Parent-Child Role Reversal and Psychological Adjustment Among Immigrant Youth in Israel

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Abstract

Parent-child role reversal and its relation to psychological adjustment was investigated in Israel among immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Study 1 examined immigrant and Israeli-born college students (n = 184), and Study 2 examined adolescents (n = 180) by means of self-report questionnaires. Two major factors of role reversal emerged: child dominance and family support. The results of both studies clearly showed that immigrants assume more dominant roles and parental responsibilities in their families and receive less support from their parents than their Israeli-born peers. Role reversal dimensions had differential relations with adjustment. Child dominance was mostly not related to adjustment, except for a positive correlation with psychological distress among immigrants. Familial support appeared to be the most important factor related to better adjustment among all studied groups, immigrants included. It is interesting that language brokering (i.e., translating for parents), although associated with child dominance, was negatively related to self-perceptions. Possible explanations within the Israeli context are suggested for negative language brokering correlates, with support from the interviews conducted among the immigrants.

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