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5 pages in APA format the contains a review of the article provided, “Parenting Across Two Worlds: Low Income Latina Immigrants’ Adaptation to Motherhood in the United States.” answering the questions within the Qualitative article review questionnaire document that is provided. It must contain all of the sections specified in the qualitative review questionnaire document. Title page and reference page do not count in the number of pages.AbstractIntroductionMethodsSampleResultsDiscussionTwo references that must be used:Vesely, C. K., Letiecq, B. L., & Goodman, R. D. (2019). Parenting Across Two Worlds: Low-Income Latina Immigrants’ Adaptation to Motherhood in the United States. Journal of Family Issues, 40(6), 711-738.Yegidis, B. L., Weinbach, R. W., & Myers, L. L. (2018). Research methods for social workers (8th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.
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research-article2018
JFIXXX10.1177/0192513X18821398Journal of Family IssuesVesely et al.
Article
Parenting Across Two
Worlds: Low-Income
Latina Immigrants’
Adaptation to
Motherhood in the
United States
Journal of Family Issues
2019, Vol. 40(6) 711­–738
© The Author(s) 2018
Article reuse guidelines:
sagepub.com/journals-permissions
https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X18821398
DOI: 10.1177/0192513X18821398
journals.sagepub.com/home/jfi
Colleen K. Vesely1, Bethany L. Letiecq1,
and Rachael D. Goodman1
Abstract
This study explored how low-income documented and undocumented
Latina immigrant mothers negotiate motherhood and adapt to life in new
cultural and structural contexts. Grounded in ecocultural theory, we
analyzed data from 21 in-depth interviews with Latina immigrant mothers
to surface how their experiences of motherhood in the United States
were shaped by their country of origin experiences and their situatedness
in the United States. We documented emergent tensions related to
their immigration context, often driven by changes in their legal status
as they crossed borders, changes in family and community supports, and
differing cultural expectations of their gendered roles as caregivers and
family members. These tensions forced mothers to renegotiate and adjust
their perceptions, identities, and roles as women, mothers, partners, and
members of larger, often transnational kin and community networks.
Implications of these tensions and identity and role shifts in the context
of immigrant family life in the United States are discussed.
1George
Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA
Corresponding Author:
Colleen K. Vesely, College of Education and Human Development, George Mason University,
2014 West Building, MSN 4C2, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA.
Email: cvesely@gmu.edu
712
Journal of Family Issues 40(6)
Keywords
mothering, motherhood, Latina immigrants, qualitative, family processes
Low-income Latina immigrant mothers in the United States—and especially those who are undocumented—must adapt to life in a new country
while confronting poverty, low-wage work, limited financial resources,
language barriers, cross-national and cultural differences, unsafe neighborhoods, and, increasingly, nativist, anti-immigrant hostilities that threaten
deportation and family separation (Vesely, Letiecq, & Goodman, 2017;
Cardoso, Scott, Faulkner, & Lane, 2018; Pew Research Center, 2015).
Latina immigrant adaptation to parenthood in the United States is also
influenced by their diverse country of origin experiences and histories,
their immigration journeys (which for some, can be dangerous, violence
exposing, and traumatic), and the cultural and contextual tensions that
emerge as families make a life here. Often, low-income and immigrant
mothers in the United States are positioned as deficient or lacking resilience and grit as compared with their middle- and upper-class counterparts
(Verduzco-Baker, 2015). However, such deficit perspectives likely ignore
immigrant mothers’ “social-made” macrocontextual challenges created by
immigration laws and policies that structure (and limit) their opportunities
and can stymie family adaptation and well-being (Helms, Supple, & Proulx,
2011). Deficit perspectives also ignore immigrant mothers’ strengths and
unique ways of adjusting and persisting despite difficult circumstances.
Immigrant families come to the United States carrying their diverse traditions, cultural attitudes and beliefs, ways of knowing, and family hopes and
aspirations (Baca Zinn & Wells, 2008). Latino immigrant families likely
adhere to certain cultural attitudes and beliefs that relate to and support their
mental health, parenting, and family interactions, such as familism (Pollard,
Nievar, Nathans, & Riggs, 2014). Familism encourages feelings of loyalty,
reciprocity, and solidarity within families and emphasizes the importance of
maintenance of family ties (Marano & Roman, 2017). Latino families may
also embody a more collectivistic orientation than European American families, where dependence and interdependence are encouraged more than independence and a pull-yourself-up-from-your-bootstraps ethos (Bradley,
Corwyn, & Whiteside-Mansell, 1996). These orientations and cultural attitudes and beliefs likely inform immigrant mothers’ perceptions of motherhood as well as their adjustment and adaptation to life in the United States.
However, cultural expectations (emanating from both their country of origin
and from U.S. culture) may also conflict with immigrant mothers’ situatedness and opportunity structure in the United States (Helms et al., 2011),
Vesely et al.
713
exposing immigrant mothers to unique individual, familial, and contextual
tensions or ambivalences as they negotiate parenthood.
These tensions, born out of the intersecting worlds, cultural milieu, and
social structural realities, may force immigrant mothers to adjust their cultural
attitudes and beliefs and shift their identities and roles to accord with life in the
United States. Tensions may also arise between those identities and roles an
individual chooses for themselves (i.e., selected identities) and those identities
and roles placed on an individual by society (Collins, 1994), recognizing that
immigrants—and particularly undocumented immigrant mothers—are not
empowered to choose all their identities and the roles they perform in a given
society (Romero, 2008). These tensions and resultant shifts may create opportunities for growth and resilience building, but may also frustrate, challenge,
and thwart individual and familial adjustment and well-being.
Grounded in ecocultural theory (Weisner, 1997), in this study, we explore
the situatedness of low-income Latina immigrant mothers and how their
experiences of motherhood in the United States are shaped by emergent cultural and contextual tensions related to immigration. We pay particular attention to the ways in which documented and undocumented Latina immigrant
mothers negotiate the tensions and shift their perceptions, roles, and identities as they adapt to and navigate a challenging and often stressful context on
the margins of society. Understanding immigrant motherhood in context is
critical to both dispel myths and negative appraisals of vulnerable families
and to inform service providers and policy makers as they seek to engage
with and promote the well-being of immigrant families. Such research is likewise needed as we work to become more attuned to the unique contextual and
cultural realities and situatedness of immigrant families and align services to
best support their adaptation.
Low-Income Latina Immigrant Mothering in Context: An
Ecocultural Framework
From an ecocultural perspective, mothering is a reflection of the values and
expectations of individual mothers, which are informed by cultural norms,
individual/familial experiences, and the social structures that facilitate and
hinder mothers’ choices. Mothering contexts, according to Weisner (1997),
include interactions with macro-level institutions and structures of power that
contribute to individuals’ development and their resilience to overcoming
adversity and systemic oppression. Within their daily routines, mothers
ascribe meaning to various situations based on cultural beliefs. As such,
beliefs that are most culturally meaningful shape individuals’ developmental
experiences and parenting behaviors (Weisner, 2002).
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Journal of Family Issues 40(6)
Understanding the juxtaposition of mothers’ parenting processes within
larger social systems, Weisner (1997) and others (e.g., Harkness & Super,
2006; Helms et al., 2011; Huston, 2000) have called for ecocultural research
related to children and families’ development that focuses on multiple levels
or ecologies. When considering Latina immigrant mothering, ecocultural
research should include the study of (a) the beliefs, values, and ideas held by
immigrant mothers that are influenced by macro-forces (e.g., immigration
laws and socioeconomic conditions) and their cultural milieu and (b) the
micro-level processes that occur within the context of families’ everyday
lives (Cardoso et al., 2018). Using an ecocultural framework, mothering must
be understood at the intersections of family and societal institutions, with a
keen focus on how social structural forces facilitate, regulate, and challenge
mothers’ opportunities to actualize their beliefs and values as they negotiate
and adjust to parenthood in the United States.
Parenting Across Two Worlds: Cultural Models of Motherhood. Consonant with an
ecocultural framework, there are a number of cultural models and ethnotheories that likely influence and inform low-income Latina immigrant mothers’
ideas of mothering. Ethnotheories refer to “[s]hared understandings that
frame experience, supplying interpretations of that experience and inferences
about it, and goals for action” (Quinn & Holland, 1987, p. 6). Thus, parental
ethnotheories are shared understandings and beliefs specific to children, parenting, and families that guide parents as they raise their children (Harkness
& Super, 2006). Tamis-LeMonda et al. (2008) asserted that immigrants’
parental ethnotheories may be composed of beliefs from both one’s culture of
origin and from the United States.
Rooted in their country of origin experiences and values, Latinas may
reference a range of cultural beliefs evident in family and other interpersonal
relationships, including respeto, or deference based on hierarchical differences related to age, gender, and social class (Marano & Roman, 2017).
Familismo, as aforementioned, denotes the collectivistic notion that the family is of paramount importance. Also likely influencing their parental ethnotheories are the gender role expectations referred to as machismo and
marianismo that encourage self-sacrifice among women and empower men
in the family hierarchy (Marano & Roman, 2017). While Latina immigrants
from Mexico and Central and South America are not a homogenous group,
these commonly shared cultural beliefs provide insight into the constructions
from which Latinas’ may develop ideas of mothering, despite within group
differences (e.g., country of origin, immigration histories, legal, and relational statuses). These cultural scripts informing Latina immigrant mothering
may be further “structured” or embodied in the U.S. context by mothers’
Vesely et al.
715
limited opportunities in the U.S. labor market, given their immigration pathways to the United States and their educational backgrounds, language proficiencies, socioeconomic status, and availability of affordable, high-quality
child care options (Vesely, Goodman, Ewaida, & Kearney, 2014; Vesely,
Letiecq, & Goodman, 2017).
In the United States, Latina immigrant mothers are also exposed to the
dominant constructions of mothering rooted in a White, European American
middle-class cultural belief system, which emphasizes intensive mothering
(Arendell, 2000; Christopher, 2012; Garey, 1999; Hays, 1996). Intensive
mothering ideology reflects ideas that child rearing should be “childcentered, expert-guided, emotionally absorbing, labor-intensive, and financially expensive” and that this rearing should be carried out by the mother as
the child’s “central caregiver” (Hays, 1996, p. 8) within a “Standard North
American Family” configuration that operates independent of extended kin
and community systems (Smith, 1993). Today, U.S. mothering is also influenced by a growing ethos of egalitarianism, where family and work responsibilities are expected to be shared equally regardless of one’s gender (Pessin,
2018). In addition to this focus on White European American mothers within
much of the literature, there is some research that provides important portraits
of racially and ethnically diverse mothers. Collins (1994) asserts the importance of examining mothering among women of color in the appropriate
sociocultural context. Motherwork reflects how the concerns of mothers of
color center on their children’s physical survival, empowerment of themselves
and their children, and reflect resilience by maintaining their families’ cultural
identity even in the face of pervasive structural racism in the dominant culture
(Collins, 1994). More recent activist scholarship work among Latina mothers
reflects ideas of resilience and motherwork focusing on issues of community
survival, empowerment, and the construction of new narratives of self by
using racial and social identities for political strategy to address the barriers to
achievement for children of color (Fuentes, 2013). As Latina immigrant mothers adjust and adapt to life in a new country, U.S. cultural models of parenthood, likely intersect with models derived from their country of origin
experiences, influencing mothers’ ideas of parenting and potentially creating
tensions across culture and context that mothers must negotiate.
We know little about the ways in which Latina immigrant mothers from
nondominant cultures interact with and experience culturally dominant ideologies (and structures) at the intersections of their race, ethnicity, family
structure, socioeconomic status, legal status, and as immigrants in the U.S.
Latina immigrant mothers must negotiate the cultural constructions of
mothering valued in the United States while positioned in a racialized and
marginalized socioeconomic context where new identities and expectations
716
Journal of Family Issues 40(6)
are placed on them not only as a mother but also as an immigrant, a woman,
and an ethnic minority. Low-income Latina immigrant mothers must make
sense of new cultural expectations, while also managing nativistic hostilities espoused by those harboring anti-immigrant beliefs in the United States
(Campbell, 2016). Given low-income Latina immigrants’ marginalized
position in the United States, and the vulnerabilities exacerbated by illegality, immigrant mothers face unique challenges and concerns (e.g., poverty,
threats of deportation and family separation, and family reunification) that
may impede their adoption of and engagement in intensive or other desired
forms of mothering. On the other hand, limited economic opportunities and
traditional familial roles may promote and bolster an intensive mothering
that is experienced and negotiated differently among these women, sans the
intergenerational and community supports relied on back home.
Micro-Level Family Processes and Maternal Immigrant Adaptation. As immigrant mothers settle in the United States and confront these cultural and
contextual tensions as a function of emergent immigrant parental ethnotheories, their familial processes likely undergo multilayered cultural
adaptations or shifts (Baca Zinn & Wells, 2008). These shifts can occur at
the individual level, as a parent, as a spouse or partner, across kinship and
community systems both in the United States and back home, and as a
worker within the U.S. labor market (Cowan & Cowan, 1995, 2000). For
Latina immigrants in particular,
the experiences of cultural adaptation during the early years of parenthood has
the potential to lead to . . . shifts in (a) values regarding marital and parenting
roles and responsibilities, (b) attitudes about parenting and gender equality in
marriage and child rearing, and (c) beliefs related to the importance of family.
(Helms et al., 2011, p. 76)
For example, some Latina immigrant mothers may prefer and aspire to actualize traditional gender roles within their families where mothers provide primary care for their children while relying on their husbands/partners for
economic provision. Men in family life, empowered by the cultural value of
machismo, may dictate expectations of women’s roles, and mothers may
accord to such expectations, placing their family and the collective (and a
desire for family harmony) above their individual desires. The collectivistic
orientation of Latino culture may also shape mothers’ expectations of intergenerational connectivity and kinship support, where women across generations expect to share child-rearing responsibilities and rely on each other for
their familial and collective well-being. However, research shows this
Vesely et al.
717
traditional split in gender roles is more reflective of transnational mothers,
who have children in their countries of origin (Dreby & Adkins, 2010;
Hondagneu-Sotelo & Avila, 1997).
Latina immigrant mothers may also experience increased (albeit limited)
economic opportunities in the United States and embrace a more individualistic sense of self. They may also desire changes in gender roles within their
family system, wanting their male partners to engage in more child care and
household production (Helms et al., 2011), especially as they experience
shifts away from intergenerational and more communal forms of child rearing. Yet immigrant mothers residing on the social, economic, and legal margins of society must also negotiate and navigate parenthood in the context of
deportation threat (Cardoso et al., 2018). In their study of immigrant parents
from Mexico, Cardoso et al. (2018) noted how mothers felt “trapped” by their
cultural context given the socioeconomic and legal challenges they were confronting. As trapped parents, mothers experienced limited freedom to parent
as they might like to in the United States, due to fear of detainment, deportation, and family separation.
Present Study
Despite the increasing number and diversity of Latino immigrant families
in the United States, we have limited understanding of the ways in which
Latina immigrant mothers integrate beliefs, negotiate motherhood, and
adapt to life in the U.S. Studies of undocumented Latina immigrant mothers and their adaptation and adjustment within the context of deportation
threat are even more scarce (Cardoso et al., 2018). Drawing on ecocultural
theory (Weisner, 2002), we posit that mothers’ ideals of parenthood are
likely driven by cultural constructions—from multiple cultural contexts—
and the social structural, macro forces that constrain, regulate, and limit
their opportunities in the United States. In this study, we explore how
immigrant mothers’ parental ethnotheories are instantiated in practice
given the pushes and pulls they experience as immigrants occupying multiple roles in family life and in society. Our study is guided by the following two research questions:
Research Question 1: How do low-income documented and undocumented Latina immigrant mothers make meaning of and experience cultural and contextual tensions related to their immigrant experience?
Research Question 2: How do these mothers negotiate, shift, and adapt to
motherhood in the United States given their situatedness, particularly
related to their legal status?
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Journal of Family Issues 40(6)
Method
A modified grounded theory approach was used for data collection and analyses. This approach, which is rooted in grounded theory, uses qualitative data
to build new theories of the population of interest. However, unlike traditional grounded theory methods, it uses and considers other theories and
research to inform the study (Cutcliffe, 2005; LaRossa, 2005). Moreover, this
qualitative approach is suited to build understandings of contexts and processes of families’ lives (Maxwell & Loomis, 2003). As such, this study was
informed by sensitizing concepts from ecocultural theory (i.e., interview
questions and initial code development). During data analyses new ideas
emerged, particularly in terms of tensions mothers negotiated as they adapted
to motherhood in the United States.
Participants
Mothers (N = 21) in this study migrated from various Latin American
countries (El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala. Argentina, and Ecuador) with
the majority being from El Salvador (n = 9) and Mexico (n = 7). On average, mothers lived in the United States …
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