Method: Repeated focus groups (10-sessions) were conducted with twelve Mexican immigrant mothers. A flexible interview schedule was utilized to promote reflection and dialogue about the mothers' experiences rearing children in a foreign land. Mothers were asked about the socialization practices of their parents, about the challenges they encounter parenting in the U.S, how they deal with barriers, and about their own parenting practices. Participants were from rural and urban areas of Mexico, half had been in the U.S. ten years or more, nine had seven or more years of education, and while all had children only three had adolescents. Data were analyzed using constructivist grounded theory methods: simultaneous collection and analysis of data, initial line by line coding, focused coding, and memo writing (Charmaz, 2006). To promote trustworthiness member checks were conducted and the mothers' feedback incorporated into the findings.
Results: Several themes emerged from the data including the mother's commitment to raising bicultural children. They wanted to instill cultural values in their children and also teach their children skills necessary for success in the new environment. They labored to raise children who did not lose a sense of themselves as Mexican while they accepted that their children were also American. Their stories revealed the parenting strategies of previous generations and how they modify these practices to deal with challenges in the host environment. Strategies included native language maintenance, verbal instruction, modeling, use of cultural stories, engaging children in traditions, and use of logical consequences.
Implications: This research provides rich information about the parenting practices of Mexican immigrants that can be used to create culturally grounded programs enabling child welfare practitioners to work more effectively with Mexican immigrant families. This study also demonstrates how immigrant mothers can successfully enculturate their children and assist them in adapting to the dominant culture.