Parenting and Child Anxiety: The Role of Country of Birth and Acculturation in Indian-born Migrants to Australia Relative to Native-born Australians

  • Anisha Arora
  • Jess R. BakerEmail author
  • Alvin K. Tay
Original Paper



This study investigated the differences in parental beliefs about anxiety and parenting styles in Indian- and Australian-born mothers in Australia and whether these differentially related to child anxiety depending on maternal background and acculturation.


51 mother-child dyads from Sydney participated, consisting of Indian- or Australian-born mothers and their 8–12-year-old child. Mothers completed measures of their anxiety, their child’s anxiety, their beliefs about their child’s anxiety and their bi-dimensional acculturation (if Indian), i.e., an assessment of immersion into both Australian and native culture. Children completed a self-report of anxiety and a measure of their mother’s parenting style.


Indian mothers scored significantly higher on anxious rearing and negative beliefs about anxiety than Australian-born mothers. Moderated regression analysis revealed that Country of Birth did not significantly moderate the relationship between parenting and child anxiety, but acculturation did. Amongst mothers reporting low Indian cultural retention, negative beliefs about child anxiety and anxious rearing positively related to child anxiety. These relationships were reversed amongst mothers reporting high Indian cultural retention. Amongst mothers reporting high Australian cultural identification, emotional warmth negatively related to child anxiety; this was reversed for low Australian cultural identification.


Results highlight the importance of considering acculturation, specifically as a bi-dimensional construct, rather than COB when examining anxious behaviours and attitudes in migrants. Findings suggest that cultural adaptation of family treatment should look beyond COB and consider within-group differences in acculturative attitudes and status.


Child anxiety Parenting Bi-acculturation Indian-born migrants Parental beliefs 



We would like to thank all the families who participated in this research and Professor Derrick Silove (the University of New South Wales) for his input.

Authors’ Contributions

AA collaborated with the design of the study, executed the study, analysed the data, and wrote the paper. JB designed the study and collaborated with the writing of the study, the data analyses and the editing of the final manuscript. AT collaborated with the design of the study and data analysis.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were approved by, and in accordance with, the ethical standards of the University of New South Wales’ Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC15731) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of New South WalesKensingtonAustralia
  2. 2.School of PsychiatryUniversity of New South WalesKensingtonAustralia

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