How the Parent-Adolescent Acculturation Gap Impacts Youth Risky Behavior in Latino Immigrant Families

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 14:30
Location: Hörsaal I (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Stephanie AYERS, Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center, Arizona State University, USA
Elizabeth KIEHNE, School of Social Work, Arizona State University, USA
The push-pull framework formulated by Everett Lee (1996) postulates that, at a micro-level, families choose to migrate to provide a better life and increase well-being.  However, once in the destination country, children often acculturate more quickly than parents, leading to distress and conflict that deteriorates family functioning and promotes adolescent maladjustment, coined the Acculturation Gap-Distress Model.  This model theorizes acculturation as a unidirectional process (i.e., assimilation), instead of a bidimensional process, which neglects the culture-of-origin dimension that can be protective to well-being.  To further refine the Acculturation Gap-Distress Model, we examine the unique impact of both dimensions on parental monitoring and adolescent risky behavior.  Dyadic Latino parent-adolescent data (N=375) were collected from middle schools (n=16) in a large southwestern city in the United States.  The majority of parents were immigrants (94%), living in the U.S. >10 years (88%).  Using the two subscales of the Acculturation Rating Scale for Mexican Americans-II, adolescents scored significantly higher on Anglo orientation than on Mexican orientation, while for parents these results were reversed. Controlling for SES, parents’ education level, length of residence in the U.S., and sex, a path analysis model indicated that the parent-adolescent Mexican orientation gap was associated with less parental monitoring, which then predicted greater adolescent risky behavior. However, the Anglo orientation gap was not associated with any significant direct or indirect effects.  Building on the Acculturation Gap-Distress Model, findings help clarify the nature of the relationship between parent-adolescent acculturation gaps and adolescent well-being.  While adolescents were more Anglo-oriented than parents, the results suggest it is the Mexican orientation gap, rather than the Anglo orientation gap, that contributes to youth maladjustment through reduced parental monitoring.  This may reflect the more Mexican oriented parents’ reliance on indirect ways of monitoring their children, which may not work as effectively in a U.S. setting.