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Cultural Values, Family Functioning, and Ethnic Identification Among Latino Children

Fri, March 22, 7:45 to 9:15am, Baltimore Convention Center, Floor: Level 1, Exhibit Hall B

Integrative Statement

Parents instill values in their children early on in childhood. Children of immigrants are in a unique situation as they are taught one set of values based on their ethnic background, but also adopt values from mainstream society (Fuligni, 2001; Knight et al., 2010). Exposure and endorsement of ethnic values in children of immigrants have been associated with higher levels of ethnic identity exploration in later adolescence, which can lead to higher levels of ethnic identification (Knight, Carlo, Streit, & White, 2017; Knight et al., 2010; Umaña-Taylor, Yazedjian, & Bámaca-Gómez, 2004). The method in which parents impart their own values and beliefs—through cohesion and communication—to their children also has an influence on identity development (Hughes, Hagelskamp, Way, & Foust, 2009; Leidy, Guerra, & Toro, 2012; Schwartz, 2001; Sokol, 2009). Communication and bonding, rather than conflict, will draw parents and adolescents closer together (Dumka, Roosa, & Jackson, 1997), positively influence ethnic identification in adolescents, and, in turn, lead to positive socioemotional outcomes (Hughes et al., 2009; Phinney, 1990; Telzer et al., 2016). Previous research has examined family functioning in association with ethnic identification, but has not operationalized it as an explanatory mechanism in the relationship between Latino values and ethnic identification. As such, this study explores the role that family communication and cohesion play between Latino values (i.e., familism and respect) and ethnic identification (i.e., exploration, affirmation, resolution, and overall ethnic identity). The participants (N = 296, 61% female, M age =14, SD = .55) were immigrant Latino high school students that had at least one foreign-born parent. Participants completed scales examining ethnic identity (Umaña-Taylor, 2004), Latino values (Knight et al., 2010), and family communication and cohesion (Olson, 2008). First it was hypothesized that adherence to Latino values would be positively associated with ethnic identification. Next, it was anticipated that family functioning would differentially mediate this relationship. Specifically, family communication would have a greater mediating effect than cohesion. Correlational analyses indicate that familism and respect are significantly and positively correlated to ethnic identity exploration, resolution, and overall ethnic identification, but not affirmation (see Table 1). Findings from logistic regression analyses suggest that effective communication mediated the relationship between familism and ethnic identity resolution and overall ethnic identification, while mediating the relationship between respect and ethnic identity exploration, resolution and overall ethnic identification (see Table 2). Family cohesion, on the other hand, only mediated the relationship between respect and overall ethnic identification. Neither family cohesion nor communication mediated the relationship between the values of familism and respect and ethnic identity affirmation. These findings demonstrate the nuanced impact of positive family functioning. Specifically, results indicate that although a close emotional bond is important, effective communication within an immigrant family unit plays a stronger role in the ethnic identification of children of immigrants.


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