A conditional indirect effect of language brokering on adjustment among Chinese and Korean American adolescents : the roles of perceived maternal sacrifice, respect for the mother, and mother-child open communication



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Asian American adolescents, such as Chinese and Korean American adolescents, often language broker for their immigrant parents. This study examines how language brokering influences parent-child relationships and adolescents' psychological adjustment in Asian-American families. Using a two-wave sample of Chinese (n = 237; average age = 14.65, SD = .68) and Korean (n = 262; average age = 14.72, SD = .69) American adolescents, this study examined a culturally relevant conditional mechanism through which language brokering may contribute to lower levels of internalizing/externalizing problems. Results suggested that language brokering for the mother was associated with perceived maternal sacrifice, which was in turn associated with respect for the mother, which was eventually associated with lower levels of externalizing problems (but not internalizing problems) in the adolescents. Moreover, the indirect effect was conditional on the level of mother-child open communication. With a lower level of open communication, the indirect effect of language brokering on externalizing problems became stronger. Results indicate that interventions designed to reduce Asian American adolescent language brokers' externalizing problems can target their perception of parental sacrifice and their respect for parents, and that this approach may be especially effective for adolescents experiencing a low level of parent-child open communication. At the same time, for these families with low levels of parent-child open communication, encouraging more open communication may be an additional way to intervene.