Antecedents of Adolescents’ Coping Strategies in Immigrant Families in Los Angeles

Ian B. Nahmias, Scott W. Plunkett*, California State University, Northridge

Full manuscript: www.kon.org/urc/v9/nahmias.html

Abstract Immigrant adolescents use coping strategies to deal with acculturative and personal stress. Yet, little is known about where these coping strategies emerge. The purpose of this study was to identify whether perceived parental behaviors and neighborhood qualities related to the coping strategies used by adolescents from immigrant families. Self-report data were collected from 729 adolescents from immigrant families in one Los Angeles school. Multiple regressions indicated (a) girls reported higher family support and social support in coping than boys; (b) parental warmth was significantly and positively related to family support and social support, while negatively related to ventilating feelings and substance use coping; (c) parental harshness was positively related to social support, ventilating feelings, and substance use coping; and (d) neighborhood stressors were related to higher ventilating feelings and substance use coping.

A common experience of immigration is the excessive levels of stress encountered by most individuals and families before, during, and after their relocation (Organista, & Kurasaki, 2003; Siantz, 1997; Water, 1997). Individual responses to stress can manifest in physiological, emotional, and behavioral reactions (Thompson & Calkin, 1996). Consequently, adolescents may cope with stressors in various ways. Many factors play a role in why coping in immigrant families holds so much importance. Acculturation and adaptation are two key roles in a majority of immigrant families (Sabatier & Berry, 2008). Beliefs, values, and strategies that countless immigrant families and individuals respect in their homelands vary significantly from that of U.S. commonalities. One out of five individuals is from an immigrant family (Elmelech, McCaskie, Lennon, & Lu, 2002; Morse, 2005), and how these youth cope determines their future well-being and success. Given the importance of coping, it is crucial to identify the antecedents of coping. Hence, the purpose of this study is to identify whether perceived parental behaviors and neighborhood qualities relate to the coping strategies used by adolescents from immigrant families.

Read the full manuscript: www.kon.org/urc/v9/nahmias.html