the children to be precociously independent. This dynamic puts strain on parent-child relations and has a negative impact on children’s adaptation.
Conclusions/Recommendations: It is important for schools and other social institutions working with Chinese immigrant families to reach out to parents by providing them with more information and resources to be more involved in their children’s education. Immigrant and local communities can also help by offering parent and youth programs to help improve parental involvement and parent-child relations in Chinese and other immigrant families.
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