immigrant parents/adolescents, language barriers, parental authority, acculturation, inter-generational relations


In the United States, immigrant families are one of the fastest growing and most diverse segments of the population (Zhou,1997). Researchers have studied many facets of the immigration process that these families go through, such as acculturation gaps (Weisskirch & Alva, 2002), ethnic identity (Hurtado & Gurin, 1987), youth violence (Boutakidis, Guerra, & Soriano, 2006), and parenting styles (Nguyen, 2008). One construct that surfaces often in these studies is immigrant parental authority; some researchers hypothesize that the immigration experience could shift the authority structure in immigrant homes. The purpose of this literature review is to examine language barriers between immigrant parents and children as a possible cause of this authority shift and to synthesize how that shift is manifest in intellectual, social, and ethnic identity. The review focuses first on the perspective of immigrant parents, second on the perspective of their adolescent children, and concludes that language barriers have a powerful influence on parental authority from both perspectives.

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