Characteristics of the Traditional Asian Family


        Hierarchical in structure, with males and older individuals occupying a higher status


        Gender Differences between Asian male and Asian female

Males=highly valued

Asian families want sons b/c males are important and they carry on the family name (lineage).

Females=valued less than males, less important role in family

The role of the female is to be passive and to adhere to husband's family, be subservient to the male, perform domestic chores, and bear children.

The role of the male is to provide for the family. Primary duty is to be a good son; obligations to be a good husband and father come second to duty as son.

        Patriarchal husband-wife relationships


        Respect for ancestors and elderly (Past-present time orientation)


        Loyalty to authority figures

One-way communication: adults speak to children


        Collectivism---Family & Group Focus---Interdependence

Children learn early in life that the family is central & the primary unit

Behavior of individual members is a reflection on the entire family


        Discipline--shame and guilt used to control and train children

Emphasize loyalty and honor to the family and avoidance of shame and embarrassment to the family

Family problems are hidden from public and handled within the family

Outstanding achievement: source of great pride for child and entire family

Mental illness is shameful and represents family failure


        Less Open Display of Emotions=sign of maturity and self-control

Care and concern is shown by supplying physical needs of family members

Father---Authoritative and Distant, less emotionally demonstrative and involved, provides for the economic and physical needs of family

Mother---more responsive to children but uses less nurturance and more verbal and physical punishments than Whites; meets emotional needs of children and serves as intermediary b/t father and child



Problems of Asian Americans Living in the U.S.


        Conflict b/t 2 different cultures (American vs. Asian)

Children acculturate more rapidly than their parents do

Conflicts may arise b/t parents and children; family reflects traditional ways and children see another way of life (American culture)

Ethnic Identity Problem---Biculturalism


        Conflicts over Dating & Marriage

Parents play an active part in making decisions

Interracial marriages increasing

Viewed as family failure and end to the lineage


        Academic expectations

Another area where parents take an active part in

Children dependent on family

Parents structure children's lives for academic success

More likely to decide whether children go to college, limit TV, and videogames


        Language Barriers

Majority of Asian Americans are foreign born

English ---2nd language

Use of English is encouraged but children still live in homes where native language is the primary language

Children speak and understand 2 different languages



"All Asians are the Same"

Asian Americans consist of a number of national, cultural, and religious heritages, includes at least 40 distinct subgroups, each with unique language, religion, customs, and values

Large increase in Asian population (relaxation in immigration laws)

4 major groups: East Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean), Pacific Islander, SE Asian (Vietnamese, Thai), South Asian (Indian,Pakistani)

Similarities exist among these cultures but those working with Asian Americans need to remember Asian Americans' different origins, ecological adaptations, history, immigration and refugee history, SES, etc.

"Model Minority"

This assumption or stereotype leads to expectations extended to all Asians

"intelligent" "hardworking" "disciplined"

perceived to be educationally,economically, and socially successful

not all members share this success

Not all Asians are superior students who have no problems. Some lack motivation, learning problems, limited English proficiency, financial problems, parents who do not understand US culture, culture differences, language barriers, etc.

Learn about Asian Americans as individuals rather than assuming the model minority stereotype

Stereotypes between and within Asian groups

Media portrayal of Asian Americans


        Racism & Prejudice

Historical Experience in America

Hate crimes, assaults

Still viewed as foreigners



Linda Nguyen 2002