Date of Award

2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Religious Education, PhD

First Advisor

John V.G. Matthews

Second Advisor

Emilio Garcia-Marenko

Third Advisor

Lionel N.A. Matthews

Abstract

Problem. Parenting among immigrants presents unique challenges to parents whose cultural orientation is different from the host culture. Because of the meager research literature on immigrant families in the USA, little is known about the phenomenon of parenting among sub-Saharan African immigrant parents. This study investigated the patterns related to the parenting practices of selected sub-Saharan African immigrant parents, how they conduct corrective discipline to their children, and the challenges they face rearing children in Southwest Michigan.

Method. Qualitative research methods including interviews, observations, focus group discussions, and artifact collection were used in this dissertation to generate data. A snowball strategy was applied to acquire a sample of 14 families from a community of sub-Saharan African immigrant families that lived in Southwest Michigan and were rearing school-age children. Participants were immigrant parents from Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda, and had lived in the USA for at least 5 years. Data were analyzed by using the research question approach.

Results. Results revealed that lack of time for the children and continuing influences from the participants' cultural and ideological backgrounds characterized the parenting patterns that emerged from the data. Parents reported using non-physical methods to discipline their children. Cultural conflicts, the demands of new lifestyles, and lack of parenting resources emerged as the major themes representing the challenges faced by sub-Saharan African immigrant parents in Southwest Michigan.

Conclusion. Cross-cultural parenting creates a tension between a desire to retain the old ways and pressure to change to new ways of parenting. A multi-cultural approach to parenting is recommended for immigrant parents to take advantage of the positive values from both cultures. Parent training and the creation of support groups are needed to aid the transition of immigrant parents into the American culture.

Subject Area

Child rearing--Michigan, Parenting--Michigan, African-American parents--Michigan, African-American children--Michigan, Immigrants--Michigan

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