Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

Variation in Parenting Characteristics and Adolescent Smoking by Parental Immigration Status

Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

Variation in Parenting Characteristics and Adolescent Smoking by Parental Immigration Status

Article excerpt

Abstract: Today, more US children have at least one immigrant parent. Because immigration shapes parenting characteristics, considering parental nativity is impor- tant. Using an ethnically diverse sample of 2,619 Southern California 6th graders, this study examines variation in associations between parenting characteristics and adolescent smoking according to parental nativity. All parenting characteristics were significantly related to adolescent smoking. However, parental monitoring is more protectivefor children with native born parents, while parental communication is more protective for children with foreign born parents. Findings demonstrate the importance of examining parents'birthplace in studies of parenting and health risk behaviors among ethnically diverse populations.

Key Words: Parenting Characteristics, Smoking, Immigration, Parental Nativity

Today more adolescents are likely to be the chil- dren of immigrants than in earlier decades. Be- tween 1990 and 2000, the numbers of immigrants in urban and metropolitan areas grew by 44% (Lollock, 2001). This has resulted in a large population of ado- lescents with immigrant parents (Portes & Rumbaut, 1998,2001). The most recent data reports that 16 million children in the US have at least one parent born in a foreign country. More specifically, 10% of all youth in California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois and New Jersey have immigrant parents (Karina, Capps, Simms, & Chaudry, 2009).

Adolescence is a developmental stage when health risk behaviors such as smoking are typically initiated (Schulenberg, Maggs, & Hurrelmann, 1997). Because parents are an important social influence on adolescent smoking behaviors, it is important to obtain a better grasp of the influence of parent-child relationships on tne smoking behaviors of children with immigrant parents ( Shakib et al., 2003; Shakib et al., 2004). Be- cause foreign born parents are likely to be less familiar with the culture, it is possible that certain parent-child experiences may be more effective in preventing risk behaviors among children with foreign born than native born parents and vice versa. However, few studies have examined differences in parent-child experiences between adolescents who are the children of immigrants and adolescents who are the children of native U.S. born parents (Portes & Rumbaut, 1998, 2001). Therefore, when studying the impact of parent- ing behaviors on health risk behavior in ethnically di- verse populations with high proportions of adolescents with immigrant parents, it is important to account for parents' birthplace. The purpose of this study is to ex- amine whether certain parenting characteristics place adolescents with immigrant parents at greater risk for smoking than adolescents whose parents are native US born. More specifically, this study will examine whether parents' smowng status, parent-child communication and parental monitoring behaviors impacts youth's risk for smoking with different intensity depending on whether youth's parents are native or foreign born.


According to national studies, 9.5% of adolescents in junior high school report smoking cigarettes (Cen- ters for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006). There is evidence having foreign born parents is a protective factor against adolescent smoking. This means that certain characteristics associated with having foreign born parents may increase adolescents' chances of en- gaging in healthy behaviors such as non-smoking. On the flip side, having native US born parents has been shown to be a risk factor for smoking. In other words, certain characteristics associated with having native US born parents seem to increase adolescents' chances of engaging in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking. For instance, the smoking prevalence increases with the numbers of generations a family lives in the US, through at least the 2nd generation in the US (Acenvendo- Garcia, Pan, & Jun, 2005). …

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