Parent-adult child relations of chinese older immigrants in the United States: Is there an optimal type?

Man Guo, Meredith Stensland, Mengting Li, Xinqi Dong

Publication Date: 03/09/2020

Objectives: This study aims to identify (a) different types of parent-child relations among Chinese older immigrants, (b) predictors of each relation type, and (c) the most “optimal” type that is associated with better psychological well-being of the older adults.

Methods: Data were derived from 3,109 Chinese elderly adults in Chicago. Latent Class Analysis was used to identify structures of parent-child relations based on eight indicators of family solidarity. Logistic regressions were used to predict the relation types. Negative binomial and logistic regressions were used to examine the associations between the relation types and depression and quality of life (QoL).

Results: Four types of parent-child relations emerged: unobligated ambivalent (44.77%), tight-knit (40.11%), detached (10.28%), and commanding conflicted (4.84%). Older adults’ age, gender, marital status, health status, and immigration/acculturation experience were related to their relation types. While tight-knit relation was associated with the fewest depressive symptoms, older adults with unobligated ambivalent relations were the least likely to report good QoL.

Discussion: The study illustrates the diverse and complex ways in which Chinese older immigrants and their children are connected. The findings suggest that a departure from the traditional norm of filial piety may present a risk factor for this population’s mental health.