¿ EDUCACION DE PADRES PARA FAMILIAS HISPANAS ?, 2

Muchas veces me he preguntado y me han preguntado si necesitan los padres hispanos recibir orientaciones relacionadas con la educación de sus hijos. No podemos contestar esta pregunta sin antes no poner todas las cartas sobre la mesa y asi, verdaderamente, entender la situación de las familias immigrantes hispanas que viven en los Estados Unidos y que estan pasando por el proceso de transición de un medio ambiente socio-economico cultural a otro.

Empecemos diciendo que toda persona y toda familia crece emocional, social y espiritualmente por medio de crisis. Y que cuando la persona o la familia se mueva de una cultura a otra o de un medio ambiente economico-político-cultural y social a otro la situación de crisis alcanza una magnitud mucho mayor en dependencia de varios factores.

La palabra crisis puede ser definida de una forma práctia: la crisis surge cuando en el desarrollo emotico y psico-social de la persona surge una situación o un reto que es nuevo o diferente a lo vivido por la persona, este algo nuevo es la mayoría de las veces, inesperado. Esta situación nueva es capaz de interrumpir el ritmo de equilibrio que la persona tiene en ese momento. Una crisis no conlleva necesariamente una reacción o una respuesta negativa. Los caracteres chinos que se usan para escribir la palabra crisis son: el signo que simboliza la palabra peligro y el signo que simboliza la palabra oportunidad. Por eso se dice que la crisis es una oportunidad de crecer, de mejorar, de cambiar,… pero si no sabemos enfrentar la situación de crisis puede convertirse en un estado de crisis… con las consiguientes consequencias de ansiedad, de tensión, de rabia, de impotencia, de depresión.

La situación de crisis pasa por diferentes etapas:

  1. aparece una situación nueva/diferente que no sabemos cómo solucionar, que nos produce tension en nuestras interacciones y que nos reta a buscar nuevas alternatives (es decir que nos obliga a crecer);
  2. ante lo desconocido, la persona siente signos de desorganización interna tanto emocionales como cognitivos;
  3. a persona hace intentos por resolver la situacion nueva que se le ha presentado usando las respuestas que el o que ella conoce y que han sido usadas anteriormente de forma satisfactoria. Al ver que no sirven en esta ocasión la persona comienza a ir adaptando las respuestas ya usadas a los nuevos retos;
  4. finalmente, la persona encuentra la respuesta adecuada que le hace sentir satisfecho, sin tensiones, adaptado. Y por consiguiente, la persona crece a una nueva etapa de su vida.

Aunque las crisis pueden ser personales, ellas envuelven a toda la familia. Por tanto, la crisis de un miembro de la family ofrece la oportunidad de crecer a toda la familia al reorganizar sus relaciones interpersonales, revalorar sus formas de conducta y de responder como grupo y les acilitar la oportunidad de como grupo, estar major preparados para enfrentar problemas en el futuro. Las crisis personales acarrean síntomas que todos en la family sufren. No olvidemos que las crisis conllevan desorganización emocional y cognitiva que se expresan en forma de inseguridad, ansiedad, tensión… y en casos extremos pueden ir acompañadas de regresiones temporales en algunos de los miembros. El ejemplo más frecuentemente usado es cuando el niño de 3 años empieza de nuevo a hacerse pipi en los pantalones o en la cama despues del nacimiento de su hermanita. O como cuando el adolescente se comporta como un niño con perretas a raiz del divorcio/separación de sus padres.

Lo anterior nos ayudar a entender cómo la crianza, educación y enculturación de nuestros hijos requiere muchas adaptaciones por parte de los padres. Adaptaciones personales, como pareja, como familia, y como miembros de una comunidad social. Y, para entender qué pasa y cómo se lleva a cabo la tarea de ser padres y cómo se sobreviven las diferentes crisis individuales y familiares, no solemos recibir cursos de orientación ni programas de entrenamiento. En nuestros paises de origen era relativamente facil criar a nuestros hijos no solo porque podiamos reproducir lo que nuestros padres hicieron antes con nosotros, sino porque podíamos ir mejorando los patrones recibidos basados en nuestras propias experiencias y podíamos irlas adaptandolas a los cambios y nuevas circumstancias sociales. Solo que nuestros padres y nosotros teníamos los mismos valores, las mismas formas de comunicarnos, de resolver problemas, de percibir y de codificar los diferentes estímulos de la realidad objetiva psico-socio-cultural. Además, en nuestros paises de origen y producto de nuestra tradición comunitaria que describe la familia de forma inclusiva (incluyendo no solo dos y/o tres generaciones de parientes pero tambien a los padrinos, vecinos, medico/dentista, maestros, amigos de los padres), la tarea de la crianza, educación y enculturación de nuestros hijos se hacia más facil por el apoyo y asistencia que nos brindaban todos los miembros de la comunidad en todos los momentos, pero especialmente cuando la familia atravesaba por periodos de crisis. Los padres immigrantes hispanos pueden contar solo con la intuición que les lleva a revisar y acomodar el entrenamiento que ellos recibieron de sus propias familias.

La tarea universal de ser padres abarca no solo cubrir las necesidades físicas o fisiológicas sino tambien las necesidades emocionales de seguridad, de estabilidad y de afecto. Sin olvidar las necesidades sociales y las espirituales. .El cuidado de los padres debe ir encaminado no solo a satisfacer las necesidades de sus hijos, sino tambien a suplir sus capacidades inmaduras en formas distintas de acuerdo a cada etapa del proceso de desarrollo y crecimiento que esten atravesando. Más aún es deber de los padres el proveer a sus hijos las oportunidades necesarias para que puedan ir desarrollando sus capacidades cognitivas, emotivas y volitivas a l medida que ellos estan listos para hacerlo.

Para que sea funcional, efectiva, y sana la relacion entre los padres y los hijos necesita ir continuamente cambiando de acuerdo con las diferentes etapas que atraviesan los hijos en el desarrollo psico-social de sus personalidades.Por tanto, para que los padres puedan cumplir con las tareas y deberes inherentes a su responsabilidad de padres, necesitan no solo conocer sobre el desarrollo de sus hijos y las diferentes necesidades que ellos tienen en cada etapa sino, sobre todo, tener la capacidad empática que le permita adaptar sus formas de relacionarse con ellos a los diferentes momentos de sus procesos de desarrollo y crecimiento.

Para terminar, no olvidemos estos dos principios que no pueden faltar en una buena relación padres-hijos::

  • mientras crecemos, es decir, mientras nos movemos de una etapa a otra de nuestro desarrollo psico-social estamos continuamente buscando de forma inconsciente el equilibrio, el balance, entre nuestra busqueda de la autonomía y la sana interdependencia familiar y social. De ahi que, solo las familias con estructuras estables –pero flexibles-, pueden brindar las condiciones necesarias para que los hijos adquieran sus propias identidades sin perder su cohesion emocional con el nucleo familiar.
  • la calidad de las relaciones padres – hijos va a ser la influencia mas profunda y determinante del desarrollo emocional de estos. La vulnerabilidad a la frustración, el nivel de agresividad y de hostilidad, la ansiedad, el sentido de desamparo y de desesperanza, y la forma en que los hijos enfrenten las situaciones limites durante el resto de sus vidas va a depender de estas relaciones.

¿ EDUCACION DE PADRES PARA FAMILIAS HISPANAS? , 1

Muchas veces me he preguntado y me han preguntado si necesitan los padres hispanos recibir orientaciones especializadas para la educación de sus hijos. Hay quienes consideran que no es necesario porque la educación y crianza de los hijos es un don inherente a la condición humana. Otros plantean que es conveniente porque no es lo mismo educar a los hijos en los Estados Unidos que hacerlo en nuestros paises de origen. No falta quien dice que al no conocer el idioma del pais ni la cultura del pais los padres no se beneficiarian de este esfuerzo y no entenderían el por qué ni el qué de las orientaciones. Tambien hay quien piensa que haciendolo se correría el riesgo de que los padres perdieran la herencia cultural que ellos traen de sus países de origen y en lugar de contribuir a la formación de generaciones biculturales, ellos presionarían a sus hijos hacia un proceso de immersión cultural con pérdida de la identidad y de la cultural hispana.

Debido a la gran diferencia de criterios en el área he pensado que sería productivo que reflexionaramos juntos sobre este tema. Para empezar recordemos algunas de los conceptos inherentes a la definición de familia, y de la importancia de la misión que tienen los padres de educar y de socializar a sus hijos.

La familia es un sistema natural y social, con caracteristicas propias que ningun otro sistema social puede igualar ni sustituir. Cuando hablamos de sistema estamos implicando que todos los miembros de la familia estan en continua interacción y es esta interacción la que le da y la que mantiene la vida interna de la familia. Es esta interacción dinámica la que crea con el tiempo la cohesión emocional que es la caracteristica esencial de la familia como grupo social y natural. Este dinamismo interno es muy importante, porque ello implica que la familia no es una unidad fija, rigida, sino que evoluciona, que se acomoda, que crea nuevas respuestas a medida que sus miembros evolucionan y se mueven por las crisis esperadas de crecimiento individual y colectivo, pero tambien contribuye a que la familia cree nuevas respuestas para acomodarse a nuevas circumstancias y a retos no esperados.

Universalmente se he han asignado a la familia estas tareas:

  • La tarea de reemplazar las generaciones ancianas por generaciones nuevas por medio de la reproducción. Contrario a lo que muchas personas piensan, esta tarea no es solo biológica sino que es tambien psicologica y social. No es traer hijos al mundo como diriamos algunos hispanos sino que es contribuir a hacer nuevas personalidades que asuman sus papeles en la comunidad de forma responsable.
  • La tarea de contibuir a satisfacer las necesidades fisiológicas, psicológicas, sociales y espirituales de todos y de cada uno de sus miembros hasta que cada uno de ellos llegue a alcanzar la plenitud de su madurez y el pleno desarrollo de sus capacidades y habilidades como seres humanos.
  • La tarea de contribuir a la educación y a la socialización de todos y cada uno de sus miembros para que puedan vivir armonicamente dentro de la comunidad social en que les ha tocado vivir, siguiendo las pautas culturales y morales de la misma. Enseñanadoles y entrenandoles en como comunicarse, qué criterios usar para tomar decisiones y para entender la realidad. Es decir, socializar a los hijos, de acuerdo con la cultura del medio ambiente en que les ha tocado vivir.
  • La tarea de introducir a las nuevas generaciones a la sociedad en la que han nacido y van a vivir. Facilitarles su ingreso en la comunidad para que, de forma responsable, asuman sus tareas y papeles sociales de acuerdo a sus vocaciones, capacidades, y habilidades..

Para poder cumplir con estas tareas cada familia necesita estar en un cotinuo intercambio e interacción con su medio ambiente socio-economico-político y cultural. La familia necesita reproducir internamente los valores, habitos, costumbres y formas de actuar que existen en el medio ambiente social donde vive. Por eso se dice y se afirma categóricamente que la familia es la primera célula de la sociedad. Más aun, que la familia es una expression microscópica de la sociedad. De ahí que la familia socialmente articulada tiene un conjunto de normas a seguir, unas tareas definidas para cada miembro de la familia, una distribución del poder y de la toma de decisiones para el conjunto que es acorde con las tareas asignadas, formas específicamente culturales de comunicación, y formas específicamente culturales de negociar y de resolver problemas. Visto asi, la sociedad no es mas que una familia de familias todas unidas por los mismos lazos culturales, economicos, sociales.

Pero, la interacción entre la familia y su comunidad social, el intercambio entre ambas tiene que ser mutuo y reciproco para que sea efectivo. La familia no puede estar de espaldas a la comunidad social en que ha escogido vivir o en la que le ha tocado vivir. Tanto la familia como la comunidad social necesitan reconocerse y respetarse mutuamente. Solo cuando esto sucede la familia es capaz de proveer una articulación social para sus hijos. Es esta articulación social la que contribuye a la formación de la identidad de cada uno de los miembros de la familia y la que hace posible la continuidad histórica de cada familia en esa comunidad social, o en esa region, o en ese pais. Como vemos la familia es la mayor contribuyente a que seas quien eres.

Despues de analizar lo anterior, una pregunta logica es, ¿ cómo puede la familia immigrante hispana llevar acabo sus dos tareas universales ? ¿ Cómo puede introducir a los nuevos miembros jóvenes de la familia en el nuevo medio ambiente si no conoce el language, las reglas, las costumbres, las formas de actuar y de decidir que tiene la sociedad en la que vive ?

La migración entraña moverse de un medio ambiente socio-economico y cultural a otro. Hay valores universales que toda la humanidad comparte, pero cada region geografica del planeta tierra tiene tradiciones y formas de ser, de interpretar la realidad y de actuar que son específicamente culturales. La cultura de estas regiones se fue formando historicamente a medida que ess comunidades iban actuando para satisfacer sus diferentes necesidades econmicas y sociales.

P:or tanto cada grupo regional tiene una expresión cultural diferente…. Y cuando nos mudamos de una región a otra, nos traemos nuestra personalidades e identidades  formadas para responder a las caracteristicas geográficas, históricas y culturales específicas de ese lugar. Por eso, al principio de nuestra llegada al nuevo medio mabiente podemos funcionar en este nuevo lugar muy limitadamente, hasta que poco a poco vayamos aprendiendo cómo se vive y cómo se funciona en el nuevo lugar, y asi nos vamos  adaptando y creciendo con la acquisición de nuevos mecanismos de ajuste al nuevo lugar.

Y este reto que acompaña el proceso de migración no  espera a que tengamos ganas de asumirlo y de resolverlo,  o a que estemos en el humor para hacerlo o a que nos empiezen a caer bien las gentes del lugar a donde nos mudamos. Si tenemos hijos, aunque no estemos seguros de si vinimos para quedarnos, no podemos vivir de espaldas a la sociedad en la que nuestros hijos van a ir a la escuela, van a tener amigos y van a funcionar socialamente. No podemos ignorar nuestro medio ambiente social porque con el tenemos que interactuar para poder llevar a cabo nuestras tareas de padres.

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.

Ethnicity
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
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.

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(*)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 Definition, Scope, and Role of Parent (*)

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).

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(*) 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.

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).
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(*) 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.

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(*) 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.

Academic English Language Program

This specific initiative was designed to provide English as a Second Language classes to the Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Learners (LCDL) of an elementary school. Language and Cultural Diverse Learners are those students whose home languages are not English, whether they are immigrant or native born. Those students were placed in a Bilingual Education class. The ultimate goal of the Bilingual class was “to provide a comprehensive instruction in the content areas of the school curriculum”, while “the goal of the content-based language learning period was primarily, to master the English language” (Castro Feinberg, 2002, p.6).

Review of relevant literature on this topic highlights these two studies. Castro Feinberg (2002) noticed that over the past two decades researchers with professional standing in the field of language education have studied how long it takes to develop the more complex level of language proficiency needed for academic use have concluded that for students at the k-12 level, social and survival skills are not sufficient to enable English language learners to meet required standards in the content areas (p. 10). Its consequences are described by Macias (1998) who reviewed different state educational reports to conclude that Limited English Proficiency students are more prone to be retaineed, dropped of school, and score below state norms in math, science and social studies.

Objective of the Program

The overall goal of this initiative is the development of “academic English language” (Cummins, 1981) necessary to achieve competence to support learning in both regular bilingual and later monolingual English classes. During the first phase of this initiative, the principal goal was English language acquisition by providing formal instruction in English language skills, with emphasis on developing the writing skills, for two consecutive periods five days of the week.

The National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (BSPTS) refers to the overall objective of this program as “th as e development of English as a New Language”.

Program:

  • Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Learners wwew tested at the beginning of the school year with the district-wide selected instrument which determines not only language dominance but also the oral, writing and reading levels of English Language Proficiency -non, limited, competent. Those students who do not reach the limited level in the test received comprehensive input in English through English as a Second Language classes for two consecutive learning periods five days a week.
  • While Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Learners were receiving English as a Second Language classes their bilingual peers placed in the bilingual classes were receiving two consecutive periods in Communications.
  • Both, Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Learners and bilingual students eeceived together a third period of communications every day, five days a week. This period of Communications was taught in English following the principles of “Sheltered Instruction”. Sheltered Instruction communicates meaning by presenting concepts in contextually rich environments; for example, with pictures, graphs, charts, maps, and models. Hands-on activities and cooperative learning (in-class projects in which students discuss the content while they work with it) augmented the impact of visual aids on the development of higher-order thinking skills and study strategies. It is, this third period provided content-area instructions, at grade level, that students who had not yet mastered English can understand and use to promote their English language development.
  • Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Learners as well as bilingual students received the rest of the academic subjects following the accepted routine of the bilingual setting: (a) by teaching in English and translating into Spanish only when it is needed, and/or (b) by providing instruction parallel to facilitate the transfer of concepts learned in the home-language and supporting and promoting the commands acquired in the English as a Second Language classes.
  • These Linguisticallt and Culturally Diverse Learners faced formidable obstacles to learn the content material, at grade level, while also learning English. Consequently, the principles of Sheltered Instruction discussed previously were applied always again and again.
  • In English as a Second Language classes, the English language was the object and the means of instruction. The English as a Second Language Standards for Pre-K-12 students emphasize the foundational function of language as a tool by which other subjects are acquired. The English as a Second Language standards are organized around these three goals: using English to communicate in social settings; using English to achieve academically in all content areas; and using English in culturally appropriate ways (TESOL, 2001). The English as a Second Language curriculum included the skills involved in English language acquisition for academic purposes: listening, speaking, reading and writing. This Program emphasized learning materials and experiences organized around the structure of language, or grammar.
  • Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Learners received one weekly 37 minutes class of Spanish as part of the Whole Language Program. Their participation in this home-language course was based on evidences from research which emphasized that high literacy achievement in the home-language is associated with high achievement in second-language learning.
  • The achievement in English as a Second Language of every Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Learners placed in the Academic English Language Program was measured at the end of every marking period using the Bilingual Verbal Abilities Tests (BVAT), created by Ana F. Muñoz Sandoval, Jim Cummins, Griselda G. Alvarado, and Mary L. Ruef and published by Riverside Publishing.

Exit from the Program:

Limited review of literature in the area of Second Language acquisition determined that the development of academic language requires from four to seven years of instruction. For example, Cummins’ research (1981) with immigrant second-language learners in Canada concluded that it takes from five to seven years or more for these students to reach grade-level norms; Collier’s (1987) analysis of the tests scores of English-Language learners led to the conclusion that four to eight years of study are needed. Thomas and Collier (1997) of the Center for Research in Education, Diversity & Excellence found that the amount of instructional time needed to become sufficiently proficient for academic purposes is from four to seven years (CREDE, 1998). Finally, Hakuta, Butler, and Witt (2000) reported that it takes from four to seven years to develop the ability to use language that is needed for long-term success in school.

An important factor to consider is not only the in-school efforts but also the our-of school support for English Language acquisition. In that regard, Marquez (2000) noticed how the recent immigrants to the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan area remain closely connected with different ethnic clubs, ethnic churches, social committees, or ethnic organizations that work together to maintain Spanish language and ethnic traditions. In all the five towns where the sample for the qualitative study was taken, more than half or its inhabitants were Hispanics and Spanish was part of the daily living of the community-hospitals, banks, stores, travel agencies, mass media, etc. Two of the five mayors were Hispanics, and in the five towns there was at least one city councilman who was Hispanic. In addition, the responses obtained in this study revealed that other social institutions such as bodegas, beauty-parlors, newspapers, radio stations, theaters, churches, schools, and other ethnic organizations in general continually provide parents with a Hispanic cultural framework of values and and behaviors socially accepted by both Anglo-Americans and Hispanics This sample and findings also illustrate what was happening in the district where this program was developed, and probably can be found in different educational districts throughout the United States.

At the end of the academic course, all the Linguistically and culturally Diverse Learners were evaluated using the same Proficient instrument used at the beginning of the academic course. Only those students who reached the competence level on this instrument exited the Academic English Language Program.

Psycho-educational intervention for both Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Learners and their parents:

The psycho-educational part of this intervention was directed to the informal discussion of the history and culture of their own ethnic group and of the history and culture of the United States. The purpose of this informal discussion was to contribute to the development of students; sense of bi-cultural pride as well as their bi-cultural sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Using the home culture as a reference point for teaching the culture of the United States also “applies the pedagogical principle of using what the students know as a means to aid new learning” (CastroFeinberg, 2002, p. 18).

In addition these students attended eigth group sessions of “culturally sensitive” counseling. During these sessions students got amiliarize with cultural differences and their impact on their learning and behavioral difficulties, a positive by-product of these interventions was the improvement of students’ assertive behaviors.

In addition, the parents were invited to attend four group sessions. The first session provided opportunities to discuss., clarify, vent and alleviate the psycho-socio-cultural stresses associated with immigration and acculturation in order to improve their socio-emotional adjustment and the quality of life at home (Clark, 1983).

The next three sessions provided culturally sensitive parent enrichment programs on child rearing practices, negotiation and decision making skills, cultural values differences, and child cognitive development.

Program evaluation

The Academic Language Program was evaluated during the last month of the academic year using the comparison of scores obtained by each one of the students at the end of the every marking period.

A second instrument selected to measure students progress was the Bilingual Verbal Abilities Tests (BVAT) created by Ana F. Muñoz Sandoval, Jim Cummins, Griselda G. Alvarado, and Mar L. Ruef and published by Riverside Publishing. This instrument is intended for measuring bilingual verbal ability, or the unique combination of cognitive/academic language abilities possessed by bilingual individuals in English and in another language. This test was selected based in the fact that bilingual students know some things in one language, some things in another language, and some things in both languages. Traditional procedures only allow the student’s language ability to be measured in one language, usually the one considered to be dominant.

References

Castro-Feinberg, R. 2002. Bilingual Education: a reference handbook. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc.

Center for Research on Excellence and Diversity in Education (CREDE). 1998. Findings on the effectiveness of bilingual education. Talking Leaves 2,No. 3, (Summer).

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

Collier, V. (1987). Age and rate of acquisition of second language for academic purposes. TESOL Quarterly, 21, No. 4, December.

Cummins, J. 1981. Age on arrival and immigrant secobnd language learning in Canada. A reassessment. Applied Linguistics, 11, No. 2.

Hakuta, K., Y. Butler, and D. Witt, January 2000. How long does it take English learners to attain proficiency? Polocy Report 2001, University of California Linguistic Minority Research Institute (Online). Available: http://www.stanford.edu/-hakuta/Docs/How Long.pdf

Macias, R. 1998. Summary report of the survey of the states’ limited English proficient students and available educational programs and services 1996-1997. The SEA Report. Washington, DC: Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education.

Marquez, G. 2000. Qualitative Study of the Acculturative Process followed by Immigrant Hispanic Families. Doctoral Dissertation. Fordham University. Unpublished.

Teachers of English to Speakers of other Language, Inc. (TESOL). 2001. The ESL standards for pre-K-12 students: Table of Contents. Alexandria, VA: Author. (Online) http://www.tesol.org/assoc/k12standards/it/01.html.

Thomas, W. & V. Collier, 1997. School effectiveness for language minority students. NCBE Resource Collections Series, No. 9. Washington, D.C. National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education. (Online). http://www.ncbe.gwu.edu/ncbepubs/resource/effectiveness/index.html

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).

Acculturation
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.

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(*) 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.

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

Hispanic Cultural Patterns (*)

Bernal, Knight, Ocampo, Garza, and Cota (cited by Casas and Pytluk, 1995), stated that based on a small but growing body of literature, the nature and degree of Hispanic ethnic identity play a very important part in the way Hispanics manifest their ethnic culture on a daily basis. Marin and Marin (1991) summarized evidence about Hispanics from a variety of sources and proposed that they are characterized by high levels of interdependence, conformity, and a readiness to sacrifice for the welfare of in-group members. Individual self-assertion, competitiveness, and aggressiveness are discouraged.

Similarly, honesty, respect, and the individual’s sense of honor are grounded in the concept of dignity (dignidad) which means inner worth. Personal dignity is not equated with achievement or success, but with the individual’s self-respect which originates from accepting one’s role in life and fulfilling that role to the best of one’s capacity. Hispanics are said to give importance to personal ties (personalismo) by avoiding conflict in interpersonal situations; consequently their social behaviors promote smooth and pleasant social situations (simpatía) so they can maintain their own personal respect (respeto). Hispanic children are taught to respect authority, whether familial or institutional.

Hispanics are people of faith–they have a strong belief in the existence of a higher being and the need to follow prescribed formal practices to worship this being. However, their religiosity exhibited marked features of cultural fatalism (form of existentialism expressed in a tendency to take life as it comes with a “resigned” mind set), as well as external focus of control (luck, supernatural powers, God). Religious leaders are viewed as substitute parents; therefore, they must be respected and obeyed.

However, since Hispanic culture is an aggregate of distinct subcultures, these descriptors are not equally shared by all Hispanic groups and/or by individuals in these groups. Furthermore, because of their dispersion and mixing with both mainstream American culture and with other ethnic groups in the United States, Hispanic ethnic culture is not a discrete entity but rather part of a diverse cultural mix (Szapocznik & Kurtines, 1993). Thus, due to this heterogeneity, cultural blending, and cultural change, it is not clear whether particular individuals or samples actually reflect the culture they are thought to represent.

Preeminence of the Family
The discussion of family is particularly important in Hispanic culture.

The importance of the centrality of family in terms of feelings of loyalty, reciprocity, and familism for Hispanics has been documented as a distinct and enduring characteristic among Mexicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, and Central and South Americans. (J. M. Rodriguez & Kosloski, 1998, p. 376). Family orientation or familism encompasses such things as feelings of mutual obligation, reciprocity, and solidarity toward one’s family members.

Literature and cultural traditions show that the family has always been the heart and soul for Hispanics, the primary social security system, caring for its members from birth to death. External interference in this process is still viewed as crippling the family’s honra (honor).

The individual is primarily responsible to the immediate and extended family network, which has established clearly defined roles and expectations for all members. Children are precious and to be enjoyed. Elders are respected and to be obeyed. Family hierarchy delineates the status of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews, in-laws, etc. Reliance and compliance with family roles and goals have fostered the image of docile, dependent Hispanic women. The compadrazco system includes comrades y compadres who may or may not be blood relations. Compadres earn their position in the family through friendship, godparenting at the baptism or confirmation, or by being a best man or maid of honor in a wedding.

The family network demands an ardent sense of commitment to the family and an intense obligation and responsibility to the family network (Garcia-Preto, 1982; Rogler & Cooney, 1984), especially by feeling solidarity with those who have problems or bad times and even by fulfilling for them their family duties and obligations. Parental or compadrazco disapproval should be sufficient to promote behavioral changes in offspring. The opinions of others and vergüenza (shame) are the best forms of social control. The rewards of belonging to the family group are manifested through warmth, gregariousness, affection, generosity, expressiveness, intimacy, hospitality, support, and cooperation. In sum, Hispanic family kinship is the basic relationship and the primary socialization agent, especially for teaching obedience and discipline.

Research on familism values among Hispanics after migration and in relationship with the process of acculturation presents contrasting results. Vega (1990) did a selective review of literature covering the period of 1980 until early 1990, and concluded: (a) there is a tendency to participate in relatively large kin networks and to engage in high rates of visiting and exchange; (b) although there is a consensus regarding the family as the dominant source of advice and help in all generations, differences were found on the topic of the family as the resource for dealing with problems; and (c) non-Hispanics migrate away from kin networks while Hispanics migrate toward them. Relationships between expressed values and actual behaviors cannot be precisely understood without taking heed of how interpersonal transactions occur in the process of daily living. Some familial interactions may be instrumental, others may be symbolic, while others may be inescapable. (p. 1019).

Marin (1993) and Sabogal, Marin, and Otero-Sabogal (1987) have identified three dimensions on familism, as follows: (a) familial obligations, that is, the perceived obligations, to provide material and emotional support to the members of the extended family; (b) support from family, which is the perceived support from relatives to solve problems; and (c) family as referents, which is the perception of relatives as behavioral and attitudinal references. Their empirical findings indicated that Hispanics, which includes Mexican, Cubans, and Central Americans, scored significantly higher than did non-Hispanic Whites on all three dimensions of familism. J. M. Rodriguez and Kosloski (1998) examined the relationship between acculturation and familism in a sample of 182 Hispanics of Puerto Rican descent. For two dimensions of familism (familial obligations and support from relatives), acculturation was positively related to familism; for the other dimension (family referents), the relationship was nonsignificant.

Finally, Negy and Woods (1992a) observed that findings are not uniform, and additional research is necessary to clarify these complex issues.
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This article is part of the Chapter II, of the Qualitative Study of the Acculturative Process of Immigran Hispanic Families, Doctoral Dissertation of the author.