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Child Development, January/February 2002, Volume 73, Number 1, Pages 302314

The Impact of Family Obligation on the Daily Activities and Psychological Well-Being of Chinese American Adolescents
Andrew J. Fuligni, Tiffany Yip, and Vivian Tseng

A daily diary method was employed to examine the extent to which Chinese adolescents in the United States assist and spend time with their families, and the implications of such behaviors for their involvement in other activities and psychological well-being. Adolescents (N 140) completed checklists in which they reported their activities and psychological well-being every day for a period of 2 weeks. Adolescents showed a greater propensity to balance family obligations with their academic demands than with their social life with peers on a daily basis. Girls experienced slightly more daily conict between activities than boys. Neither the extent of involvement in family obligations nor the balancing of family obligations with other activities were associated with psychological distress among adolescents. These ndings demonstrate the complex manner in which adolescents from immigrant families attempt to combine their cultural traditions with selected aspects of American society on a daily basis. In contrast to the expectations of some observers, the youths in this study appeared to accomplish such an integration with little cost to their psychological well-being.

INTRODUCTION As a result of the dramatic increase in immigration over the past 30 years, a growing proportion of families in American society has cultural traditions that emphasize childrens duty to support, assist, and spend time with the family. Whereas such familial duties may be performed fairly easily in the immigrants native cultures, it can be more difcult for children to fulll their obligations in an American society that places less importance on lial obligation and more emphasis on the independence and autonomy of individuals. The contrast between cultural traditions and societal norms may be especially salient for adolescents from immigrant families, who nd themselves in a culture that considers the teenage years to be a critical period for the acquisition of individual autonomy and identity. In the current study, we employed a daily diary method to examine the extent to which Chinese adolescents in the United States assist and spend time with their families, and the implications of such behaviors for their involvement in other activities and psychological well-being. Involvement in Family Obligations Chinese culture traditionally has been considered to be collectivistic in nature, such that the needs and interests of the larger group take precedence over the desires of individual members (Triandis, 1995). This interdependent orientation appears most strongly in the family, in which children are often expected to respect the wishes of their elders and participate in the maintenance of the household. Accordingly, Chinese

families tend to emphasize family respect, support, and assistance when socializing their children (Ho, 1981). Families expect children and adolescents to engage in activities ranging from caring for siblings and other family members, to cleaning the home, purchasing food, and cooking meals. The emphasis of family solidarity also implies that children should spend time with the family during meals, holidays, and special occasions. These activities serve to socialize children and adolescents into a tradition of moral obligation to ones parents and family that continues into adulthood and throughout individuals lives (Ho, 1981). The value of family support and assistance remains strong even among Chinese families in non-Chinese societies. Numerous observers have noted how many Chinese families in the United States retain an emphasis on lial duty, with parents often asking children to contribute to the maintenance of the household (Shon & Ja, 1982; Uba, 1994). The importance of family obligation appears to be recognized and accepted by Chinese children and adolescents. In a previous study, we found that Chinese American adolescents believed in the importance of supporting and assisting the family more than their peers from European backgrounds (Fuligni, Tseng, & Lam, 1999). Chinese youths indicated that they should spend more time caring for siblings, participating in household chores, and spending time with the family. The vast majority of Chinese youths in the United States have immigrant parents, suggesting that these values could
2002 by the Society for Research in Child Development, Inc. All rights reserved. 0009-3920/2002/7301-0020

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be a result of having parents raised in Chinese societies, but even the Chinese adolescents of American-born parents retained a strong sense of obligation to the family. Yet it is one thing to believe in ones duty to the family, and another to actually act on that belief. The likelihood of individuals behaving in accordance with their beliefs and attitudes is far from certain, and the probability can depend on many factors including the dominant norms of the larger society (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993). In contrast to Chinese societies, American society places less emphasis on familial duty and more importance on independent behavior and initiative (Markus & Kitayama, 1991). The American emphasis on individual autonomy comes to the fore during the adolescent years, when children increasingly spend less time with the family (Larson & Richards, 1991). Given the nature of adolescence in American society, the extent to which Chinese adolescents act in accordance with the cultural tradition of family obligation remains unclear. To our knowledge, there have been no studies that have attempted to directly estimate the amount of time these youths spend assisting and being with their families. The frequency and time that Chinese adolescents spend engaging in family obligations likely depends on their social roles and the youths personal identication with their cultural background. Surprisingly, in our previous study, no variations were observed in the attitudes of Chinese youths toward their family obligations with regard to factors such as gender or birth order (Fuligni et al., 1999). Despite the similarity in attitudes, there still may be differences in adolescents actual behavior. Girls may spend more time actually assisting and being with their families than boys, as is prescribed in Chinese culture and has been found in numerous studies of European American youths (Goodnow, 1988; McHale, Crouter, & Tucker, 1999; Wolf, 1970). Similarly, given the typical familial roles accorded to eldest children, these adolescents may spend more time assisting and supporting the family than younger siblings. The tradition of the eldest children having greater family obligations is especially evident within Chinese culture (Ho, 1981), and this practice may continue among immigrant Chinese families who nd themselves in a new and different society. Adolescents without siblings may also evidence elevated levels of family support and assistance, by virtue of their being the only children available to help their parents. The extent to which Chinese adolescents identify with their families cultural traditions should also play a role in the youths involvement in family obligations. Immigrants vary in their orientations toward

the norms of their native and host cultures. Some immigrants emphasize their native traditions more than others, and differences also exist in the extent to which immigrants embrace the practices of their host societies (Berry & Sam, 1997). Chinese adolescents who more strongly endorse the importance of family assistance and support should be more likely to engage in such practices on a daily basis. Similarly, one might expect Chinese adolescents who are immigrants themselves to demonstrate higher levels of daily family assistance, because they have spent less time in American society. We did not observe such a generational difference in the youths attitudes toward family obligations in our previous study (Fuligni et al., 1999), but there may still be variations in actual behavior according to adolescents place of birth. Family Obligation, Socializing with Peers, and Studying Given the relatively lower emphasis on familial duty in American society, it is important to determine how assisting and spending time with the family may affect the involvement of Chinese youths in other activities typical of American teenagers. For example, American adolescents spend a larger proportion of their time socializing with their peers than do adolescents in Chinese societies (Larson & Verma, 1999). Not only do American youths spend more time with friends, but the activities they engage in together tend to be independent and unsupervised by parents and other adults (Csikszentmihalyi & Larson, 1984). When together, American adolescents participate in autonomous activities such as going to movies and parties, whereas youths in Chinese societies are more likely to socialize together at home (Fuligni & Stevenson, 1995). The frequency and independent nature of peer socializing in American society means that this activity likely will compete with the time Chinese youths spend engaging in their family obligations. The potential link between academic activitiesa second dominant aspect of adolescent lifeand Chinese adolescents fulllment of their family obligations is more complex. On the one hand, ethnographies of Latin American immigrant families have highlighted how familial expectations to help the family with childcare and household maintenance can interfere with adolescents ability to study and do their homework (Surez-Orozco & Surez-Orozco, 1995). Such interference may be especially prevalent for girls whose families emphasize traditional gender roles and behaviors, or for eldest children who are often called on to help parents in emergencies (Gibson & Bhachu, 1991). Yet studying hard and doing

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well in school have long been considered family obligations of Chinese children, and a high level of achievement is considered to be a success for the whole family as well as the individual student (Chao, 2000). Chinese adolescents are well aware of their duty to do well in school, and youths who place more importance on their family obligations tend to possess a higher level of academic motivation than their peers (Fuligni & Tseng, 1999). The extent to which academic activities and family obligations compete with one another, therefore, is difcult to predict and could vary across youths according to their social roles. Family Obligation and Psychological Well-Being Several observers have suggested that the differences between the cultural background of immigrant families and the norms of American society inevitably create anxiety among immigrants, a phenomenon often referred to as acculturative stress (Berry & Sam, 1997). Acculturative stress typically has been studied among adult immigrants, but recent observers have drawn attention to the potential for similar difculties among children and adolescents (Zhou, 1997). In particular, the mismatch between the family obligations of immigrant adolescents and the demands of American society is often highlighted. Adolescents from immigrant families are acutely aware of the lack of t between their families cultural traditions and the norms of American society. As a Vietnamese adolescent in New Orleans reported to Zhou and Bankston (1998, p. 166), To be an American, you may be able to do whatever you want. But to be a Vietnamese, you must think of your family rst. Yet the awareness of such a difference does not necessarily mean that the conict in cultural expectations leads to psychological distress among the adolescents from immigrant families, including those with Chinese backgrounds. Acculturative stress among adolescents from immigrant families is currently more of a shared assumption than an empirically proven phenomenon. Recent large-scale surveys have indicated that adolescents from immigrant families actually exhibit equal or even better psychological and behavioral adjustment than their peers from Americanborn families (e.g., Harris, 2000). We have suggested elsewhere that such a remarkable level of adjustment, given the challenges inherent to adapting to a new society, can be attributable to the youths strong links to their family and cultural traditions, including the sense of identity and purpose provided by ones familial obligations (Fuligni, 1998). The question of whether family obligations are either positively or negatively associated with the

psychological well-being of Chinese youths, therefore, remains to be answered. On the one hand, involvement in supporting and assisting the family could compromise adolescents psychological well-being by overwhelming the youths with excessive responsibility and interfering with their ability to engage in other activities such as studying for school and socializing with peers (Chase, 1999). On the other hand, spending time helping and being with the family could be advantageous in that such activities provide adolescents with a meaningful social role and a means by which adolescents can maintain a connection to the family (Fuligni, 1998). A Daily Diary Approach To capture the potentially complex manner in which Chinese adolescents balance their family obligations with the demands of being an adolescent in American society, a daily diary technique was employed in which youths reported their activities, behaviors, and feelings every day for a period of 2 weeks. Such an intensive method of obtaining several repeated measurements of adolescents lives offers benets not available with more typical cross-sectional designs. Asking youths to report on activities, behaviors, and feelings on a daily basis provides more reliable and valid estimates than the traditional retrospective accounts that are obtained with single surveys. An even greater benet of the daily diary method, however, is that it allows one to address the question of how adolescents balance various activities on a daily basis. For example, do Chinese youths spend less time assisting and being with their family on days on which they spend more time socializing with friends? The diary also provides a way to see whether various behaviors have implications for the adolescents wellbeing. Do youths feel greater psychological distress on days in which they spend more time helping their family? Because a daily level of analysis provides a much closer view of how individuals balance the various demands in their lives, the diary method has been increasingly used to study more general stress and coping among families and those experiencing major life events (e.g., Almeida & Kessler, 1998; Repetti & Wood, 1997; Thompson & Bolger, 1999). The daily diary method also allows for the examination of individual and group differences in the manner by which Chinese adolescents balance the various demands in their daily lives. Specically, estimates of the daily-level associations between activities and feelings across the 2-week period may be obtained for each individual adolescent. These daily-level estimates, in turn, can be predicted by individual and group dif-

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ferences among the adolescents. For example, do Chinese girls and boys balance their family obligations and their peer lives in different ways? Does spending more time assisting the family create greater feelings of distress for oldest children than for youngest children? These individual variations in the daily negotiations of Chinese adolescents provide a more complete picture of their adjustment process as compared with the estimates available in traditional, singlemeasurement designs. The ability of the diary approach to provide such insights into the manner in which Chinese adolescents balance their family obligations with other aspects of their lives made it a logical method for the issues examined in this study. Specically, three questions were addressed: (1) What is the extent of Chinese adolescents involvement in family obligations? (2) How do adolescents balance family obligations with socializing with peers and studying on a daily basis? and (3) How are both the extent of involvement in family obligations and the daily balancing of those obligations with peers and studying associated with youths psychological well-being? For all three questions, the extent to which the answers depended on the youths gender, birth order, generation, and attitude toward their family obligations was examined.

53 were the youngest child in the family. All adolescents were uent in English and reported a slightly better than moderate degree of prociency in Chinese, rating their speaking ability at an average of 3.47 (SD 1.13) on a 5-point scale (1 not very well, 5 very well). Both English and Chinese were spoken in 98% of the homes, but virtually all of the youths indicated that their parents usually used solely Chinese or a mix of Chinese and English when conversing with them (mothers, 94%; fathers, 93%). Procedure Participating youths rst completed an initial questionnaire that assessed aspects of the adolescents family background, as well as their attitude toward their family obligations. On nishing the initial questionnaire, the youths were given a set of 14 daily diary checklists to complete before bedtime for the subsequent 2-week period. Using the checklists, the adolescents spent approximately 5 to 10 min each night reporting the occurrence of a specied set of activities and feelings for the day. Participants were instructed to complete a diary sheet every night rather than a few at a time to maintain the integrity of the data, and they were called one or two times during the 2-week period to remind them to complete the diary checklists and to answer any of their questions. At the end of the period, the adolescents returned the completed diary checklists and received $25 for their participation in the study. The diary sheets were checked for obvious signs that they were completed a few at a time (e.g., identical reports across several days), and a small number of suspect diary sheets were eliminated from the study. Measures Attitude toward family obligation. As part of the initial questionnaire, adolescents completed a 12-item scale that assessed their attitude toward assisting and spending time with the family. Using a 5-point scale (1 almost never, 5 almost always), participants reported how often they should do things such as translate for their parents, run errands for the family, take care of brothers and sisters, take care of grandparents, spend time with the family, and eat meals with the family. The scale possessed strong internal consistency, .86, and the average level and variation of the youths attitude in this study (M 3.12; SD .69) were similar to those of a different sample of Chinese youths from the San Francisco area that took part in another study (M 3.07; SD .72; Fuligni et al., 1999).

METHOD Sample Chinese adolescents from immigrant families were recruited from a mix of both selective and nonselective public high schools in New York City. The total sample consisted of 140 youths, averaging 16.4 years of age, and was fairly evenly divided by gender (76 girls, 64 boys). All of the adolescents had immigrant parents and 57 were also immigrants themselves (i.e., rst generation), coming to the United States at an average of 7.1 years of age. The remaining 83 youths were born in the United States (i.e., second generation). Whereas the youths tended to live in predominantly Chinese neighborhoods, their high schools included adolescents from a variety of different ethnic backgrounds. Most of the youths had mothers and fathers who worked (mothers, 73.7%; fathers, 86.7%), and the employed mothers and fathers worked in semiskilled to semiprofessional occupations. Adolescents predominantly came from two-parent homes in which the biological parents were still married (87.1%). Less than one fth of the adolescents reported being the only child in the family (n 26). An additional 40 youths were the eldest sibling, 21 were the middle child, and

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Daily family obligations. Each evening, adolescents indicated on the diary sheets whether they had engaged in any of the following 11 activities: helped clean the house or apartment, took care of siblings, ran an errand for the family, helped siblings with homework, helped parents with ofcial business or documents (e.g., translating letters or completing government forms), took care of grandparents, cooked a meal for the family, ate a meal with the family, spent leisure time with the family, helped the parents at their jobs, and other. Youths then estimated the total amount of time they had spent in all of the activities combined. The list of activities was derived from focus group studies conducted with other Chinese adolescents, and was intentionally designed to correspond to the behaviors included in the measure of the youths attitudes toward their family obligations. Eating a meal with the family was the most common activity, occurring on three quarters of the days (74% of days). Spending leisure time with the family (33%) and helping to clean the apartment or house (26%) were the next most frequent activities, followed by running errands (16%), caring for and assisting siblings with homework (15% and 14%), cooking meals (12%), and helping parents with ofcial business (10%). Adolescents rarely helped their parents at work (4%) or took care of their grandparents (3%). Overall, adolescents engaged in approximately two family obligation activities per day (M 2.17, SD 1.23) for an average of 1.28 (SD 1.07) hours each day spent assisting and being with the family. Daily peer socializing and studying. Using the diary sheets, youths reported whether they had socialized with their friends and studied outside of school each day. Adolescents also estimated the total amount of time they had spent in each activity that day. Adolescents reported socializing with peers on 50% (SD .25) of the days and averaged 1.58 hours (SD 1.26) per day with peers. Youths studied on 70% (SD .21) of the days for an average of 1.74 hours (SD 1.10) per day. Daily psychological distress. Adolescents feelings of psychological distress were assessed on a daily basis using items from two subscales of the Prole of Mood States (Lorr & McNair, 1971). Youths used a 5-point scale (1 not at all, 5 extremely) to report the extent to which they felt anxiety (items: nervous, uneasy, on edge, unable to concentrate) and depressive feelings (items: sad, hopeless, discouraged). Averages were taken of the component items to create overall indices of anxiety and depression. These measures of daily well-being have been used successfully in previous diary studies of stress and coping among late adolescents and young adults (e.g., Bolger & Zucker-

man, 1995). Given the high correlation between these two measures, r .80, they were averaged to create a single index of psychological distress (M 1.84, SD .63). RESULTS Method Effects Initial analyses were conducted to determine whether the intensive repeated measurements of the diary method inuenced adolescents daily reports of their activities and psychological well-being. There was no evidence that adolescents substantially increased or decreased their reports of their activities and feelings across the 14 days of the study. None of the correlations between day of the study and the daily reports of activities and well-being reached above r .08, and most approximated r 0. Balancing Family Obligations with Peers and Studying Statistical model. Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM; Bryk & Raudenbusch, 1992) was employed to examine the manner in which adolescents balanced their family obligations with socializing with peers and studying on a daily basis. Two identical HLM models were estimated in which socializing with peers and studying were used to predict family obligations at the daily level. One model predicted the amount of time spent on family obligations by the times spent on the other activities. The second model predicted the number of family obligations by whether the other activities occurred on that day. The extent to which these daily-level associations varied according to adolescents attitude, gender, birth order, and generation was estimated within the same model. These HLM models, therefore, included both a daily-level and an individual-level component. The daily-level component was as follows: Family Obligationij b0j b1j (Peersi) b2j (Studyingi) b3j (Weekday/Weekendi) eij (1)

where the time or number of family obligations on a particular day (i) for an individual adolescent ( j) was modeled as a function of the average time or number of family obligations for the individual across days (b0j); socializing with peers (b1j), and studying (b2j) on that particular day; and whether that particular day fell on a weekday or weekend. eij represents the error term in the equation that contributes to the variance unexplained by the other predictors. For the model involving time, family obligation, peers, and study-

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ing were coded in terms of hours (0, 1, 2, . . .). For the model involving the number of activities, family obligations were coded in terms of the total number of obligation activities performed (0, 1, 2, . . .), and peers and studying were coded 0 no occurrence, 1 occurrence. Weekday/weekend was coded as 1 weekday, 1 weekend for both models. In the individual-level component of the HLM model, the daily-level estimates (i.e., b0j, b1j, b2j, b3j) were modeled as a function of individual-level factors: b0j b1j b2j b3j b00 b01 (Attitudej) b02 (Genderj) b03 (Birth Orderj) b04 (Generationj) b10 b11 (Attitudej) b12 (Genderj) b13 (Birth Orderj) b14 (Generationj) b20 b21 (Attitudej) b22 (Genderj) b23 (Birth Orderj) b24 (Generationj) b30 b31 (Attitudej) b32 (Genderj) b33 (Birth Orderj) b34 (Generationj) u0j (2) u1j (3) u2j (4) u3j) (5)

Table 1 Estimates of Hierarchical Linear Modeling Model Predicting Family Obligation by Studying and Socializing with Peers Obligation Time Daily Level Individual Level Intercept (average daily obligation) Attitude Gender Birth order Generation Socializing with peers Attitude Gender Birth order Generation Studying Attitude Gender Birth order Generation Weekday/weekend Attitude Gender Birth order Generation b (SE) 1.58 (.12)*** .17 (.17) .46 (.12)*** .11 (.12) .18 (.12) .08 (.01)*** .02 (.02) .03 (.01)* .02 (.02) .02 (.02) .04 (.02)* .03 (.03) .03 (.02) .02 (.02) .01 (.02) .38 (.05)*** .03 (.07) .14 (.05)** .01 (.05) .01 (.05) Number of Obligations b (SE) 2.05 (.11)*** .58 (.16)*** .24 (.11)* .21 (.12) .01 (.12) .20 (.07)** .00 (.10) .02 (.07) .08 (.07) .05 (.07) .43 (.07)*** .30 (.10)** .13 (.07) .10 (.08) .10 (.07) .25 (.04)*** .05 (.06) .06 (.04) .07 (.04) .02 (.04)

Equation 2 indicates that the average family obligations of a particular individual (b0j) was modeled as a function of the average family obligations across the sample (b00) and an individuals attitude, gender, birth order, and generation. u0j represents the error term in the equation that contributes to the variance unexplained by the other predictors. Equations 3 through 5 indicate that the daily-level associations between family obligations and peers (b1j), studying (b2j), and weekday/weekend (b3j) were modeled as a function of the average daily associations across the sample (b10, b20, b30), and an individuals attitude, gender, birth order, and generation. u1j, u2j, and u3j represent the error terms in the equations that contribute the variance unexplained by the other predictors. Attitude was centered at the sample mean, and gender, birth order, and generation were effects coded (male 1 , female 1; middle/youngest child 1, oldest/only child 1; rst generation 1, second generation 1). Results. Results from the HLM model are presented in Table 1. Whereas there was no difference in the amount of time youths spent on family obligations according to their attitude toward their family obligations, adolescents with a stronger attitude performed a greater number of obligations per day than those with a weaker attitude. The signicant effects of gender on the average daily obligation indicated that girls spent more time engaging in family obligations and performed a greater number of obligation activities than did boys. There were no differences in either the average amount of obligation time or the total number of obligations according to youths birth order and generation.

Note: The estimates for the daily-level predictors represent the effects of those predictors across the entire sample, and the estimates for the individual-level predictors represent the effects of those predictors on the associated daily-level predictors. Ns 140 individuals, 14 days per individual. * p .05; ** p .01; *** p .001; p .10.

Socializing with peers was negatively associated with both the number of family obligations and the time spent on family obligations on a daily basis. Ad-

Figure 1 Daily association between peer time and obligation time, according to gender. Plotted values are the predicted levels of obligation time from the Hierarchical Linear Modeling model presented in Table 1.

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Figure 2 Daily association between study time and obligation time, according to gender. Plotted values are the predicted levels of obligation time from the Hierarchical Linear Modeling model presented in Table 1.

olescents spent less time on family obligations on days on which they spent more time with peers, and performed fewer family obligations on days on which they socialized with peers. The signicant effect of gender on the daily-level conict between peer time and family obligation time indicated that this time conict was greater for girls than for boys, although the negative association was still signicant for both genders (see Figure 1), girls: b .12, SE .02, t 5.95, p .001; boys: b .05, SE .02, t 2.37, p .05. In contrast to socializing with peers, studying seemed to create less daily conict with adolescents family obligations. In terms of time, the negative association between study time and obligation time was one half the size of the parallel association between peer time and obligation time. The marginal effect of gender on the association between study time and obligation time suggests that the daily conict was evident only for girls. As shown in Figure 2, girls spent less time on family obligations on days on which they spent more time studying, b .08, SE .03, t 2.97, p .01. In contrast, there was no daily-level association between the times spent on the two activities among boys, b .01, SE .03, t .31, ns. Adolescents actually engaged in a greater number of family obligations on days on which they studied. The signicant effect of youths attitude indicated that this association was stronger for those who had a stronger attitude toward their family obligations. As shown in Figure 3, youths who were 1 SD above the mean evidenced the strongest link between the two activities, b .64, SE .10, t 6.31, p .001. The daily-level association was weaker, but still signi-

Figure 3 Daily association between occurrence of studying and number of obligations, according to adolescents attitude toward their obligations. Plotted values are the predicted numbers of family obligations from the Hierarchical Linear Modeling model presented in Table 1. High refers to adolescents who were 1 SD above the mean, Medium refers to adolescents who were at the mean, and Low refers to adolescents who were 1 SD below the mean.

cant for those who were at the mean, b .43, SE .07, t 5.84, p .001, and those who were 1 SD below the mean, b .23, SE .10, t 2.15, p .05. Gender also modied the daily association between the occurrence of studying and the total number of family obligations such that the association was less strong, although still signicantly positive, for girls, b .31, SE .11, t 2.91, p .01, as compared with boys, b .56, SE .11, t 5.32, p .001. Finally, results indicated that adolescents engaged in more family obligations for a greater amount of time on weekends as compared with weekdays. The difference in time was greater for girls, b .52, SE .07, t 7.47, p .001, than boys, b .24, SE .08, t 3.14, p .001. Even after accounting for the individual-level predictors in equations 2 through 5, signicant amounts of variation remained in the average daily obligations of youths as well as in the effects of socializing with peers and studying on those obligations, 2s(127, N 132) 160.33884.37, ps .001. Additional analysis. An additional HLM model was estimated to explore the possibility that the more negative daily-level associations of peer and study time with obligation time for girls shown in Table 1 was due to the fact that girls spent more time overall on family obligations. That is, the sheer amount of time that girls spent on family obligations may have made it more difcult for them to balance their obligations with other activities on a daily basis. Average

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daily obligation time was added to equations 3 and 4 to determine whether it could account for the effect of gender. Contrary to our expectations, the effects of average daily obligation time on the daily-level associations of peer and study time with obligation time were positive and large, peer time: b .16, SE .01, t 13.21, p .001; study time: b .27, SE .01, t 22.83, p .001. That is, individual adolescents who spent more time on family obligations overall were less likely to experience a daily conict between their family obligations and other activities. Consequently, the negative effect of gender on the daily-level associations became larger rather than smaller after including average daily obligation time, peer time: b .08, SE .02, t 3.79, p .001; study time: b .10, SE .03, t 3.28, p .001. Family Obligations and Psychological Distress Statistical model. HLM was also employed to examine the association between family obligations and psychological distress. Again, two identical models were estimated: one involving time spent on family obligations and other activities, and the other involving the number of family obligations and the occurrence of other activities. The daily-level component was as follows: Distressij b0j b1j (Family Obligationi) b2j (Peersi) b3j (Studyingi) (Weekday/Weekendi) eij) b4j (6)

(b00) and the average association between family obligations and distress (b10) across the sample, respectively; and an individuals attitude, gender, birth order, and generation. u0j and u1j represent the error terms in the equations that contribute to the variance unexplained by the other predictors. An initial analysis indicated that the variances in the daily-level effects of peers, studying, and weekend/weekday were so slight that the overall models could not be estimated when these effects were allowed to vary freely. Therefore, these effects were treated as xed effects in the models (equations 9 through 11). That is, the effects were not allowed to vary across individuals and they were not modeled as a function of individuallevel characteristics. Results. Table 2 shows that family obligations were not associated with feelings of psychological distress on a daily basis. That is, youths did not feel any more or less anxious and depressed on days on which they engaged in more family obligations or on days on which they spent more time on family obligations. In addition, these daily-level associations between family obligations and psychological distress did not vary according to youths attitude, gender, generation, or birth order. Adolescents did feel more distress on days on which they studied, and less distress on days on which they socialized with peers and on weekends.
Table 2 Estimates of Hierarchical Linear Modeling Model Predicting Psychological Distress by Family Obligation, Studying, and Socializing with Peers Obligation Time Daily Level Individual Level Intercept (average daily distress) Attitude Gender Birth order Generation Family obligation Attitude Gender Birth order Generation Socializing with peers Studying Weekday/weekend b (SE) 1.79 (.06)*** .07 (.08) .02 (.05) .18 (.05)*** .08 (.05) .02 (.02) .03 (.02) .00 (.01) .01 (.01) .02 (.02) .01 (.01) .03 (.01)*** .04 (.02)** Number of Obligations b (SE) 1.80 (.06)*** .11 (.09) .04 (.06) .15 (.06)* .09 (.06) .01 (.01) .03 (.02) .01 (.01) .02 (.02) .01 (.01) .06 (.03)* .06 (.03)* .05 (.02)***

where distress on a particular day (i) for an individual adolescent (j) was modeled as a function of the average distress of the adolescent across days (b0j), family obligations, peers, and studying on that particular day, and whether that particular day fell on a weekday or weekend. eij represents the error term in the equation that contributes to the variance unexplained by the other predictors. The individual-level component of the HLM models was as follows: b0j b1j b2j b3j b4j b00 b01 (Attitudej) b02 (Genderj) b03 (Birth Orderj) b04 (Generationj) b10 b11 (Attitudej) b12 (Genderj) b13 (Birth Orderj) b14 (Generationj) b20 b30 b40 u0j (7) u1j (8) (9) (10) (11)

Equations 7 and 8 indicate that the average daily distress (b0j) and the association between family obligations and distress (b1j) of a particular individual were modeled as a function of the average level of distress

Note: The estimates for the daily-level predictors represent the effects of those predictors across the entire sample, and the estimates for the individual-level predictors represent the effects of those predictors on the associated daily-level predictors. Ns 140 individuals, 14 days per individual. * p .05; ** p .01; *** p .001; p .10.

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Table 2 also shows that, on average, oldest and only children reported higher levels of average distress than middle and youngest children. Even after accounting for the individual-level predictors in equations 7 and 8, signicant amounts of variation remained in the average daily distress of youths, 2s(117, N 122) 720.85737.46, ps .001. There was no signicant variation, however, in the effects of family obligations on daily distress, 2s(117, N 122) 113.33154.50, ns). Activity Balancing and Psychological Distress Statistical model. A nal analysis was conducted to explore the association between adolescents balancing of activities on a daily basis and their overall level of psychological distress. Is a higher level of psychological distress associated with a daily conict (i.e., a negative daily association) between family obligations and studying or socializing with peers, or is greater distress evident for those youths who attempt to combine activities (i.e., a positive daily association) on a daily basis? To address these questions, the original HLM model for the balancing of activities was again estimated, this time with adolescents average level of distress added to the original equations 3 and 4 along with the other individual-level predictors. That is, adolescents overall level of distress was used to predict the extent to which socializing with peers and studying were associated with family obligations on a daily basis. Distress was also added to the original equation 2, to predict the average level of family obligations. Results. Adolescents overall level of psychological distress was not associated with their daily-level associations of socializing with peers and studying with family obligations. This was true for both the time spent on the different activities, peers: b .02, SE .02, t .74, ns; study: b .01, SE .03, t .41, ns, and the number and occurrence of the activities, peers: b .10, SE .12, t .82, ns; study: b .06, SE .12, t .49, ns. In addition, psychological distress was not associated with the average level of family obligations, time: b .06, SE .20, t .32, ns; number: b 0, SE .19, t .01, ns. DISCUSSION Chinese adolescents spent slightly less time assisting and being with their family than they did studying and socializing with peers, and the extent of the youths involvement in family obligations varied according to their gender and attitude. Girls demonstrated a signicantly greater involvement in family

obligations than did boys. Traditional Chinese culture dictates such a role for females (e.g, Wolf, 1970), and the practice continues among immigrants in an American society in which girls also play a larger role in family assistance and support than do boys (McHale et al., 1999). Gender was also implicated in the difference between weekdays and weekends in adolescents involvement in family obligations. Not surprisingly, all youths spent more time being with and assisting the family on weekends. This difference, however, was even greater for girlsalmost an additional hour per day on weekends. The great increase from weekdays to weekends for girls suggests that if it werent for the constraints of school, the overall level of involvement of girls in family obligations would be even greater. This possibility could be explored in additional research that samples time periods in which school is not in session, such as summer recess and other vacation periods, as has been done in other studies of adolescents activity involvement (Crouter & Larson, 1998). Along with gender, adolescents endorsement of their family obligations predicted variations in their actual involvement in such activities. Those youths who believed that they should engage in family obligations more often reported a greater number of such activities on a daily basis as compared with their peers. In contrast to the number of family obligations, however, those with a stronger sense of family obligation did not spend any more time engaging in such activities. These differential ndings suggest an interesting way in which adolescents attempt to act in accordance with their beliefs. Youths who identify with their cultural tradition of family support do seem to perform more obligation-related activities on a daily basis. Yet the amount of time youths spend on such activities on any particular day appears to have less to do with their beliefs, and more to with the youths involvement in other activities on that particular day. It may be that the critical measure of whether these youths are fullling their obligations, at least to the youths themselves, is simply whether they engage in such behaviors, regardless of how much time they spend on the tasks. Alternatively, the lack of association between youths beliefs and time spent on family obligations may have been due to the fact that time estimates are more prone to reporting errors and bias than simply indicating whether an activity was performed. Adolescents showed a greater propensity to balance their family obligations with their academic demands than with their social life with peers on a daily basis. Such a selective balancing likely reects both the nature of family obligations within Chinese cul-

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ture, as well as features of the activities themselves. In terms of time, the negative daily-level association between studying and family obligations was rather small and only one half the size of the same association between peers and family obligations. In terms of the number of family obligations, adolescents actually engaged in a greater number of obligation-related behaviors on days on which they studied. The apparent balancing and even combining of family and school among Chinese youths stems from the importance placed on both arenas in the youths cultural background (Ho, 1981). Doing well in school and being part of the family are critical values in Chinese traditions, and both of these cultural beliefs remain among immigrant Chinese families in the United States (Fuligni et al., 1999). The tendency for Chinese adolescents with a strong sense of obligation to combine studying and family obligations more than their peers reects the even greater importance these adolescents place on academic success (Fuligni & Tseng, 1999). The fact that both activities can be done at home enables the youths to successfully accomplish the twin goals of doing well in school and assisting the family at the same time. In contrast to schoolwork, socializing with peers and performing family obligations interfered with one another on a daily basis. This nding likely reects both the importance that the Chinese youths placed on socializing with their friends and the independent nature of peer activities in American society. Numerous studies of both Asian and Latin American youths have suggested that although family is important, these adolescents want to become involved in the rich peer life of American society (Gibson & Bhachu, 1991; Zhou, 1997). In our previous study, Chinese youths spent just as much time socializing with peers and were as likely to seek advice from peers as were adolescents from other backgrounds (Fuligni et al., 1999). Gibson (1988), in her discussion of assimilation without accommodation, highlights how immigrant teenagers want both to be involved with their peers and to maintain their connection to their families traditions. Our ndings suggest that despite the importance placed on both arenas, it is very difcult for adolescents to balance the amount of time they devote to family and peers. During the high school years, peer activities are rarely under direct parental supervision (Csikszentmihayli & Larson, 1984). Given that peer socializing tends to take place outside of the home, Chinese adolescents are less able to balance their family obligations with peer socialization the way they balance family obligations with academic activities. The fact that performing family obligations and socializing with peers were nega-

tively associated on a daily basis for youths, regardless of their social roles and attitude, suggests that the conict is difcult for most youths to overcome. As with the overall involvement in family obligations, youths gender played a role in their balancing of activities on a daily level. Girls appeared to experience slightly greater daily-level conict in the amount of time they spent on family obligations, peers, and studying. This conict could not be attributable to girls simply spending more time on family obligations. Rather, other factors surrounding the obligations themselves may play a role. For example, daughters social roles often center specically on family assistance, and so adolescent girls may carry greater responsibility for the quality and completion of household tasks such as cleaning and taking care of siblings. Parental expectations and demands regarding such tasks are also greater for girls than for boys (Goodnow, 1988). Factors such as these may require greater focus and attention from girls and give them less leeway in balancing obligations with other activities. Girls also may be more likely than boys to be asked to sacrice other aspects of their lives when family needs or demands arise. Additional studies employing a diary method could assess the social expectations regarding the quality and reliability of family obligations among girls versus boys to better understand the impact of gender roles on youths daily experiences. In contrast to the suggestions of some observers of children from immigrant families, neither the level of adolescents involvement in family obligations nor the daily-level balancing of family obligations with other activities were associated with youths psychological distress. These ndings are consistent with other recent research that has suggested a remarkable level of adjustment among adolescents from immigrant families, despite the challenges they may face in adapting to American society (Fuligni, 1998). Family obligations may provide the children from immigrant families with a sense of identity and purpose in an American society that, at times, has been accused of emphasizing individualism at the cost of heightened levels of adolescent alienation (Spence, 1985). It may be that such a sense of purpose may counteract whatever strain that may result from having to balance family obligations with the demands of school and peers. Nevertheless, there may still be feelings of role conict, strain, and difference that stem from family obligations. Adolescents from immigrant families do express such emotions to ethnographers and interviewers (e.g., Surez-Orozco & Surez-Orozco, 1995), and the total range of affect surrounding family responsibilities should be explored further. It should be kept in mind, however, that feelings of difference and

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role conict among adolescents from immigrant families do not mean that these youths will suffer from high levels of psychological distress. It would be important to compare these ndings with other samples of youths. The Chinese adolescents from immigrant families in this study spent approximately 1.25 hours per day assisting and being with their families. In contrast, previous studies of predominantly European American high school students have obtained estimates of approximately .7 hours per day spent on household chores (Robinson & Bianchi, 1997; Timmer, Eccles, & OBrien, 1985). Given the fact that the time estimates in the current study included time spent both assisting and being with the family, it is difcult to directly compare them to those obtained with other populations in other studies. Nevertheless, the fact that the Chinese immigrant youths spent similar amounts of time on family obligations and on socializing with peers suggests that supporting and spending time with the family occupies a greater proportion of these youths time than that of other adolescents. European American high school students have been found to spend anywhere from 80% to 100% more time with peers than with family members (Csikszentmihalyi & Larson, 1984; Fuligni & Stevenson, 1995). Future studies of family obligation should obtain separate estimates of time spent assisting the family and time spent on leisure activities with the family to more accurately compare the behaviors of youths from different groups. Comparing the behaviors of Chinese youths in varied contexts would be useful. The youths in this study attended schools with ethnically diverse groups of adolescents, but lived in long-standing, predominantly Chinese neighborhoods. It is possible that adolescents whose families settled in areas with a less established Chinese community, or in areas in which they were a distinct minority, would feel more pressure to downplay their cultural traditions of family support and obligation, and experience greater conict between activities on a daily basis. Youths in such areas could also experience greater role strain and psychological distress surrounding their family responsibilities. Conversely, youths in predominantly Chinese societies in East Asia may experience less conict between activities because family obligation would be more of a cultural norm for children and adolescents. It also would be important to examine how both the endorsement of family obligations and the balancing of obligations with other activities change as a function of development. Children and preadolescents may experience less conict between activities because of their lower level of involvement with

peers and because parents may rely on them less for family support and assistance. In contrast, older adolescents and young adults often experience greater demands for family assistance (Goodnow, 1988) and their level of maturity may engender a sense of responsibility toward parents and family that would make family obligations a more dominant presence in their lives. Both the ndings and the approach of this study have important implications for our understanding of the process of acculturation of adolescents from immigrant families. We found that those adolescents who had a stronger identication with the cultural tradition of family obligation differed from their peers in the extent to which they engaged in family obligations and balanced such obligations with their academic lives. Several current approaches to acculturation argue for a simultaneous examination of individuals global orientation to both the native and the host cultures (e.g., Berry & Sam, 1997; Buriel & De Ment, 1997), and it would have been informative for us to include an additional measure of orientation toward American society in the present study. Yet we believe that the daily-level approach, as opposed to the more common individual-level approach, more closely approximates the process by which adolescents from immigrant families adapt to their host society. The diary method enabled us to tap the day-today negotiations that youths made between specic aspects of their native culture and selected features of the host society, which we believe to be the heart of the acculturation process. Nevertheless, it would be useful to combine the two approaches in future research to determine whether the daily-level negotiations tapped by the diary method are related to both the type and the change in the general orientation toward host and native culture that is tapped by traditional measures of acculturation. It would be informative to examine also the extent to which youths feel that their attitudes toward family obligations t with the values of their parents, their peers, and the larger society. Like many other youths from immigrant families, Chinese adolescents face the need to balance their cultural traditions of family duty with the norms of being a teenager in American society. The results of the present study suggest that such a balancing act is selective in nature. Recognizing the dual obligation of helping the family and doing well in school, the youths in this study attempted to balance and even combine the two activities on a daily basis. In contrast, the tendency for familial and peer activities to interfere with one another on a daily basis highlights both the independent nature of peer activities in the

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United States and the desire for Chinese youths to participate in such activities. Together, these ndings demonstrate the complex manner in which adolescents from immigrant families attempt to combine aspects of their cultural background with aspects of American society. In contrast to the expectations of some observers, the youths in this study appeared to accomplish such an integration with little cost to their psychological well-being. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Support for this research was provided by a William T. Grant Foundation Faculty Scholars Award and a grant from the New York University Research Challenge Fund. The authors would like to thank May Lam for her assistance with the data collection, and David Almeida for reading an earlier version of this manuscript. ADDRESSES AND AFFILIATIONS Corresponding author: Andrew J. Fuligni, Center for Culture and Health, UCLA, C8-698 NPI, Los Angeles, CA 90024; e-mail: afuligni@ucla.edu. At the time of this study, Andrew Fuligni was at New York University. Tiffany Yip and Vivian Tseng are also at New York University.

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