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Chinese migrant families in New Zealand: Family functioning and individual well-being

Migration is a process that affects family functioning and well-being. The purpose of my thesis was to examine the influence of migration on family functioning and individual well-being in Chinese migrant families with adolescents in New Zealand. To achieve this, three studies were conducted. Study 1 investigated the level of family functioning and the influence of migration on it. The outcome measure used was parent-adolescent conflict. Nine families (N=21) were intensively interviewed and asked to discuss conflict issues between the parents and adolescents. The study found that, as reported in the mainstream literature, most conflict occurred over normal, everyday issues. Findings of interest were the use of migration-related explanations to account for the occurrence of conflict, reports that conflict issues were different between the countries of origin and settlement, and reports that conflict intensity was greater here than in the country of origin. Study 2 expanded on Study 1 by including parent-adolescent relationship and parenting as additional outcome measures of family functioning. The well-being of migrant families was also investigated. Interviews conducted with seven families (N=18) showed that migration can be conceptualised as a process which occurs over three phases: before the migration, on first arrival, and in the current situation. Regarding family functioning across these three phases, participants reported that parent-adolescent relationships were generally positive, that conflict occurred over the regulation of the adolescents' activities and the decision to migrate to New Zealand, and that the parenting style changed to being less strict and authoritative in New Zealand. The findings also highlighted the importance of considering familial influences, in addition to individual and environmental influences, when determining migrant adaptation. A conceptual model of migrant adaptation was developed. Study 3 was a quantitative study which examined the role of individual, familial, and environmental influences on family functioning and migrant well-being. A Migration Experience Questionnaire (MEQ) was developed to investigate the role of migration-related variables on these outcome measures. The MEQ was based on the conceptual model of migration adaptation arising from Study 2. Family functioning was measured using the Self-Report Inventory (SFI), and migrant well-being was measured using the General Health Questionnaire-30item version (GHQ-30). Questionnaires were completed by 180 participants (93 = parents; 87 =adolescents). The results showed that factors predictive of poor family functioning were differential rates of acculturation, lack of social support, being dissatisfied with life before the migration for adolescents, and being dissatisfied with life after the migration for parents. Factors predictive of poor well-being were lack of social support, feelings of not belonging here, perceptions of being racially discriminated against, and dissatisfaction with one's English ability. Another finding of interest was that 40% of participants were identified as being 'psychologically at-risk'. In conclusion, the findings of my thesis highlight that migration is a process which influences family functioning and individual well-being. While some families cope with these changes better than others, the consensus amongst participants was that having adequate social support was crucial to good family functioning and well-being.
Type of thesis
Cleland, A. M. M. M. T. (2004). Chinese migrant families in New Zealand: Family functioning and individual well-being (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13212
The University of Waikato
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