The acculturation gap of parent–child relationships in immigrant families: A national study


Harris, Kathleen Mullan & Chen, Ping (2022). The acculturation gap of parent–child relationships in immigrant families: A national study. Family Relations. , PMCID: PMC10662673


We examined the acculturation processes involving intergenerational consonance and dissonance in parent–child relationships in U.S. immigrant families. Background This study is important because we lack national studies that examine the association between acculturation processes and intergenerational relationships among diverse racial/ethnic groups in immigrant families. Method Using national data from Add Health with diverse race/ethnicity, we measured acculturation levels by immigrant generation, age of arrival, and length of time. Intergenerational consonance (the degree to which children and parents share the same values and activities) was measured by family cohesion and sharing meals (specifically dinners) with parents. Intergenerational dissonance (the degree to which parents and children differ in expected norms and parents lose authority over their children) was measured by parent–child conflict and parental control. Ordinary least square, binary logistic, ordered logistic, and Poisson regressions were conducted depending on the nature of the four dependent variables. Results We found robust evidence that adolescents of the second immigrant generation acculturate more rapidly than those of the first generation and their immigrant parents creating a “gap” in intergenerational relationships. Thus, second-generation adolescents experience lower levels of family cohesion, less frequency of sharing weekly dinners with parents, less parental control of adolescents' activities, and more serious arguments about their behaviors with their parents than their first-generation counterparts. Conclusion This is the new evidence that is based on national data, across multiple measures of intergenerational relationships, and holds for diverse racial and ethnic groups. Implications The findings underscore the importance of developing culturally informed interventions supporting healthy parent–child relationships in immigrant families.




Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Family Relations


Harris, Kathleen Mullan
Chen, Ping

Year Published






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