Family separation and changes in peer relationships among early adolescent Latino youth: Examining the mediating role of family relationships
This longitudinal study examines whether family processes (family cohesion and family conflict) mediate the relationship between family separation experiences and the development of peer relationships (quality and conflict). The study includes a sample of 199 early adolescent Latinos from immigrant families. Family conflict mediated the relationship between separation experiences from fathers and peer conflict at year 1 but not year 2 such that more separation from father was associated with higher family conflict and higher peer conflict at year 1. Family cohesion did not mediate associations between mother or father separation and peer relationship outcomes. Family cohesion predicted more positive peer relationship quality at year 1 and family conflict predicted more peer conflict at year 1 indicating some distinction between these characteristics of relationships for families and peers. Mother separation predicted more peer conflict at year 1. This is consistent with qualitative studies of immigration experiences and separation (e.g., Baccallo & Smokowski, 2007; Suarez-Orozco et al., 2002). This study has added empirical quantitative support to show high levels of family conflict associated with family separation. Further, this study has demonstrated that youth who experience greater separation from fathers are likely to experience higher family conflict that is associated with greater peer conflict. In contrast, mother separation has a more direct association with peer conflict. Although family separations are associated with more peer conflict, they do not appear to influence change over time in peer conflict. The different paths of influence for mother separation and father separation warrant further research to explicate the unique associations between each parent's separation and family dynamics.
Index words. Latino, Immigration, Family separation, Family Cohesion, Family conflict, Peer relationships, Peer conflict, Youth, Adolescence.
Individual & family studies;
Hispanic American studies
0620: Developmental psychology
0628: Individual & family studies
0737: Hispanic American studies