Presentation Title

Afro-Caribbean Immigrant Motherhood: An Exploratory Study

Faculty Mentor

Richard Mora, Occidental College

Start Date

17-11-2018 10:15 AM

End Date

17-11-2018 10:30 AM

Location

C158

Session

Oral 2

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

behavioral_social_sciences

Abstract

Afro-Caribbean immigrants are a rapidly growing population in the United States. While they share similarities with African Americans and Latino immigrants, they are a unique and diverse group that is often misunderstood and understudied. It is particularly important to understand the experiences of immigrants using an intersectional lens, especially as attention has turned to black immigrant families. This exploratory study examines how Afro-Caribbean immigrant mothers navigate contrasting parenting values and practices as immigrants to the United States. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 Afro-Caribbean immigrant mothers. The study finds that participants’ parenting practices differed according to the extent of their cohesion to Caribbean cultural parenting values and levels of acculturation to democratic modes of parenting in the United States. Mothers sought to fulfill the competing expectations of Caribbean cultural parenting and parenting norms in the U.S. which lead the mothers to feel a sense of liminality in their individual identity and their relationship with their own parents. This research contributes to the theoretically informed scholarship on acculturation and motherhood, which has thus far focused primarily on the immigrant experiences of Latin American and Asian immigrants, by expanding the scholarly understanding of how Afro-Caribbean immigrant mothers do mothering.

Summary of research results to be presented

Participants’ parenting practices varied according to the extent of their adherence to Caribbean cultural parenting values and levels of acculturation to democratic modes of parenting in the United States. While some mothers maintained strict disciplinary practices associated with the Caribbean, a majority, 9 of 12, emphasized more discussion-based interaction and discipline with their children. Thus, in contrast to previous research, where Caribbean parents used threats and commands to guide children’s behaviors, the majority of Caribbean immigrant mothers in this study used more lenient and democratic modes of childrearing (Roopnarine et al. 2014). These mothers chose to embrace U.S. parenting practices because they wanted their children to feel fully supported in achieving upward mobility. They struggled with the expectation of passing on Caribbean cultural values and using U.S. parenting practices because they wanted to concurrently fulfill the expectations of Caribbean cultural parenting and parenting norms in the U.S. The conflict between implementing U.S. values and maintaining Caribbean culture resulted in tension for mother’s individual identity and their relationship with their own parents. With their identity in flux between their Caribbean heritage and that of being an immigrant mother in the U.S., mothers felt cast into a liminal space where they are not fulfilling the expectations of Caribbean culture or as a mother in the U.S. context.

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Nov 17th, 10:15 AM Nov 17th, 10:30 AM

Afro-Caribbean Immigrant Motherhood: An Exploratory Study

C158

Afro-Caribbean immigrants are a rapidly growing population in the United States. While they share similarities with African Americans and Latino immigrants, they are a unique and diverse group that is often misunderstood and understudied. It is particularly important to understand the experiences of immigrants using an intersectional lens, especially as attention has turned to black immigrant families. This exploratory study examines how Afro-Caribbean immigrant mothers navigate contrasting parenting values and practices as immigrants to the United States. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 Afro-Caribbean immigrant mothers. The study finds that participants’ parenting practices differed according to the extent of their cohesion to Caribbean cultural parenting values and levels of acculturation to democratic modes of parenting in the United States. Mothers sought to fulfill the competing expectations of Caribbean cultural parenting and parenting norms in the U.S. which lead the mothers to feel a sense of liminality in their individual identity and their relationship with their own parents. This research contributes to the theoretically informed scholarship on acculturation and motherhood, which has thus far focused primarily on the immigrant experiences of Latin American and Asian immigrants, by expanding the scholarly understanding of how Afro-Caribbean immigrant mothers do mothering.