Đời cha ăn mặn, đời con khát nước: Perceptions of intergenerational trauma and parenting styles on self-compassion in adult children of Vietnamese refugees



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Intergenerational trauma originates from distressing experiences that negatively impact survivors and their descendants (O’Neill et al., 2016). Research on intergenerational trauma in Vietnamese refugee families suggests that parent-child relationships can be a path for trauma transmission. Although self-compassion has served as a protective buffer against traumatic symptoms and racial trauma (Chopra, 2021; Germer & Neff, 2015; Neff, 2011), there are no studies that examine the link between both intergenerational trauma and parenting styles on adult children’s self-compassion. The researcher sought to determine if intergenerational trauma and parenting style in Vietnamese refugee families impact their offspring’s ability to engage in self-compassion. Using convenience sampling, the researcher recruited 275 adult participants in the United States who had Vietnamese refugee parents. Participants completed an online self-report questionnaire containing demographic questions, a modified Harvard Trauma Questionnaire (HTQ) (Han, 2005; Mollica et al., 1992) for each of their parents, the Parental Authority Questionnaire (PAQ) (Buri, 1991), and the Self-Compassion Scale (SCS) (Neff, 2003a). Descriptive statistics were used to analyze demographic data. Bivariate correlations and multiple regressions were used to test hypotheses. Hypothesis 1, which suggested a negative relationship between intergenerational trauma and self-compassion, was partially supported. No significant relationship was found between perceived fathers’ or mothers’ trauma and self-compassion, but fathers’ trauma had a positive relationship with self-judgment, isolation, and over-identification within the self-compassion construct. Hypothesis 2 proposed that higher intergenerational trauma and authoritarian parenting would lead to lower self-compassion; this prediction was not supported. None of the parenting styles moderated intergenerational trauma’s relationship with self-compassion. However, permissive fathering showed a positive association with self-compassion. Authoritarian parenting had a positive association with self-judgment and isolation. Authoritative and permissive parenting in fathers resulted in less self-judgment and isolation. Hypothesis 3 predicted that fathers’ trauma will be more predictive of self-compassion; this was prediction was partially supported. Adult children of Vietnamese refugees reported greater levels of self-judgment, isolation, and over-identification when their fathers experienced more trauma. Authoritarian parenting’s positive relationship with children’s self-judgment and sense of isolation were more pronounced when it came from fathers versus mothers. Implications for theory, practice, training, and future research were discussed.



Psychology, Clinical