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