With globalization, transnational marriages become more and more common in the world. The mental health of the offspring of immigrants is a significant public health issue. The present study aimed to investigate whether children of immigrant mothers demonstrate more emotional and behavioral problems than those of native mothers in Taiwan.
In a sample of 6242 children in grade 3, grade 5, and grade 7 from a national epidemiological study of child mental disorders, 617 (9.9%) children were born by immigrant mothers (Chinese, Vietnam, Indonesia, and other countries) and 5625 children by Taiwanese parents. The children reported on Achenbach Youth Self-report, and their parents reported about them on the Child Behavior Checklist, Parental Bonding Inventory, and Family APGAR for assessing emotional and behavioral problems, mother's parenting style, and perceived family support.
Compared with children of native mothers, children of immigrant mothers reported themselves and were reported by their parents to have more externalizing and internalizing problems. However, after considering the effects of sociodemographics, parenting style, and family function, only significant differences in externalizing problems between children with native or immigrant mothers were found.
Our findings indicate that right parenting style and family support; may offset emotional and behavioral problems in children of immigrant mothers, and suggest that improving maternal parenting and family function is beneficial to child development, regardless of immigrant or native mothers.