Thirty-one percent of Chinese Americans affiliate with being Christian, making Christianity the largest religious group for the Chinese in the United States (Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 2012) and Chinese churches are the leading religious institutions among Chinese in America (Yang, 1999b). First generation Chinese American Christian parents have endured much through the immigration experience and put in their best efforts to raise their children in a foreign land where they have experienced discrimination, downward mobility (Zhou, 2009), and acculturative stress.

Second generation Chinese American Christians struggle with conflict with their parents and their ties to Chinese American culture, values and Christian faith (Sam Kim & Park, 2012). This intersection of culture and faith requires further research in the field of marital and family sciences. In the literature reviewed, what is especially lacking is an exploration of how the Christian faith plays a role in impacting intergenerational relationships of Chinese American families.

This dissertation is grounded on the framework of Bronfenbrenner’s (1977) ecological theory, which allows for the multiple systemic contexts under which Chinese American Christian families find themselves. Critical Race Theory and Locational Feminism/Intersectionality are intertwined to deepen understanding of the cultural and faith pieces of their lived experiences.

An interpretative phenomenological approach of analysis is used to develop a more complete understanding of the relational and familial dynamics among Chinese American Christians, how these dynamics show up in and get addressed by the Chinese church communities, and how might this awareness better inform family therapists about the cultural and spiritual ways of pursuing health and wellness in this context.

There are two publishable papers from this study: the first paper tells of the experiences of first and second generation Chinese American Christian family members and their intergenerational family dynamics as experienced in their context; the second paper references findings from the first paper and integrates these with the perspectives of pastors, discussing implications for how faith communities and the mental health field might work together for the wellness of these families and their communities.

LLU Discipline

Marital and Family Therapy


Counseling and Family Sciences


School of Behavioral Health

First Advisor

Knudson-Martin, Carmen

Second Advisor

Distelberg, Brian

Third Advisor

Huenergardt, Douglas

Fourth Advisor

Nelson, Timothy

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Chinese Americans-Family Relationship; Chinese American Families;

Subject - Local

Ecological Theory; Critical Race Theory; Interpretive Phenomenological Approach Analysis



Page Count


Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


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