Culture, Ethnicity, Language, Values, Traditions, Customs: Important Concepts to understand the Transition of Immigrant Hispanic Families (*)

Culture has been defined as the human-made part of the environment and as the group’s dynamic response to its geographical and historical circumstances. Culture encompasses both shared interpretations of reality as well as shared behavioral patterns among those who speak a particular language dialect, in a particular geographic region, during a specific historic period (Triandis, 1994). Kluckhohn (1954) stresses that culture is to society what memory is to individuals, while Sodowsky, Kwan, and Pannu (1995) describe culture as a unifying influence that combines the different aspects of life into a logical whole and therefore also integrates psychologically the members of a culture.
Shweder and LeVine (1984) emphasize culture as shared elements (categorizations, beliefs, attitudes, norms, role definitions, values) that provide the standards for perceiving, believing, communicating, and acting among those who share a language, a historic period, and a geographic location. These shared elements are transmitted from generation to generation with modifications. In addition, culture arouses a sense of attachment or identification with the group.
Culture’s definitions usually reflect a static view of culture as the distinctive set of beliefs, values, morals, customs, and institutions that people inherit through growing up in a specific societal environment. However, recent views of culture, although not discarding the importance of a person’s cultural inheritance of ideas, values, feelings, ways of relating, and behaviors, have focused equally on the importance of viewing culture as a process in which views and practices are dynamically affected by social transformations, social conflicts, power relationships, and migrations (Geertz, 1973; Good, 1994).
Finally, since cultural change is a worldwide phenomenon and diverse intracultural variations can be expected in all societies, including those of Latin America (Vega, 1990), another approach to the study of culture could be one that focuses on its emergence from the daily social practices and life experiences of individuals and small groups.
In conclusion, culture might be defined as both a product of common and shared group values, customs, habits and rituals, ways of perceiving, labeling, explaining and relating with all of the different aspects of reality, norms and social rules of behavior that individuals learn through the process of socialization, as well as the continually evolving and changing group’s responses to the historical and environmental challenges.

Three important components of culture are ethnicity, language, and values, traditions, and customs.
As members of an ethnic group interact with each other, their ethnicity becomes a means by which culture is transmitted. According to Phinney (1993), only three aspects of ethnicity could be assumed to account for its psychological importance; they are: (a) the norms, values, attitudes, and behaviors that are typical of an ethnic group and that stem from a common culture of origin transmitted across generations; (b) the subjective sense of ethnic group membership that is held by group members; and (c) the experiences associated with minority status, including powerlessness, discrimination, and prejudice. These three aspects are not independent; rather, they are overlapping and confounded.

Language can be considered both the main aspect of human development since it provides the opportunity to engage in social interaction, and the main aspect of cultural development since it serves as an agent for generational integration. Jointly shared symbolic expressions that are articulated through language are the means of socialization; they create a social bond between individuals, social groups, and institutions, and the roles and social relations available in society are transmitted and internalized through language (Aponte, 1976).
Similarly, language is the means by which people internalize experience, think about it, try out alternatives, and conceptualize and strive toward future goals. Language is a powerful vehicle for expressing emotions and even though we think with visual symbols as well as with other sensations and perceptions, words make reflective and conceptual thinking possible.
Language use is affected by regional variations, social class, education, migration, and multiculturalism within many Latin American countries. Different Latin American countries use different words for the same things and concepts, and have different expressions and different emotional weight on the same words.

Values, Traditions, Customs
The external factors of geography not only place further limits on a person’s choice but also work out his/her own value system. Customs and habits develop within the reality of human survival in the environment. Similar statements can be said with regard to history, time perspective, and orientation to space. Consequently, each culture has its own value system, its own enduring organization of beliefs concerning preferable modes of conduct or end-states of existence along a continuum of relative importance.
Value system exerts its influence upon all aspects of the social structure and organizes the individual’s thinking, feeling, and acting. Major life transitions (such as births, weddings, deaths), the relationship between people and the natural and spiritual worlds, the relationships among people and the kinds of supports they provide each other, as well as public celebrations, both religious and secular, provide insight into community and national identity, and the social, economic, and political dynamics of groups. They reflect a culture’s view of the world, the ways that people create meanings for their lives, reinforce old or establish new social ties, manage social conflicts, or resist social oppression. However, value orientations are also high social ties, manage social conflicts, or resist social oppression. However, value orientations are also highly situation dependent and are maintained and reinforced by certain social context.


(*)This article is based on the Chapter II of the Qualitative Study of the Acculturative Process of Immigrant Hispanic Families. Marquez (2000). Doctoral Dissertation.

Sociocultural Context and Family Functioning (*)

Family can be defined as an organized, dynamic, natural, and social system with critical dimensions for psychosocial analysis such as structure, functions, and influence (Winch, 1963). As an ongoing living and developing system, family members are essentially interconnected and tied to one another by powerful, durable, reciprocal, emotional attachments, and loyalties that may fluctuate in intensity over time but nevertheless persist over the lifetime of the family. Similarly, as an interdependent network of individual forces, the family relates and reacts as a unified whole, a whole that transcends the sum of its separate elements. The family’s interdependence and mutual influence goes beyond what family members do and say to each other when they are together. It also includes the family member’s attitudes and dispositions as well as the patterns of activity that family members engage in when they are apart (Houston & Rempel, 1989).
According to family life cycle theory, family systems must continually adapt to the individual development of its members. Since much of the individual development is incremental, little substantive change in the family is required; rather the simple addition or deletion of behaviors is adequate. In contrast, major developmental thrusts and unexpected circumstances, which usually require a transformation of the status of family members, demand a new repertoire of behavioral sequences, and subsequently require the emergency of a new structural organization. Therefore, a key to adaptive family functioning is the ability to shift internally to accommodate intra- and extra-familiar pressures, while simultaneously maintaining the continuity essential to family cohesion and individual security. In sum, family functioning requires a range of patterns of behavior that can be mobilized for new operations but also requires flexibility to develop alternative patterns of behavior that can be incorporated in time of crisis without disorganization.
Another important dimension of family theory is the concept of family boundaries that represents the “perimeter” of the family. Family boundaries hold together the components that make up the family system, protect them from outside stresses, and control the flow of matter, energy, and information to and from the system itself (Miller, 1978). If boundaries are too permeable, the system loses its integrity and identity. If boundaries are too impermeable, the system is cut off and isolated.
In conclusion, the nature of the family life could be seen as dynamic, fluid, interactional, with members constantly working to achieve the desired ends in the context of ever-changing and emerging family-related values (Mace & Mace, 1978).

Family Internal Organization as a Response to the Sociocultural Context
An understanding of the functioning of any family requires attention be given to the environment in which the family interacts. This includes the neighborhood, peer groups, church, school, and workplace that touch family members directly, as well as the larger political, governmental, and economic situations.
Every family belongs to a defined cultural community by identifying itself with a common group as set off by race, religion, nationality, or by some mixture of these categories that serve as social-psychological referents and create, through historical circumstances, a sense of peoplehood (Gordon, 1964). Consequently, every family is interwoven in a continuous interchange with its own economic and sociocultural environment to accomplish its universal functions or tasks (Bronfenbrenner, 1986).
The family’s four universal functions or tasks are: (a) the function of replacement or reproduction; (b) the function of position conferring by introducing the new member into the ethnic and cultural larger societal group to which the family belongs; (c) the parentifying function–fulfillment of basic physiological and psychological survival needs through nurturance, emotional gratification, and support; and (d) the socialization/enculturation of the offsprings so they can qualify as full members of society (Winch, 1977, p. 108).
Ideally, the relationship between the family and its sociocultural environment involves mutuality and reciprocity, social articulation, and recognition, so it can create a sense of belonging and of historical continuity for the family and its members. The environment should provide the protection, security, support, and supplies that will enhance family functioning. Therefore, when these resources are inadequate, the results may be stress and conflict within the family and failure in the individual development of its members.
The way in which a family is organized is determined by the way people make their living, that is, by the mode(s) of subsistence and the related technology (Winch, 1977). Consequently, in response to its sociocultural environment, all families develop some type of internal structure that serves as the family’s organizational framework. This framework is a manifestation of the values of the cultural group to which the family belongs and is responsible for developing culturally typical procedures and relationships that will make it possible for the family to achieve its goals and actualize its potential. Family structure can be defined as the set of rules, roles, power distribution, specific forms of communicating, and ways of negotiating and problem solving. The interactions that define the internal organization of every familial group also serve to maintain the integrity and balance of the family system as a whole.
Some characteristics of the family structure are: (a) it gives to each family its identity, unity, and stability; (b) it regulates and facilitates family members’ psychosocial development, and family members’ coping mechanisms to deal effectively with stress, as well as facilitates family fulfillment of its own tasks as a family; and (c) in the presence of external stress or unexpected crisis, the family structure develops and arranges itself into a functional group to jointly perform family-related functions, preserve the family values, and transmit their behaviors.
Finally, since family structures as an adaptive response of the family to the sociocultural system and to the historical circumstances in which it is embedded, it is expected that family structure changes its power structure, rules, and role relationships in response to situational and developmental stress (Olson, Russell, & Sprenkle, 1983).

(*) This article is based on the Qualitative Study of the Acculturative Process of Immigrant Hispanic Parents. Marquez (2000). Doctoral Dissertation.

Stress associated with Migration and Acculturation (*)

Stress is commonly conceptualized as an altered state of an organism produced by agents in the psycho-social, social, cultural, and/or physical environment. It is assumed that this altered state, when unmitigated, produces deleterious physical and/or mental health effects for certain individuals (Sowder, 1985).
According to Sowder (1985), Warheit in 1979 formulated a model that encompasses the systematic relationship among life events, coping resources, stress, and stress outcomes. According to him, stressful events can arise from the following sources: the individual’s biological constitution, the individual’s psycho-social characteristics, the culture, the social structure (including interpersonal relationships), and the geophysical environment. Stress responses to those events involve a dynamic, synergetic interaction of elements that include the characteristics of the event or events, the idiosyncratic qualities of the individual, and his/her personal, social, and cultural responses.
The adaptive screens in the model represent the coping resources available to individuals as they attempt to meet the demands placed on them by life events. These resources are: the individual’s unique biological and psychological constitutions, social and economic resources, familial and other interpersonal relationships, and the other secondary organizations provided by society and culture.
Following Warheit’s model, when a crisis event occurs (change of country, change of living, working, and/or school habits), the individual’s first line of defense is his/her idiosyncratic characteristics (psycho-social, physical, and genetic make up). When an individual’s resources are inadequate to deal with the demands occasioned by an event, it is hypothesized that the individual turns to extended sources of support such as family, friends, community social services, and the like. If all these resources prove to be inadequate, individuals may turn to culturally provided religious beliefs, values, and symbols for comfort, support, and resolution.
Born (1970) suggested that stress or pressure often arises for individuals during the acculturative process because of conflict between the individual’s culture of origin and the dominant culture. He has termed this reaction acculturative stress and has hypothesized that various coping responses are likely to be developed by the individual in his or her attempts to manage its effects.
Similarly, Berry and Annis (1974) described acculturation as a reactive adaptation to environmental crises between the two cultures. According to these authors, acculturative stresses vary as a function of (a) the degree of divergence between traditional cultural behaviors and behaviors that characterize the host community, and (b) the intensity of the pressure to acculturate in that community.
Years later, Williams and Berry (1991) provide a detailed model of acculturative stress to conceptualize its impact on refugee populations. They suggested that acculturative stress is a function of an individual’s acculturation experience and the nature and number of stressors he or she encounters, and that a number of factors such as mode of acculturation, phase of acculturation, nature of larger society, characteristics of the acculturation group, and characteristics of the acculturating individual moderate the relationships between acculturation experience and potential stressors, as well as the relationship between those stressors and perceived acculturative stress.
According to this model, the acculturative stress varies at the individual level. For example, individuals who have attained an independent cognitive style of interaction with others as well as with their environment would be less susceptible to the stress of sociocultural change. Acculturative stress among the immigrant Hispanic community has been widely researched and documented (Mena, Padilla, & Maldonado, 1987) with most of the studies arriving at the conclusion that this form of stress is common but not inevitable.
In conclusion, the degree of stress associated with acculturation could be a function of the number, frequency, intensity, duration, and priority of the demands placed on the individual in relation to the various coping resources he/she may turn to.


(*) This article is based on the Chapter II of the Quaalitative Study of the Acculturative Process followed by Immigrant Hispanic Parents. Marquez (2000). Doctoral Dissertation.

Migration and Acculturation of Hispanic Families (*)

Migration occurs for diverse reasons, and the adjustment of the immigrant family depends on the extent to which its original expectations of the migration compare with its reality. Immigration could also be involuntary, such as the case of political refugees, who ran away of turmoil of their countries to save their lives, and of Hispanic children and women who must follow their fathers and/or husbands (Salgado-de-Snyder, 1987a, 1987b). The literature related to the settlement of refugees usually designated them as a population at risk for emotional distress (Lin, Tazuma, & Masuda, 1979). Similarly, those family members who “ought to” follow the family usually present themselves as “anchored” in the home country and thus experience loyalty conflict between the adopted country and the country of nativity (Baptiste, 1987). Rogler et al. (1987) proposed a framework for understanding the migration experience. It places the migration experience between two impinging sociocultural and economic contexts–the society of origin and the host society–and describes the migration process as composed of three fundamental traditions. They are (a) alterations in the bonding and reconstruction of interpersonal social networks, (b) extraction from one socioeconomic system and insertion into another, and (c) movement from one cultural system to a different one. In addition, Gurak and Rogler (1980) described the gradual process of settlement of immigrants in the United States as the result of increasing local commitments: “As time passes some immigrants find better jobs, make financial commitments, marry non-immigrants, or form families which enmesh them in locally based reciprocal obligations” (p. 4).
Although the very act of migration may constitute a brief transition, recent research suggested that the more pre-migration traumatic events experienced by immigrants, the greater the experience of acculturative stress later. Moreover, several authors working with the experience of Central American immigrants suggested that the post-migration stressors in combination with premigration stressors can result in a sense of loss of personal control and in a feeling of being overwhelmed (Cervantes, Salgado de Snyder, & Padilla, 1989; Padilla, Cervantes, Maldonado, & Garcia, 1988; Plante, Manuel, Menendez, & Marcotte, 1995).
Gurak and Kritz (1984) studied the relationship between migration processes and the family. Using a historical-structural perspective, the authors described the family as a key social group that intervenes between the macro-economic forces that set the stage for migration and the individuals who ultimately move. Thus, although migration decisions can be influenced by the economic needs of the household, they also are influenced by the household structure and functioning, as well as by the socialization standards of the household. Hence, as emotional ties to the family increase, the probability of migration decreases or contributes to the maintenance of closer ties following the migration process.
Similarly, since the family itself is a link between individual members and the larger society, the information about alternative opportunities in other places is transmitted by extended family members. These connections among family members play a significant role not only for deciding the place of settlement but for moving along the path of acculturation.
Finally, although it is said that immigration produces a radical transformation of the meaning one makes about the social world and that also involves modifications of one’s identity (Lorenzo-Hernandez, 1998), there is increasing evidence that (a) ethnic values and identification are retained for many generations after migration (Greeley, 1974); (b) ethnic values play a significant role in family life and personal development throughout the life cycle (Gilgaud & Kutzik, cited by McGoldrick, 1982; Lieberman, cited by McGoldrick, 1982; Teper, cited by McGoldrick, 1982); and (c) traditional attitudes toward family norms and practices are retained until or even beyond the occurrence of central changes within their ethnic community and society (Torres-Matrullo, 1980).

The social science literature provides many complex answers with many divergent viewpoints to the phenomenon of acculturation. Although there is little consensus among researchers, most definitions include the notion that (a) acculturation is an open-ended process, (b) which involves complex processes of attitudinal and behavioral modifications (Padilla, 1980) and/or changes for accommodating to a total cultural context (Szapocznik & Kurtines, 1993), and that (c) acculturation results from cultural learning through mutual interactions when two autonomous cultural groups are in constant contact with each other, leading to change in one or both cultures depending on the power relationship between them (Felix-Ortiz et al., 1994).
For the majority of immigrants the key component in this process of creating a relationship with the new world is learning the language that make possible the direct contact with this new reality. The growth that results from exchanging information and the self-meaning given by direct communication cannot occur without this basic ingredient. On the contrary, individuals will become dependent on intermediates for communication and for getting meanings from their surrounding circumstances. The lack of knowledge of the language of the new place also limits the cognitive maturational effects that come with learning a second language, as well as the expansion of the cultural horizons.
Given the intimate interdependence of culture and language, it may be presupposed that acculturation is impossible without mastery of the new language. As Kim (1988) has stated, the dynamic transformation to increase an immigrant’s fitness and compatibility with the host environment is the result of a communication process. According to her, communication facilitates the immigrant’s learning experience and leads to increased self-awareness and personal growth, and to the disappearance of the confusion and disorientation associated with cultural shock. Consequently, communication patterns reflect the degree to which an individual identifies with a culture as well as the threat presented to the individual’s social identity by the new culture.
Thus, acculturation emerges as an ongoing (Felix-Ortiz et al., 1994) and dynamic psycho-social process which not only involves becoming knowledgeable in the language, norms, and values of the new culture, but also involves changes in a person’s cognitive and emotional structures. These changes occur when the newcomer has to re-learn new meanings for [social] symbols, has to readjust–and sometimes thoroughly change–his/her own system of values and, especially, when the immigrant person has to relinquish some old customs, beliefs, and behaviors. (Burman, Telles, Karno, Hugh, & Escobar, 1987, p. 107)
Casas and Pytluk (1995) did a review of literature and found that the psychological and social changes that may occur in the process of acculturation are dependent on (a) the characteristics of the individual, (b) the intensity of and importance given to the contact between the various cultural groups, and (c) the actual numerical balance between individuals representing the original culture and those who represent the new and more than likely larger majority culture.
Similarly, Clark, Kaufman, and Pierce (1976) found that immigrants and their descendants may demonstrate selective acculturation: They may acculturate more in some aspects than in others. In addition, Cronin (1970) stated that immigrants showed differential acculturation in public versus private behaviors.


(*) This article is based on the Chapter II of the Quaalitative Study of the Acculturative Process followed by Immigrant Hispanic Parents. Marquez (2000). Doctoral Dissertation.

Immigrant Hispanic Families in Cultural Transition (*)

Gurak and Kritz (1984) found two competing conceptual frameworks in the study of the relationship between family and acculturation. One proposes that the migrant person with close family ties in the receiving community will be less likely to seek out support networks, information, and activities with non-immigrants in the host community because the closeness and mutual dependence within the family serve to insulate the migrant from the extra-familial world. The other one affirms that the presence of relatives facilitates the migrant’s initial adjustment process in the host community, in that such familial support fosters the migrant’s reaching out to the extrafamilial world.
Although immigrant Hispanic families must be involved in a process of internal modification to answer the demands of the host society, they too have to insure a sense of continuity with their own home culture and tradition. Thus the family has to regain its social articulation and sense of pertinence and recognition in the mainstream culture of the host society without losing the historical connection with their own ethnic roots. Consequently, immigrant Hispanic families are within two different cultural environments, while they are working out a path from one culture to the other.
As happens with individual immigrant persons, the transition of progressive change of immigrant Hispanic families from one cultural set to the other is possible only through the cumulative interaction between the families and both cultures. Similarly, during the transition from one culture to the other, these immigrant families need to do selective adaptations over and over again, and they also need to undergo processes of differentiation in order to make healthy decisions and choices for their accommodation to the new socioeconomic and cultural context.
The normal changes and stresses (as well as the reactions and disruptions in family patterns that arise as a consequence) bring about a systematic need for these families to restructure, reintegrate, and realign so as to meet the needs of its members before, during, and after the event of migration from one culture to the other. Moreover, where the stresses are extreme and the support systems of the family are insufficient, severe crisis frequently results. In addition, the lack of resolution of these transitional issues and the unresolved transitional conflicts may lead to dysfunction in the family system.
The need for restructuring is particularly important because it is within the family and/or with its support that the individual family members will develop the inner balance necessary to relate to the new culture (that demands adjustment and change) without losing their cultural identity and traditional roots.
Immigrant Hispanic families also experience a shift from an extended family in their homeland that provided a social network and emotional support to a nuclear family. Some immigrant women acquire better status through the opportunities for employment and education and consequently, tend to acculturate faster than men. This specific situation also fosters the opportunity to develop greater independence and husbands become upset by their wives’ ready acceptance of their new gender roles and by the challenge to their patriarchal authority (Espin, 1987).
In addition to the conflicts arising between husband and wife, there are also intergenerational conflicts. In the process of acculturation and the learning of English, Hispanic children in the United States acquire values and attitudes that could be different from those of their parents. The differences between the family’s child-rearing practices and their children’s newly acquired set of values lead to chronic unresolved conflicts within the family. When these intergenerational differences arise, the parents experience alienation from their highly acculturated children, and the children, in turn, experience alienation from their poorly acculturated parents.
In an effort to cope with these differences, the parents attempt to restrict the process of acculturation in their children. However, such attempts could either (a) further alienate the youngsters from family interactions and the values of the parents’ culture, precipitating a rejection of the parental lifestyle and a fuller adherence to the behavior characteristics of the host culture; or (b) some become marginalized–belonging to neither group–and eventually may become outcasts.
The differential rates of acculturation across generations of family members not only have impact on the nuclear but also on the extended family members as well. For immigrant Hispanic grandparents the exposure to stressors such as loss of country, in some cases loss of status, as well as failure to adjust to the new environment due to the lack of knowledge of the language and United States ways, result in anxiety, depression, withdrawal, despair, meaninglessness, anomie, and loss of a sense of purpose in life (Szapocznik & D. Santisteban, 1977).

As Baptiste (1987) has stated, immigrant families were unaware that migration and acculturation would be an stressful experience that could result in family conflicts. Furthermore, since the conflicts often occurred after a lapse of time (for some families as much as five years) following their arrival in the United States, most families tended not to ascribe any importance to the move itself as having contributed to their problems. (p. 237)

It is only when individual family members start to experience the lack of skills necessary to cope adequately with adaptation to the new culture that symptoms of maladaptive behaviors and family disorganization appear, and they begin to recognize the stressful nature of the migratory experience as well as the cumulative impact on them as members of immigrant families (Sluzki, 1979). However, Sluzki also stated that a countless number of people manage to break away from their basic support networks, sever ties with places and people, and transplant their base, their nest, their life projects, their dreams, and their ghosts.
In conclusion, migration can produce family disorganization (Gurak & Kritz, 1984) and the likelihood of persistent handicaps in its members due to language barriers, lack of knowledge of rules and regulations, limited financial means, and lack of adequate reference groups. In addition, the continual interaction that immigrant families have with both environments and the short- and long-term consequences of such interactions pose a challenge for research of the nature of these dialectic and transactional influences.


(*) This article is part of the Chapter II of the Study of the Acculturative Process of Immigrant Hispanic Families (2000). Doctoral Dissertation.

Comprehensive and Culturally Sensitive Program in Response to the needs of Immigrant and First Generation Hispanic Children and their Parents (*)


The processes of migration and acculturation experienced by immigrant Hispanic students and their parents have been the topic of interest to a great number of investigators in recent years, specially in the states of California, Florida and New York. In these states during the last two decades there has been a steady influx of Hispanic, Haitian, South Asian, and other ethnoculturally diverse families. It is very probable that the social institutions more affected by these changing demographics are the private and public schools that have received and continue to receive the children of those immigrant families. For these families the school has had to perform an extraordinaly different role, that of serving as “an intersection between the home culture and the mainstream American culture” (Provenzo, 1985, p.iii).

Whether migration is voluntary or involuntary, it constitutes an “uprooting” experience when immigrant persons need to interrupt their personal histories, sever their social ties, and later begin the formation of new relationships in a foreign environment. Hence both processes, migration and acculturation, often creates confusion and disorganization for individual members as well as for the whole family (Ho, 1987).

The review of relevant literature suggested that after migration takes place, the newly arrived persons must face and experience a psychosocial process of adjustment to the new setting. Throughout this process immigrant persons move through several phases while they undergo behavioral and attitudinal changes and modifications at different levels of functioning (Padilla, 1980). Moreover, this acculturative process of learning (Marin, 1992) resulting from the day-to-day mutual contact and communication of immigrant persons with both native and host cultures (Kim, 1988).

In conclusion, the adaptive process of cultural transition involves

  • (a) becoming knowledgeable of the language, norms, and values of the new culture; and
  • (b) readjusting to a new system of values by modifying behaviors and attitudes, and by relinquishing some old customs, beliefs, and behaviors.

In that sense, acculturation can be conceptualized as the path that facilitates the movement from one cultural system to another. For Hispanics, this transition is particularly demanding because of difference of values, religious practices, language, political system, and other social attributes.

To understand the importance and the effects of those changes on the immigrant family, at least two very complex situations requires attention.

  • The social sciences suggest that every family is involved in a continuous interchange with its economic and sociocultural environment to accomplish its universal functions or tasks (Bronfenbrenner, 1986). Consequently, the cultural values and ethnicity of the family not only mediates these interactions with the external world but they also define the family structure and internal organization of its values, ways of communication and behaviors (Ho, 1987).
  • By the same token, either through generalized learning in a particular milieu or as a result of specific instruction and training, parents teach their children -through language, rituals, customs, habits, roles, and ethnocultural modes of behavior- how to live together in their immediate environment (Rodriguez & Vila, 1982).

Consequently, the migration experience may interupt and ruptures the continuity of the family interactions with its environment as well as their socio-cultural parenting experiences.

Sluzki (1979) suggested that the family passes through five stages during the process of migration and adjustment to the new setting. According to Sluzki each of these stages “has distinctive characteristics, triggers different types of family coping mechanisms, and unchains different types of conflicts and symptoms” (p. 380). Siomilarly, each stage presents a unique set of crisis and challenges that the family must negotiate and to which the family system has to adapt. Throughout the transition from one cultural environment to the other, immigrant families give up roles and ways of functioning that do not fit with the new cultural values of their immediate environment and adapt to those demanded by the new society (Eisenstadt, 1955). A number of changes and modifications help the immigrant family

  • to continue being the matrix of its members’ psychological development (Minuchin, 1974), and
  • to accommodate to the different cultural requests and challenges.

It should not be assumed that immigrant Hispanic families migrate in a planned fashion or at optimal moments. An extensive number of Hispanic immigrants saw their nuclear families broken when individual family members began their migratory journey one by one, leaving behind the resources and support of their own family systems. The resulting membership change within every fragmented familt bring the need for each family (both here and there) to restructure its roles, functions and transactions. Moreover, since individual family members migrate at different points of the family life cycle, when the nuclear family is finally reunited, each one of the family members may have different definitions of themselves and of their family’s internal organization. Of course, the effects of these disruptive changes and interruptions vary, depending on the inner resources of each specific family, its strength, and its previous history and ability to adjust to stressful situations without falling into disruption.

F inally, review of literature revealed that one of the most far-reaching effect that acculturation has on the immigrant family is the increased instability and disorganization within family structure.

Immigrant Children Within the Elementary Schools.

In many educational districts of the United States immigrant Hispanic children as well as first generation Hispanic children constitute the majority of the student body. This Hispanic presence has been recognize during the past years, and also it has been predicted that this presence will continue to outnumber other racial and ethnic groups (2000 Census Report).

The informal assessment of those immigrant children shows that they are coming from a variety of racial, ethnic, and educational as well as socio-economic backgrounds. There are three generation family network with diffuse boundaries, families who came from rural areas who have to face the stress of living in rubanized neighborhoods, high risk families due to unemployment and underemployment, single parent families, ethnic blended families, overcrowded apartments hosting more than one family as well as other relatives, undocumented families, and so on.

Rutter (1980) said that a single stressful situation/ experience typically carries no appreciable psychosocial risk for children. However, when children are exposed to multiple stress situations the adverse effects usually multiplies. Review of relevant literature found that culturally different children wxhibit relatively weak self-concept in their answers to direct questions about how they perceive themselves, and also about how they think others perceive them. As a result, usually they set goals for themselves that are less in line with their actual potential. Secondly, culturally different children appear to be more vulnerable to peer pressure that other children and less independent in their perceptions and behaviors.

Tharp (1989) stated these important variables to consider when working with minority children: educational frustration, language development, context instruction, social organization and motivation. In addition, culturally different children experience academic stress usually related to learning a new language -even when a child has learned the conversational aspects of the second language, it may take him/her five years, on the average, to learn the aspects of language related to cognitive functioning.

While researchers agree that children from different family backgrounds can acquire basic school skills, the general consensus among them is that to master these skills children must get some minimal as assistance from their parents (Edwards, 1990). Many Hispanic parents cannot help their children with schoolwork due to their own limited English proficiency and lack of education, but it does not mean that they are not concerned about their children’s school success.

Secondly, Marquez (2000) study on Immigrant Hispanic families found that their interactions with intermediate structures like schools and churches are are very important in their first years after migration. However, the review of literature stated that Hispanic famiy interaction with those social structures dropped as the family the family is less in need of structural support and is more able to profit from direct exposure to the new environment.

Therefore, there is a great need for programs

  • that bridge the communication gap between schools and Hispanic homes,
  • that minimize the psychosocial and cultural effects associated with migration and acculturation.
  • that provide parents not only information but strategies for parenting their children in the new environment,
  • that create a consultive and collaborative alliance between school professionals, teachers, students and their immigrant Hispanic parents.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:

Theoretically, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, views emotional problems and responses as influenced by negative or extreme thought patterns. Therse patterns have frequently become so habitual that they are experienced as automatic and go unnoticed by the individual.

Review of literature found this technique successful with self-defeating behaviors, lack of assertiveness in interpersonal relatioships, as well as poor social skills and self-esteem.

These principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy have been selected for this progran because this method is:

  • Goal oriented -the counselors work with teachers, students, and/or parents to met goals for counseling and also to monitor progress periodically to assess whether the goals are being met.
  • Practical and concrete -Counseling goals will focus on solving current, specific and concrete problems experienced by students in the classroom.
  • Active -Counselors, teachers, students and their parents play an active role in counseling.The counselors in consultation with parents and teachers will (a) direct students attention to the discovery of their behavioral and learning problems, (b) serve as teachers and coach of the expected behaviors; and (c) engage students in their own change by assigning homework and by encouraging them to practice the strategies learned in the session.
  • Collaborative -counselors, teachers, school administration, students and their parents work together to understand and to develop strategies to address the students’ learning and behavioral difficulties.
  • Short-term: -the counseling interventions with students and/or their parents will not last more than 12 sessions whenever it is possible.

The Program:

This comprehensive response encompasses a period of one academic year.

The overall goal of this response is to assist immigrant Hispanic families with their immigrant and first generation Hispanic children who are experiencing learning andd behavioral difficulties. This assistance will consist in providing

  • to immigrant Hispanic parents psychological support, opportunities for emotional ventilation as well as parenting techniques, and
  • to their immigrant and first generation children opportunities for training in new patters of learning and behavior within the school setting.

This overall goal will be fulfilled through these objectives:

  • the provision of opportunities for Hispanic parents to discuss, clarify, vent and alleviate the psycho-soci0-cultural stresses associated with immigration and acculturation in order to improve their socio-emotional adjustment and the quality of life at home (Clark, 1983).
  • (if needed) the provision to Hispanic families of counseling services using a short term and task oriented approach.
  • the provision of culturally sensitive consultation with teachers and school personnel working with immigrant and fiest generation Hispanic children aimed to discuss different patterns of cognitive functioning as well as different system for organizing learning and thought.
  • the provision of culturally sensitive parent enrichment programs on child rearing practices, patterns of communication, conflict resolution, negotiation and decision making skills, cultural value differences, and child cognitive development.
  • the provision of individual and group counseling to immigrant and first generation Hispanic students to help them deal with their learning and/or behavioral difficulties as well as to improve their self esteem and assertive behaviors.

The methodology to implement the above goals and objectives will follow this schedule:

First Academi Marking Period:

  • based on teachers request of services to the Student-Staff-Support Team prepare the list of possible immigrant and first generation Hispanic students in need of assistance.
  • consultation with their teachers: it will encompasses (a) observation of the student in different academic and non-academic settings.
  • based on teachers’ responses to the McCarney’s Learning and Behavior Problem Checklist and using the Pre-Referral Intervention Manual of McCqarney, Wunderlich & Bauer, design in collaboration with teacher a plan of learning and behavioral strategies tailored to the specific situation of each student.

From the beginning of the Second to the end of the Third Academic Marking Periods:

  • Counseling sessions with 8 students in each group/ The emphasis of these sessions will be improving self esteem and self worth.). The emphasis of these individual sessions will be (a) to help them understand the possible sources of their children’s academic and/or behavioral difficulties, and (b) to provide them with culturally sensitive strategies to overcome the difficulties.

Fourth Academic Marking Period:

Collaborative evaluations of the results obtained and of the strategies used with each one of the students referred.

The effectiveness of the overall goal and its objectives as well as of its methodology will be measured by the noticeable improvement of the academic and the behavioral performance of each immigrant and first generation student referred between the end of the First and the end of the Third Marking Periods. The definition of noticeable improvement (which will be different for each student) will be done at the b eginning of the referral process through a collaborative consultation between parent, teacher, counselor, and student.


(*) This comprehensive project ahs been designed based on the research, rationale, and instruments developed by Gelasia Marquez, Ph.D. for the Helping Hands Project/Model (copyright Library of Congress TX 3 075 455).


Bronfenbrenner, U. (1986). Ecology of the family as context for human development. Developmental Psychology, 22, (PP.723-742).

Clark, R.M. (1983). Family life and school achievement: Why poor black children succeed or fail. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Edwards, P.A. (1990). Strategies and Techniques for Establishing Home-School Partnership with minority parents. In A. Barona & E.E. Garcia. Children at Risk: Poverty, Minority Status and other issues in Educational Equity. Washington DC: NASP.

Eisenstadt, S.N. (1955). The absorption of immigrants. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.

Ho, M.K. (1987). Family therapy with ethnic minorities. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications Inc.

Kim, Y.Y. (1988). Communication and Cross Cultural Adaptation. Philadelphia, PA: Multilingual Matters Ltd.

Marquez, G (2000). Qualitative study of the acculturative process followed by immigrant Hispanic families. Fordham University. NY: Unpublished.

Marquez, G. (1989). Helping Hands: A counseling program for Hispanic families in cultural transition. Brooklyn, NY: Unpublished.

Marin, G. (1992). Issues in the measurement of acculturation among Hispanics. In K.F. Geisinger (Ed.). Psychological Testing of Hispanics. (pp. 235-251). Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association.

McCarney, S.B., Wunderlich, K.C., & Bauer, A.M. (1993). Pre-Referral Intervention Manual. MO: Hawthourne.

Minuchin, S. (1974). Families and Family Therapy. Cambridge, MA: Harvaard University Press.

Padilla, A.M. (1980). The role of cultural awareness and ethnic loyalty in acculturation. In A.M. Padilla (Ed), Acculturation theory, models and some new findings (pp. 47-84). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Provenzo, E.F. (1985). Preface. In H, Silva, The children of Mariel: Cuban refugee children in South Florida Schools. (p. iii). Washington DC: The Cuban American National Foundation.

Rodriguez, A.M. & Vila, M.E. (1982). The emerging Cuban Women of florida’s Dade County. In R,E, Zambrana (Ed.). Work, family and health; Latina women in transition. Monograph 7. New York: Hispanic Research Center. Fordham University. Monograph Series.

Rutter, M. (1980). Protective factors in children’s response to stress and disadvantage. In M.W. Keny & J.E. Rolf (Eds). Prymary Prevention and Psycho-Pathology. Chapter III: Promoting Social Competence and Coping with Children. Hannover, NH: University Press of New England.

Sluzki, C.E. (1979). Migration and family conflicts. Family Processes, 18. (pp. 955-961).

Tharp, R.G. (1989). Psychocultural variables and constants. Effects of teaching and learning in schools. American Psychologist, 44, (pp 349-359).

Importancia de la Escuela (2)

Desde mediados del siglo pasado las escuelas en los Estados Unidos han jugado y juegan un papel crucial en el ajuste de los niños irlandeses, italianos, judios, hispanos, es decir, en el ajuste de los niños inmigrantes a la sociedad Americana -los que llegaron traídos por sus padres y los nacidos en suelo americano de padres inmigrantes.

El sistema escolar representó y representa para estos niños inmigrantes el Puente entre la cultura nativa y familiar en la que eran moldeadas sus personalidades desde antes de nacer y la cultura de la sociedad en que viven. Las escuelas enseñan las formas culturalmente específicas de pensar, de entender, de juzgar la realidad objetiva, las formas culturalmente típicas de comunicarse y de resolver problemas. Las escuelas no solo enseñan sino que “entrenan” a los niños inmigrantes en los valores que más tarde les van a permitir ajustarse, disfrutar y aspirar con el resto de la comunidad americana a alcanzar el sueño americano -libertad, repeto a los derechos individuales, democracia, y oportuniddes para todos sin discriminar la edad, el sexo, la raza, la religion= que sus padres vinieron buscando cuando tomaron la decision de emigrar a America.

El sisterma escolar ha sido visto y es visto por nosotros, los padres inmigrantes, como el vehículo que ha hecho y puede seguir haciendo realidad el avance social de nuestros hijos, de nuestro grupo etinico, de nuestra comunidad. LA ESCUELA ES EL PRIMER PELDAñO DE LA ESCALERA PARA TODOS -PADRES E HIJOS-.

No es nada fácil la tarea que tiene la escuela. Idealmente la escuela debe respetar el language, la cultura, y la tradición del estudiante inmigrante al tiempo que le introduce e integra gradualmente en la sociedad Americana que le acoge. La palabra respetar es muy importante en esta explicación. Del respeto que el estudiante reciba para su language y su cultura va a depender directamente el buen o mal concepto que el estudiante tenga despues por ellos, asi como la buena o mala imagen social que tendra de si mismo durante el resto de su vida.

Es decir, (1) el respeto y el aprecio de sí mismo van de la mano;

(2) el aprecio de sí mismo es un factor determinante en el futuro del estudiante,;

(3) el aprecio que de si mismo tiene el estudiante inmigrante tiene que ver con el aprendizaje del idioma inglés; y

4) del respeto y del aprecio que el estudainte inmigrante tiene de su origen étnico, de sus raices culturales, de sus padres y abuelos es fundamental para el desarrollo de una identidad bilingúe y bicultural..

Las cuatro afirmaciones anteriores nos permiten afirmar que hogar y escuela van de la mano y deben respetarse y complementarse la una a la otra. Hogar y esceula facilitan el proceso de desarrollo de la identidad personal. Una identidad que se inicia en el hogar y se continúa en la escuela.

Todos y cada uno de nosotros tiene una idea de sí mismo que se ha venido formando desde que el niño comienza a establecer relaciones con los demás –familiares y conocidos=. Asi la idea de quienes somos nosotros, de cómo somos nosotros, y de cuánto valemos se ha ido moldeando como resultado de cómo se nos ha dicho que somos, de cómo creemos qie somos, y de la interpretación que hacemos de nuestross exitos y de nuestros fracasos,.

A esta pintura interna que de nosotros tenemos contribuyó de manera muy importante los calificativos que nos fueron dados desde que nacimos en nuestros hogares, en las escuelas, en la sociedad en general asi como los juicios que nosotros fuimos haciendo de nosotros mismos a medida que ibamos viendo como era aprobado o desaprobado nuestro funcionamiento en la vida. A esa imagen que noeotros tenemos de nosotros mismos ;e asignamos un “valor”que en cierta medida refleja cómo la sociedad valora los atributos que poseemos y los frutos o éxitos que alcanzamos, -de acuerdo con lo que llamamos nuestra efectividad social.

La escuela es la primera representante de la sociedad con la que los niños se relacionan. La escuela podra despertar en los niños inmigrantes la idea de que de ellos se puede esperar mucho, de que ellos seran un relevo efectivo de las generaciones hispanas presentes,de que ellos seran mas capacitados que muchos de sus padres y podran crear una comunidad mejor, de que ellos seran un elemento contributivo de calidad en la sociedad americana.

Desgraciadamente, en muchas oportunidades la escuela puede crear otra imagen. Los estudiantes inmigrantes necesitan una educación remedial – para enseñarles el idioma del pais y, en muchos casos,  para nivelar los conocimientos que traen de sus paises de origen con los conocimientos que se imparten en este país. Esto no los hace inferiores a los otros estudiantes sino diferentes. Cuando las autoridades de la escuela –administradores, maestros, y auxiliaries-no conocen el idioma ni la cultura de los estudiantes inmigrantes pueden no entender sus actitudes y sus conductas y les ven como “raros”, Ambos juicios -inferiores y raros- contribuyen a bajar as expectativas  que maestros y administradores tienen para estos estudiantes. Les ven como si ellos no pueden aspirar a otra cosa que a aprender oficios o retomar los oficios de sus padres –en la agricultura y en la construcción. Aun más, en algunos casos, cuando los estudiantes inmigrantes llegan al sistema escolar cuando son adolescentes y jovenes en lugar de tratar de conocer los patrones  culturales en los que ellos fueron socializados, les dan el calificativo de inadaptados sociales o malajustados emocionales. Es muy duro decirlo, pero todo parece indicar que cuando un esrudiante inmigrante es aplastado “por la rueda del sistema educacional” dificilmente podrá “levanter cabeza” más tarde en la vida.

Si profundizamos en la trascendencia de lo presentado anteriormente nos preocupamos porque los estudios han demostrado que las personas que buscan ayuda sufriendo problemas psicológicos en la edad madura lo hacen generalmente porque sienten que no sirven para nada, que no valen para nada, porque tienen una pobre estima de si mismos. Las personas que tienen un pobre concepto de si mismos tienden a sufrir de ansiedad,  miedo,s inhibiciones en la vida social y se convierten en personas que no pueden dar más porque no se atreven y sufren no solo por no poder dar más sino por no atreverse a hacerlo.

Los padres inmigrantes tenemos que estar conscientes de que todo lo anterior puede pasar. Por eso tenemos que educar a nuestros hijos en el concepto de que que ninguna forma cultural es superior ni inferior a otra, sino solamente diferente. De la misma forma que ninguna lengua/idioma es superior ni inferior a otra sino solamente diferente. Cada cultura y cada lengua surge y se desarrolla para ayudar al nativo a ajustarse y a funcionar en respuesta a su medio ambiente natural -geografico, historico, politico, económico, y social. Consequentemente, el estudiante Hispano no es inferior al estudiante  Americano. El estudiante  Hispano tiene los mismos derechos, las mismas abilidades, la misma dignidad que el estudiante Americano.

Finalmente, los padres Hispanos tenemos que ayudar a nuestros hijos a sentirse orgullosos de su herencia y cultura Hispana, de su “yo” Hispano, Los padres Hispanos tenemos que estar conscientes de que en la medida en la cual nuestros hijos aprendan el idioma y la cultura Americana en esa misma medida seran mas ricos pero no porque se estan “americanizando” o haciéndose superiores sino porque el conocimiento del idioma y de la cultura Americana les estara dando los recursos necesarios para ajustarse productiva y sanamente a la sociedad que les ha acogido y donde estan viviendo ahora.. Es decir, en la medida en la cual nuestros hijos pongan junto a su herencia, cultura e idiioma Hispano el idioma y la cultura Americana podran ser capaces de desenvolverse mas eficazmente en dos medios ambientes distintos –en el hogar y comunidad hispana y en la sociedad Americana,

Immigrant Hispanic Families

A good number of immigrant Hispanic families settled in the United States are experiencing again severe periods of crisis, confusion, and uncertainty. Let me explain why I am affirming that.

First of all, let’s remember that after migration took place, the newly arrived persons and/or families faced and experienced a psychosocial process of adjustment to the new setting. This process is called acculturation.

The social scientistics present this acculturative process as an ongoing and dynamic process of learning resulting from the day-to-day mutual contact and communication of immigrant persons and/or families with both native and host cultures.

To understand the importance and the effects of those changes on the immigrant family, at least two very complex situations require attention. First, we need to remember that every family is involved in a continuous interchange with its economic and sociocultural environment to accomplish its universal functions or tasks. Consequently, the cultural values and ethnicity of the external world define the family structure and internal organization and its values, communication, and behavior. Secondly, either through generalized learning in a particular environment or as a result of specific instruction and training, parents teach their children the language, rituals, customs, habits, rules, and ethnocultural modes of behavior to live together in their immediate environment.

Therefore, the migration experience of the families interrupts and ruptures the continuity of the family interactions with their native culture. It is, throughout the transition from one cultural environment to the other, immigrant families give up roles and ways of functioning that do not fit with the new cultural values of their immediate environment and adapt to those demanded by the new society. Those changes and modifications help the immigrant family to continue being the matrix of its members’ psychological development, and to accommodate to the new society and its different cultural requests and challenges.
The current situation of a large number of immigrant Hispanic families due to their illegal status and to the fear of deportation of one or two of its members puts in hold all those modifications and adjustment achieved and places the internal growth of these families in a very distressful status. We are already facing the consequences.

Familias Immigrantes Hispanas

Un buen numero de familias inmigrantes Hispanas que viven en los Estados Unidos estan experimentando de nuevo severos neríodos de crisis, confusión e incertidumbre. Déjenme explicarles porque afirmo esto.

Ante todo recordemos que despues que las personas o que las familias inmigran experimentan un proceso psico-social de ajuste a sus nuevas circunstancias. Este proceso es llamado aculturación.

Los científicos sociales presentan el proceso de aculturación como un proceso continuo y dinámico de aprendizaje a través del contacto y de la comunicación diaria entre el recién llegado y miembros de su propia comunidad y de la comunidad del nuevo medio ambiente.

Para entender la importancia y los efectos de este aprendizaje en la familia inmigrante, debemos recordar dos aspectos del desarrollo de la familia que son muy complejas e importantes. Ante todo, necesitamos recordar que cada familia está en un continuo intercambio con su medio ambiente económico y socio-cultural para poder llevar a cabo sus tareas reconocidas universalmente. En consequencia, los valores culturales y la etnicidad de sus circunstancias socio-culturales van a definir la forma en que la familia se va a organizar internamente asi como tambien cuáles van a ser los valores, formas de comunicación y de conducta que esa familia tendra.

En segundo lugar, bien a traves del aprendizaje informal o como resultado de formas específicas de instrucción y de entrenamiento, los padres enseñan a sus hijos el language, los rituales, las costumbres, los habitos, y las formas culturalmente aceptadas de relacionarse, de comunicarse, y de vivir los unos con los otros en ese medio ambiente específico. En consequencia, la experiencia de la migración interrumpe y rompe la continuidad de las interacciones entre la familia y su medio ambiente nativo. Más tarde, a través de diferentes transiciones psico-socio-culturales la familia inmigrante va modificando y cambiando su forma de organización interna dentro del hogar y va ajustandose a los nuevos valores culturales -va adaptándose a su nuevo medio ambiente socio-cultural. Son estos cambios y modificaciones los que han ayudado a la familia immigrante Hispana a continuar siendo la matriz a través de la cual se llevan a cabo el crecimiento psico-social de sus miembros y su acomodación a los diferentes retos sociales que ha ido confrontando.

La situación actual que vive un largo número de nuestras familias inmigrantes Hispanas como resultado de su status legal y del peligro de deportación que sufre uno o mas de sus miembros pone en suspenso las modificaciones and ajustes alcanzados y colocan el desarrollo interno de estas familias en un estado de crisis y de sufrimiento. Desgraciadamente, ya estamos viendo las consequencias.

Posibles Respuestas a las Familias Immigrantes Hispanas en Transición Cultural.

Las posibles respuestas a las familias immigrantes en transición cultural pueden ir desde una combinación de información, educacion, oportunidades para expresar y ventilar las emociones, apoyo, y contacto con otras familias que estan en circumstancias similares,hasta la intervención y el apoyo professional durante períodos de crisis.

Obviamente, todas estas intervenciones necesitan ser llevadas a cabo en el idioma de la persona migrante y dentro del contexto de su cultura. Como la familia es la sistema externo más confiable e importante para el desarrollo psicosocial de la persona asi como tambien es la primera celula social que tiene un lugar intermedio entre la sociedad y cada miembro de la familia, “la familia debe ser la matrix de todo proceso de sanación”(Minuchin, 1974).

Características de las familias immigrantes Hispanas:
1.Son familias cuyos miembros han migrado estando en diferentes momentos del desarrollo psico-social de sus vidas y que por tanto tienen diferentes definiciones de si mismos;

2. Son familias cuyos miembros pueden tener sus ciclos de desarrollo psicosocial aun sin haberse completado adecuadamente, o que son interruptidos productgo de la migración, o que pueden traer importantes problemas relacionadas con su madurez aun pendientes por resolver. Y esto sucede al tiempo en que ellos pueden estar tratando de entender las demandas que el proceso de adaptación a una nueva cultura le presentan cada día a cada uno de ellos;

3.- Son familias cuyas etapas normales de desarrollo como parejas o como padres se han visto detenidas o interrumpidas para lidiar con situaciones urgentes y específicas tales como aprender un segundo idioma, buscar una vivienda, o encontrar trabajo.

La planificación de las posibles respuestas debe incluir los siguientes elementos:

1. Analisis de la realidad donde el profesional debe llevar a cabo su misión;

2. Reflexión acerca de esta realidad a la luz de las investigaciones y de los escritos relacionados con las familias immigrantes Hispanas;

3. Basada en esta realidad, hacer un inventario de las necesidades más apremiantes y prioridad que éstas tienen;

4. Desarrollo de un plan de respuestas siguiendo un orden sequencial y, tanto como sea posible, envolviendo a todos los miembros de la familia y llevando a cabo las actividades en familia;

5. Implementación cuidadosa de los diferentes aspectos de las respuestas, llevando una agenda donde se registren las intervenciones, la asistencia, y los incidentes que permitan mas tarde analizar la intervención llevada a cabo;

6. Continuo proceso de evaluación de lo que se va haciendo para medir su efectividad y modificar aquellos aspectos que sea urgente hacerlo para mejorar las respuestas implementadas.

Análisis de la realidad:

1.Formas de migración: La migración ocurre por diversa rezones y el ajuste de la familia depende en gran medida de la comparación de las expectativas que movieron la migración cuántas de ellas se han cumplido en la realidad;

2.País de origen –su situación politica, económica y educacional;

3.Edad y etapa del desarrollo psicosocial en que se encuentran los miembros de la familia al momento de la migración;

4. Nivel socio-económico y nivel educacional de los miembros de la familia antes de migrar;

5. Presencia de sistemas de apoyo –familia, amigos, iglesia, grupos étnicos;

6. Grado de armonia entre las dos culturas –la relativa tension asociada con la migración es en parte determinada tanto por la cultura y el pais de origen tanto como por la cultura y el pais de adopción;

7. El nivel de adaptación y de aculturación logrado por la persona que migra es un indicador clave de la abilidad de la familia a cambiar.



Cuando favorecemos un ambiente de aprendizaje en la familia las ambiguedades y confusiones de los miembros se aceptan y se discuten en lugar de esconderlas o evitarlas tanto en los padres como en los hijos; y ambos, los padres y los hijos no solo mantienen una sana definición de sí mismos y dan un valor asociado a esa identidad sino que tambien aprenden a adaptarse paso a paso con los retos que le presenta el nuevo y diferente medio ambiente.

Conexiones entre diferentes grupos:

Estas estructuras intermedias entre el migrante y la nueva sociedad pueden facilitar o interferir con la aculturación dependiendo de las metas y las perspectives de los que las diseñan y las dirijen.


Las diferentes formas de intervención pueden ir desde grupos de apoyo no profesionales, hasta consejería individual, consejería de parejas, consejería de parejas y grupos terapéuticos de consejería.

Estas intervenciones terapéuticas deben ser concretas, directas, inmediatas, enfocadas en los problemas y orientadas a la acción. Estas intervenciones deben servir como catalizadores para el cambio, ayudando a las familias a tolerar la anxiedad, reconocer la inefectividad de las formas de conducta que se traen, mobilizar los recursos internos, explorar alternatives, y crear nuevos formas de pensar, sentir, y actuar.

Estas diferentes formas de intervención deben ir dirigidas hacia:

1.Fortalecer la estructura familiar;

2. Mejorar la flexibilidad interna de la familia asi como mejorar el funcionamiento de cada miembro de la familia de acuerdo con sus papeles sociales;

3. Reforzar la abilidad de los amigos, de la comunidad y de la sociedad para ofrecer el apropriado y efecrtivo apoyo;

4. Pomover una identidad bicultural definida al ayudar a los miembros de la familia a definir sus valores y creencias lo que le ayudara tambien a mejorar “su tolerancia ante lo diferente” (Bowen, 1978).