“Intergenerational Relationships among Latino Immigrant Families in Spain: Conflict and Emotional Intimacy”
*Co-sponsored with The Center for the Study of International Migration
Abstract: Relationships with parents have been identified as a major factor in shaping adolescents’ well-being and cognitive development. Compared to adolescents in native families, immigrant children face multiple stressors associated with international migration that may cause the relationship with their parents to be more conflictive or emotionally distant. In this paper, we compare the levels of mother-child conflict and emotional intimacy among Latino immigrant and Spanish native families living in Spain. Our analysis shows that Latino adolescents do not describe the relationship with their mothers as more conflictive than natives do. However, they report more emotional distance with their mothers than native adolescents. This differential with natives cannot be fully attributed to migration-related factors like physical separation from parents due to staggered family migration, to the lower life satisfaction of Latino mothers’ in their new destination or to an acculturation gap between mother and child. However, the fact that immigrant mothers spend less time doing activities with their children, probably due to their harder working conditions, explains part of the differential in emotional intimacy with native families. Finally, our analyses clearly establish an equally negative relationship between conflict and emotional intimacy for both native and Latino immigrant families.