Date of this Version
Published in G. W. Peterson and K. R. Bush (eds.), Handbook of Marriage and the Family (New York: Springer 2013), pp. 705-722; doi: 10.1007/978-1-4614-3987-5_29
The number of Asian American families is on the rise, making it 4.6% of the total US population. Asian American families are also a diverse group, comprising many different ancestries, cultural variations, and countries of origin. However, there remains a paucity of research focusing on Asian American Families. The media’s depiction of them as a Model Minority is doing a disservice to this population group. Because of this stereotype, many issues and challenges that this group encounters may not gain adequate attention. Some of these issues include acculturative stress, intimate partner violence, lack of a social support network, and intergenerational relationships and mental and health of all ages. Like other immigrant groups, this group experiences discrimination and racism. Yet, Asian American families also exhibit resiliency and strengths during their immigration journey. They are family-oriented, hardworking, and never give up their dreams. They have overcome many obstacles during this process and find the way to embrace their new lives in the United States.
Research on Asian American families remains sketchy, although it has been steadily growing (Fang et al., 2008). Many fields (population studies, anthropology, psychology, public health, social work, sociology, and family studies) have all contributed to the new understanding of this population. However, the focus has been on the acculturation process and its related stress, ethnic identity development, child and adolescent development, parenting practice, and elderly living arrangement. Fang et al. have done a nice review of studies on Asian Americans from 1992 to 2006 and propose that future research on Asian American family experiences should be conceptualized and interpreted in its relevant cultural framework rather than in alignment with norms. In our review of literature, we conclude that research is needed that focuses on gendered experiences of adolescent boys and girls (boys in particular), marriage and partner relationships, and the mental health of Asian American elderly. To examine the social, cultural, and political contexts, and their mutual influences, Asian American family research can utilize mixed method designs and the wide variety of data analysis strategies that are available today. For example, research should examine how the cultural and media contexts moderate the association between developmental outcomes and parent-adolescent communication. Research is also needed to understand how the changes in the family system (role expectations, boundaries, patterns of communication, etc.) are associated with the adjustment of Asian American family members. To advance the understanding of Asian American families, research should also examine families as units or systems. Current research neglects this systemic focus in favor of emphasizing the experiences of the individuals within Asian American families.