The contributions of youth to immigrant families

Andrew J. Fuligni, Eva H. Telzer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Introduction The settlement of the foreign born to a new country often is a collective process that involves the participation of multiple family members. Children play an active role in the adaptation of many immigrant families because of cultural traditions and situational imperatives. Culturally, many immigrants to North America and Europe come from societies that emphasize the role of children in supporting and maintaining the household. For example, immigrants from Asian and Latin American countries may bring with them traditions in which children are expected to participate in sibling care, meal preparation, home cleaning, and financial support of other family members (Fuligni, 1998; Tseng, 2004). Sometimes referred to as “filial piety” or “familism,” these expectations are common and defining features of what it means to be a good son or daughter in the native cultures of many immigrants. At the same time, the act of settling in a new and different society creates imperatives for the active contribution of younger family members. Foreign-born parents often do not possess the skills, knowledge, and social capital to quickly integrate into the host society. They may lack sufficient facility with the dominant language and need to work long hours in unstable jobs with irregular work schedules (Zhou, 1997). Parents must interact with institutions such as schools and governmental agencies with little prior knowledge about the norms and expectations of such interactions. By default, children contribute to the management of the household by virtue of their availability, language ability, and relative comfort with engaging with social institutions in the new society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRealizing the Potential of Immigrant Youth
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781139094696
ISBN (Print)9781107019508
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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