A model of mother–child adjustment in Arab Muslim immigrants to the US
, Edythe S. Hough
, Thomas N. Templin
, Anahid Kulwicki
, Anne Katz
College of Nursing, University of Central Florida, PO Box 162210, Orlando, Florida 32816, United States
Wayne State University, MI, United States
Florida International University, Florida United States
Available online 14 September 2009
Child behavior problems
We examined the mother–child adjustment and child behavior problems in Arab Muslim immigrant
families residing in the U.S.A. The sample of 635 mother–child dyads was comprised of mothers who
emigrated from 1989 or later and had at least one early adolescent child between the ages of 11 and 15
years old who was also willing to participate. Arabic speaking research assistants collected the data from
the mothers and children using established measures of maternal and child stressors, coping, and social
support; maternal distress; parent–child relationship; and child behavior problems. A structural equa-
tion model (SEM) was speciﬁed a priori with 17 predicted pathways. With a few exceptions, the ﬁnal SEM
model was highly consistent with the proposed model and had a good ﬁt to the data. The model
accounted for 67% of the variance in child behavior problems. Child stressors, mother–child relationship,
and maternal stressors were the causal variables that contributed the most to child behavior problems.
The model also accounted for 27% of the variance in mother–child relationship. Child active coping, child
gender, mother’s education, and maternal distress were all predictive of the mother–child relationship.
Mother–child relationship also mediated the effects of maternal distress and child active coping on child
behavior problems. These ﬁndings indicate that immigrant mothers contribute greatly to adolescent
adjustment, both as a source of risk and protection. These ﬁndings also suggest that intervening with
immigrant mothers to reduce their stress and strengthening the parent–child relationship are two
important areas for promoting adolescent adjustment.
Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
There is scant research using a comprehensive family-level
approach to studying Arab Muslim immigrant mothers and
adolescent children residing in Euro-American countries (Britto,
2008). Adolescence is generally considered to be complicated for
these youth, in part because the typical identity issues and peer
pressure associated with this age occur in the context of living in
two cultures with differing normative expectations (Britto, 2008;
Dwairy, 2006; Haddad & Smith, 1996; Mann, 2004; Sarroub, 2005;
Talbani & Hasanali, 2000). Rearing adolescents in Euro-American
countries also poses demands for Arab Muslim immigrant mothers.
Immigrant mothers are torn between helping their adolescents
become part of a new country while also instilling values and
norms from the homeland (Garcia Coll & Pachter, 2002; Haddad &
Smith, 1996; Hattar-Pollara & Meleis, 1995; Kulwicki, 2008; Kwak,
2003). In addition to this more complicated aspect of parenting,
immigrant mothers are also coping with their own personal
stressors associated with uprooting from their homeland and
resettling in a totally new and sometimes hostile environment
(Abu-El-Haj, 2006; Aroian, 2006; Bacallao & Smokowski, 2007;
Marvasti, 2006; Suarez-Orozco & Suarez-Orozco, 2001). Yet, not all
adolescents with Arab Muslim immigrant mothers will have
To address the dual possibility of risk and protection in Arab
Muslim immigrant families, we examined the pathways in a model
adapted from a study of HIV-positive mothers and their children
(Hough, Brumitt, Templin, Saltz, & Mood, 2003) by which individual
and family variables affect stress, coping, and adjustment in Arab
mothers and their young adolescent children. The model constructs
and the hypothesized relationships are shown in Fig. 1. Low
maternal distress and fewer child behavior problems serve as the
indicators of adjustment for mothers and children, respectively. We
This research was supported by a grant from the United States National Insti-
tutes of Health National Institute of Nursing Research, R01NR 008504, Karen
Aroian, Principal Investigator.
Corresponding author. Tel.: þ1 4078234290; fax: þ1 4078235675.
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org (K. Aroian).
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Social Science & Medicine
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/socscimed
0277-9536/$ – see front matter Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Social Science & Medicine 69 (2009) 1377–1386