Latino Families Broken by Immigration: The Adolescent's Perceptions

Latino Families Broken by Immigration: The Adolescent's Perceptions

Latino Families Broken by Immigration: The Adolescent's Perceptions

Latino Families Broken by Immigration: The Adolescent's Perceptions

Synopsis

During the 1980s, many Latinos left their children with extended family in order to immigrate to the United States. Based upon in-depth interviews with three male and four female Latino adolescents now reunited with their families, this study examines how they perceived their parents' departure. It was found that the quality of communication in the reunited families strongly influenced the children's perceptions of their parents' immigration. A practicing psychotherapist living in Virginia, Ceres was born and raised in Brazil. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Excerpt

Piecemeal immigration is common among families in poor and warstricken countries. During the 1980's, Latino immigrants often left their children with extended family and immigrated to the United States. This study explored the experiences, perceptions, and memories of Latino adolescents and young adults reunited with their biological parents after prolonged separation during childhood because of piecemeal immigration patterns. The main hypothesis was that these children's interpretation of the parents' departure as abandonment or as sacrifice shaped their internal working models of self and others. Such representational models, in turn, predisposed these children to develop specific affective, cognitive, behavioral, and relational patterns. Attachment theory provided the conceptual framework for this study.

Three male and four female Latino adolescents, ages 15 to 19, described their experiences, reactions to, and memories of the separation from and reunification with their parents during in-depth interviews. After each interview they participated in an experiential activity with a sand tray. The interviews were audio taped, transcribed, coded and analyzed, and the sand tray constructions were photographed and analyzed.

The context leading to the parent's departure; the family's interpretation of parents' actions; the parents' dependability as providers during the separation; and the quality of communication in these families upon reunification influenced how these children perceived the parents' immigration. The way love and affection was expressed by parents and caretakers; the marital status of the parents, and the children's perception of adults as supportive or critical influenced their representational model of self. The way families . . .

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