Acculturative family distancing (AFD) and depression in Chinese American families.J Consult Clin Psychol. 2010 Oct; 78(5):655-67.JC
Knowledge of acculturative processes and their impact on immigrant families remains quite limited. Acculturative family distancing (AFD) is the distancing that occurs between immigrant parents and their children and is caused by breakdowns in communication and cultural value differences. It is a more proximal and problem-focused formulation of the acculturation gap and is hypothesized to increase depression via family conflict.
Data were collected from 105 Chinese American high school students and their mothers. Rasch modeling was used to refine the AFD measure, and structural equation modeling was used to determine the effects of AFD on youth and maternal depression.
Findings indicate that greater AFD was associated with higher depressive symptoms and risk for clinical depression. Family conflict partially mediated this relation for youths, whereas for mothers, AFD directly increased risk for depression. Greater mother-child heritage enculturation discrepancies were associated with greater mother and child AFD. Mainstream acculturation discrepancies and language gaps between mothers and youths were not significantly associated with any of the primary outcome variables.
Results highlight the need for better understanding of how AFD and other acculturation-gap phenomena affect immigrant mental health. They also underscore the need for prevention and intervention programs that target communication difficulties and intergenerational cultural value differences.