Korean-American families are an underrepresented group within the family therapy literature. In particular, the realities and lived experiences of American born second generation Korean-American parenting couples is limited. Therefore, this qualitative grounded theory dissertation used a social constructionist lens to understand how American born second generation Korean-Americans, raised amidst contrasting Korean and western cultural ideologies, conceptualize parenting and position themselves in relation to their children within parent-child relationships. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 parenting couples of children between 0-10 years of age to illuminate ways in which multiple cultural discourses, bicultural socialization, and racialized experiences influence the parenting process. Two publishable papers resulted from this study. The first paper focuses on understanding how American born second generation Korean-American couples come to locate themselves in the social context and draw from sociocultural discourses to construct a parenting ideology. Second generation couples: (a) draw from the emotion generated upon reflections on first generation marginalization, and their own experiences of racism coupled with awareness of increased societal privilege, (b) consciously foster a sense of belonging in multiple worlds, and (c) nurture a strong sense of relational accountability within third generation children. The second paper features a grounded theory that explains how American born second generation Korean-American parents deliberately parent in ways to move away from rule-directed parenting approaches and instead foster relational connection. Three main parenting processes that were identified are: (a) subscribing to dominant culture socialization goals, (b) inviting open communication, and (c) promoting mutuality. In this study, particular attention was given to exploring the applicability of Tuttle et al.'s (2012) typology of parent-child relational orientations (TP-CRO) to this group. These findings suggest that it is important for therapists to not assume that American born second generation Korean-American couples carry forward the ethnic ideas that dominant discourses assume about them. It is important to locate their experiences within the larger social context and understand how multiple cultural ideologies impact their views on parenting. Furthermore, the TP-CRO (Tuttle et al., 2012) appears to be a useful resource to help therapists facilitate collaborative conversations with bicultural parenting couples around parenting concerns.

LLU Discipline

Marital and Family Therapy


Counseling and Family Sciences


School of Science and Technology

First Advisor

Knudson-Martin, Carmen

Second Advisor

Baker, Winetta

Third Advisor

Huenergardt, Douglas

Fourth Advisor

Tuttle, Amy R.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded

January 2012

Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Child-rearing - Korean-Americans; Child rearing - Social Aspects; Parenting; Parent and child

Subject - Local

Second-generation Korean-Americans



Page Count

187 p.

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.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses & Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives