Perceived dyadic cultural discrepancies, intergenerational conflict, and ethnocultural identity conflict in Arab Canadian families
Research on developmental, family, and cross-cultural psychology has consistently found evidence that discrepancies exist between parents and their youth around individual preferences, social conventions, and personal values. In immigrant families, these issues may be compounded by cultural change. Indeed, some research has found that immigrant parent-youth dyads diverge in their heritage and settlement culture orientations and have different personal values priorities. These discrepancies, in turn, are related to poorer youth and family adjustment. In recent years, some studies have proposed that facets of the parent-youth relationship may buffer the experience of maladjustment as a function of cultural discrepancies. Therefore, this dissertation had two general aims: (1) to examine the extent to which immigrant Arab Canadian youth perceive cultural discrepancies between themselves and their parents, as well as how they relate to individual and familial adjustment; and (2) to identify specific facets of the parent-youth relationship that moderate the association between perceived cultural discrepancies and outcomes. Although research on different cultural groups as well as immigrant and ethnic minority families has increased in recent years, there is a paucity of empirical work examining Arab immigrants in Canada. This dissertation used a mixed-methods approach to comprehensively investigate youth’s perceptions of parent-youth cultural discrepancies and parent-youth relationships, and how they related to intergenerational conflict and ethnocultural identity conflict. Study 1 consisted of a series of semi-structured interviews. Using a narrative approach, 12 immigrant youth were asked to describe their individual and family experiences as Arabs living in Canada. Findings confirmed that youth perceived cultural discrepancies between themselves and their parents, which were associated with increased intergenerational conflict and ethnocultural identity conflict. However, specific aspects of the parent-youth relationship were identified as either a protective (i.e., when they were open, communicative, and supportive) or risk (i.e., when they were marked by emotional distance) factor. Study 2 was a quantitative approach to examine the prevalence of perceived cultural discrepancies, and their association with intergenerational conflict and ethnocultural identity conflict. Specifically, a series of hierarchical regressions were used to test the hypotheses that parent-youth relationships moderated the associations between perceived cultural discrepancies and conflict. Results confirmed that immigrant Arab youth in Canada perceived heritage and settlement culture orientation and values discrepancies between themselves and their parents, that perceived cultural discrepancies were associated with more conflict, and that parent-youth relationships moderated the relationship between perceived cultural discrepancies and conflict. These studies were among the first to examine these issues in immigrant Arab families in Canada. It is imperative to increase our knowledge of Arab families in Canada given their rapid population growth, cultural dissimilarity, the pervasiveness of group misunderstanding and misrepresentation that has been exacerbated post-9/11, and the likelihood that immigration from the Middle East and North Africa will surge following the Arab Spring.