Legal Status Effects on Parent-Child Relationships and Parent Well-Being

10:00 AM, Saturday 9 Nov 2019 (50 minutes)
Bayside A
Despite heightened levels of parenting stress and psychological distress experienced by many immigrant-origin families in the United States, little is known about the resiliency of Latinx families, particularly in today's political climate. This thesis presents the results of a pilot study examining the effects of legal stressors on parent-child relationships and parent well-being in Latinx immigrant families. This mixed-methods study included a sample of 30 adult parent participants with various legal statuses and migration experiences. Qualitatively, participants shared their experiences of legal vulnerability, fears or concerns of deportation, and coping mechanisms. Quantitatively, scores for parental stress, psychological distress, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and resilience were collected. Following a mixed-method, sequential explanatory design, quantitative data were analyzed for relationships among study variables. A case-oriented research comparative strategy was then used to qualitatively examine the migration and resiliency experiences of the two cases with lowest and highest levels of resilience. Results indicated that (1) parents identifying as undocumented experienced higher rates of parental stress and psychological distress compared to their liminally legal and documented peers, and (2) although the trauma experienced by many immigrant-origin parents in the study was markedly high, resilience was fostered and expressed. Implications for comprehensive, detailed, and longitudinal future research are discussed.
Suffolk University

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