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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: June 2012

13 - Immigrant Parents' Age Expectations for the Development of Their Adolescent Offspring: Transmission Effects and Changes after Immigration



Immigration often takes place from traditional developing countries into modern industrialized cultures and is related to a whole range of changes in the living conditions of an individual. The confrontation with an unfamiliar value system is one of the most important challenges in the life of an immigrant (Schmitt-Rodermund & Silbereisen, 2008). Whereas adolescents tend to adjust relatively quickly to such a situation – in part because of their higher competence in language acquisition – their parents sometimes have more trouble developing new perspectives and acquiring new skills (Feldman, Mont-Reynaud, & Rosenthal, 1992; Süss, 1995). Unemployment of the breadwinner may add to a situation of shifted roles within the family in favor of the adolescents (Hehl & Ponge, 1997). The goal of this chapter is to shed light on the process of adaptation for parents of immigrant adolescents. The target group of the study consists of ethnic Germans who arrive in what they deem their country of origin from states that were formerly known as the Eastern Bloc. However, their ancestors have lived in Russia, Poland, or Romania for many generations and, therefore, they can be considered true immigrants (Silbereisen & Schmitt-Rodermund, 2000). They have kept their in-group language of German and customs (e.g., the celebration of Christmas). This group is being studied to clarify issues related to value orientations, especially age expectations or timetables for adolescent developmental transitions to behavioral autonomy.

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