As Knight, Bernal, Garza, and Cota (1993) have stated, the social ecology in which a family is immersed determines the socialization processes and content that emanate from both familial and nonfamilial socialization agents. Enculturation or ethnic socialization is the process by which developing individuals acquire the cultural and psychological qualities that are necessary to function as a member of one’s ethnic group (Berry, 1993). These enculturating experiences pattern a person’s thinking, feeling, and behavior in both obvious and subtle ways (McGoldrick, 1982).
Similarly, this enculturative or socializing process shapes children’s self-concept and self-esteem while they absorb the culture of their parents and locate themselves within the first and minute sample of society–their homes and its sociocultural expectations. The socialization process occurs either by generalized learning in a particular cultural milieu, or as a result of specific instruction and training like when parents teach their children through language, rituals, customs, habits, rules, ethnocultural modes of behavior to live together in their immediate environment, society’s implicit assumptions regarding discipline, sexual behavior, religious beliefs, and minor matters such as routines at home.
In conclusion, children’s enculturation and training in the basic skills preferred by a given society always begin in the family and home environment. Through the process of socialization parents conform their children with culturally specific ways or preferred modes of perceiving and relating to others, of understanding the verbal and nonverbal symbols essential for communicating, remembering, and thinking as well as for problem solving and for the use of meaning and logic. In sum, parents are the first contributors and designers of the psychological frame of mind imposed by the language, the educational system, and the historical, cultural, and political trends of their children’s country (A. M. Rodriguez & Vila, 1982).
(*) This article is part of the Chapter II of the Qualitative Study of the Acculturative Process followed for Immigrant Hispanic Parents. Marquez (2000). Doctoral Dissertation.