Redeeming immigrant parents: How Korean American emerging adults reinterpret their childhood

Hyeyoung Kang, Sumie Okazaki, Nancy Abelmann, Chu Kim-Prieto, Shanshan Lan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Korean American youth experience immigration-related parent-child challenges including language barriers, parent-child conflicts, and generational cultural divides. Using grounded theory methods, this article examines the ways in which 18 Korean American college-enrolled emerging adults retrospectively made sense out of their experiences of immigrant family hardships. Of those who narrated childhood hardship, over half narrated positive change in which they reinterpreted their relationship to their parents and redeemed their immigrant parents either through their own maturation or through spirituality. This narrative strategy is consistent with cognitive change in emerging adults' view of their parents that have been documented in other studies (Arnett, 2004). Only a minority of participants did not narrate positive changes and remained distressed over their relationship to their parents. Findings suggest the possibility that narration of positive change is a culturally salient process by which many Korean American emerging adults come to terms with early family challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-464
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Adolescent Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2010


  • Emerging adulthood
  • Ethnic issues
  • Family relationships
  • Identity issues
  • Immigration issues
  • Positive youth development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Redeeming immigrant parents: How Korean American emerging adults reinterpret their childhood'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this