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The Intergenerational Acculturation Gap: Family Conflict and Youth Maladjustment

Stafaj, Genta

Imagine a young Nicaraguan girl trying to explain to the doctor why her mother refuses to get a vaccination. Now imagine the mother confused and exasperated, having to wait on her daughter to translate why the doctor insists on driving a needle into her skin. In this culture clash, the child is caught in between as a cultural broker while the mother is forced to take on a passive role. As the example demonstrates, in immigrant families the process of acculturation can be severe, often disrupting family arrangements and emotional ties. The younger generation is able to adapt to the new culture quickly, learning the language and customs while the adult family members suddenly find their social status diminish due to the lack of education and language deficiencies. Their assimilation into American society therefore, rarely conforms to the ideal “melting pot” whereby immigrants are expected to shed their native cultural identity and uptake the values, beliefs and behaviors of the new culture. The process of acculturation itself however, is dependent on factors such as the nature of immigration, context of reception into the host country, and the age of immigration and time spent in the host country. Consequently, for many immigrant families, the process of acculturation challenges their self-worth, beliefs, and cultural practices resulting in family conflict and youth maladjustment.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Psychology (Barnard College)
Thesis Advisors
Seeley, Karen M.
Degree
B.A., Barnard College
Published Here
April 13, 2011
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