Date of Conferral





Human Services


Tina Jaeckle, Andrew Carpenter


Immigrant Haitian parents experience acculturative stress when adjusting to the norms and expectations of a new country. Acculturative stress may be exacerbated if their adolescent children display unfamiliar behaviors, which may result in a greater need for psychological assessments and education programs to mitigate the instances of family breakdown. Following Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, there has been an increase in high-risk behaviors among Haitian adolescents. To date, there is limited research on acculturative stress in immigrant Haitian parents and how this stress may relate to their actions and perceptions of high-risk behaviors in their adolescent children. In this case study date were collected from survey data and semi structured interviews with six Haitian immigrant parents of adolescent children, ages 13 to 19. Participants described their perceptions shaped by acculturation with respect to at-risk behaviors in their children. From an analysis of the data, five themes emerged: (a) the role of respect for parents and elderly authority figures; (b) Haitian austerity versus American luxury/freedom; (c) Haitian community disapproval versus American jailtime; (d) parents’ perceptions of assimilation predict adolescents’ behavior; and (e) tough love as a mechanism to enforce assimilation. These results may shed light on the cultural factors forming Haitian parental perceptions of high-risk behaviors and may help to reach an understanding of the cultural aspects contributing to maladaptive behaviors among adolescents of Haitian immigrants in the United States. Potential positive implications for social change that could result from this study is a potential platform for community leaders to design effective intervention programs to prevent family breakdowns in this immigrant population.