Date of Award

May 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Child and Family Studies


Jaipaul L. Roopnarine


Acculturation, Enmeshed family relationships, Family cohesion, Korean immigrant families, Korean indigenous psychology, Parent-child closeness

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


From a family systems perspective, family connectedness is one of the essential attributes of healthy family functioning. Families who are overly connected or disconnected are regarded as dysfunctional. However, several studies on Asian and Asian American families have reported divergent findings on family cohesion in comparison to European Americans. Distinct aspects of Asian heritage culture, such as values embedded in close interpersonal relationships and devoted parent-child relationships, may account for the discrepancies. Specifically, Jung culture, Confucian ideologies, and acculturation strategies may explain the distinctive patterns in family relationships and parent-child closeness in Korean heritage families. To better understand cultural variations in family dynamics and interpersonal functioning at the family level, the present study investigated family cohesion including balanced cohesion, enmeshment, and disengagement, indigenous notion of parent-child closeness, acculturation, and their associations with children's socioemotional and academic functioning among Korean immigrant families via moderated mediation models. The sample consisted of 101 South Korean immigrant families with children in 7 and 14 years of age residing in the Greater New York Combined Statistical Area. Utilizing Structural Equation Modeling, the mediating role of Korean parent-child closeness was tested through the bootstrapping method and the moderating role of acculturation was examined via multiple group analyses. Findings revealed 1) possible cultural variations in conceptions of family cohesion and parent-child closeness, 2) the beneficial roles of family enmeshment for children's socioemotional functioning, 3) dimension-specific functions of Korean father-child closeness on child academic functioning, 4) the complete mediating role of Korean mother-child closeness between balanced cohesion and child socioemotional difficulties, and 5) the moderating role of acculturation in the association between family enmeshment and child socioemotional functioning. The findings are discussed in terms of practical and future research implications and the importance of cultural contexts in understanding Korean immigrant families in the United States.


Open Access