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Shirley SL Leung Cynthia Leung Ruth Chan

Perceived child behaviour problems, parenting stress, and marital satisfaction: comparison of new arrival and local parents of preschool children in Hong Kong

Objective

To compare parental perception of child behaviour problems, parenting stress, and marital satisfaction in new arrival and local parents.

Design

Cross-sectional survey; semi-structured interview.

Setting

Maternal and Child Health Centres, social service centres, preschools.

Participants

Parents of preschool children, including new arrival parents and

Main outcome measures

local parents. Child behaviour problems, parenting stress,

and

marital

Results

satisfaction. After controlling for socio-economic factors, new arrival parents

were more troubled by their children’s behaviour problems and their parent-child interactions were more dysfunctional than those of local parents. There were no differences in parent- reported severity of child behaviour problems, parental distress, and marital satisfaction. New arrival parents reported difficulties in adapting to the new living environment and lack of social support.

Conclusions

New arrival parents were more troubled by their children’s behaviour, and their parent-child interactions were more dysfunctional than those of local parents. These might in part be related to their settlement difficulties. Parenting programmes should address their specific settlement needs.

Introduction

Key words Child behavior disorders; Emigration and immigration; Marriage; Parenting; Stress,

psychological

Hong Kong Med J 2007;13:364-71

The Family Health Service of the Department of Health provides a population-based child health programme for children 0 to 5 years and their parents, comprising parenting, immunisation, and health and developmental surveillance. To better understand the needs of parents of different backgrounds, a series of studies on special-needs groups was conducted, one of which addressed families newly arrived from mainland China. An investigation into factors affecting the adaptation of these parents revealed that social support and self-efficacy were associated with positive adaptation outcomes.1 The present study examined the specific parenting needs of new arrival parents in comparison to local parents.

According to the 2001 census, there were 31 797 children (16 568 boys and 15 229 girls) aged 5 years or below, with one or both parents being new arrivals, accounting for about 9% of the total number of children aged 5 years or under in Hong Kong.2 From a public health perspective, an understanding of the needs of new arrival parents with young children is important for service planning.

Family Health Service, Department of Health, 18/F, Wu Chung House, 213 Queen’s Road East, Wanchai, Hong Kong SSL Leung, MPH, FHKAM (Paediatrics) C Leung, MSc, PhD R Chan, BSc, PhD

Correspondence to: Dr SSL Leung E-mail: shirley_sl_leung@dh.gov.hk

In Hong Kong, new arrivals from China are referred to as “Persons from the Mainland of China having Resided in Hong Kong for less than 7 years” (PMRs). Specificall , PMRs are persons who “(i) were born in the mainland of China; (ii) were of Chinese nationality with place of domicile in Hong Kong; and (iii) have stayed in Hong Kong for less than seven years.”2 The median domestic household income of PMR families (HK$12 050) was lower than that of the whole population (HK$18 705). There were more PMRs (70%) with lower secondary education level or below than in the whole population (48%). Most PMRs were

364

Hong Kong Med J Vol 13 No 5 # October 2007 # www.hkmj.org

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