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01-01-2015 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 1/2015

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 1/2015

Two Sides of a Story: Mothers’ and Adolescents’ Agreement on Child Disclosure in Immigrant and Native Families

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 1/2015
Peter F. Titzmann, Burkhard Gniewosz, Andrea Michel


Research on immigrant families often has suggested that the process of immigration can lead to a distancing of adolescents and their parents. This study examined the actual agreement of immigrant and native mother–adolescent dyads in their reports on children’s disclosure as an indicator for a trusting mother–child relationship. The research questions related to group-level differences (immigrant vs. native dyads) in mother–adolescent agreement, the prediction of interdyadic differences in mother–adolescent agreement, and the associations between mother–adolescent agreement and both family conflicts and adolescents’ depressive symptoms. The sample was comprised of mother–adolescent dyads: 197 native German dyads (adolescents: mean age 14.7 years, 53 % female) and 185 immigrant dyads from the former Soviet Union (adolescents: mean age 15.7 years, 60 % female). Agreement was assessed using the intraclass correlation coefficient. The results revealed that mother–adolescent agreement was lower in immigrant dyads than in native dyads. In both samples, higher levels of adolescent autonomy predicted lower mother–adolescent agreement. Among immigrants, language brokering was an additional predictor of lower levels of mother–adolescent agreement. The interaction of language brokering and autonomy also turned out to be significant, indicating that if an adolescent was high in language brokering or autonomy, the effect of the other variable was negligible. In both groups, mother–adolescent agreement was negatively related to family conflicts. The study shows that processes in immigrant and native families are rather similar, but that in immigrant families some additional acculturation-related factors have to be considered for a full understanding of family dynamics.

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