Differential acculturation, bilingual education, and mother-child conflict
Cohen, Isaac Y.
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The present study investigated the inter-relationships between mother-child conflict, attachment to the country of birth, acculturation to the United States, and monolingual versus bilingual education in Soviet Jewish refugee families who have 8- to 12-year-old children attending New York City public schools. In this comparative study of two groups, Group A consisted of 40 mothers and their 40 children who attended bilingual (Russian-English) education classes, while Group B consisted of 40 mothers and their 40 children who attended monolingual classes.;The main hypotheses of the study were: (1) A lower rate of conflict will occur between mothers and children who attend bilingual education programs, and a higher rate of conflict will occur between mothers and children who attend monolingual education programs because of the lesser degree of differential acculturation in the bilingual sub-sample; and (2) Correlations exist between mother-child conflict and the mother's demographic characteristics such as prior education, age, income level, and occupation. (3) Mother-child conflict will be strongly associated with the differential degree of acculturation between them.;A battery of measures was used to obtain extensive demographic information on all subjects and to assess conflict and degrees of attachment and acculturation. Personal interviews were conducted with all subjects by Russian-speaking interviewers.;The findings revealed that significant demographic differences existed between the two groups, particularly in financial status and level of education. However, the two groups did not differ significantly in the level of conflict reported by mothers and their children. Significant correlations did not exist between conflict and either acculturation to the United States or attachment to the Soviet Union. However, significant correlations were found between the variables of attachment and acculturation. Mother-child conflict was found to be related to a number of demographic characteristics. The results of the present study are important in understanding which factors influence intergenerational conflict in the Soviet Jewish refugee population. The results also provide extensive information about the demographic differences between families whose children attend monolingual rather than bilingual education programs. It is concluded that the influence of educational setting on mother-child conflict can only be studied through a true experimental design.