The Acculturation of Parent-Child Relations in Immigrant Families

Kathleen Mullan Harris, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Ping Chen, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This research examines processes of acculturation in parent-child relations across immigrant generation among adolescents in the United States using data from Add Health. We assess acculturation by contrasting parent-child relations among first generation youth with second generation youth and according to the length of time immigrant families have lived in the U.S. We capture the concept of generational dissonance, when parents' values and expected norms of behavior differ substantially from youth's, with measures of parental control, parent-child conflict, and educational expectations. In contrast, generational consonance is measured by family cohesion and parent-child closeness, communication, shared activities and weekly dinner meals, and satisfaction with the relationship. We test the hypothesis that generational dissonance is greater and consonance lower in the second generation compared to the first, and with longer time in the U.S., arguing that when adolescents acculturate more rapidly than parents, a "generation gap" in values and expectations for youth occurs.

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Presented in Session 106: Immigrant Children in the U.S.