Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Ecology

Document Type



In 2004, the nation’s foreign-born population numbered approximately 35 million comprising about 12% of the total U.S. population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2005). Most studies of immigrants primarily research the two largest immigrant groups, those from Latin America and Asia, while little has been done with the less visible population of immigrants from Eastern Europe. Also, we know much about the experiences of low-income immigrants of color, but little about the experiences of white immigrant families in the professional ranks. A qualitative study was conducted with immigrant professionals from Eastern Europe to explore their experiences with raising children in a new sociocultural environment. A grounded theory methodology (Strauss & Corbin, 1998) was used for data collection and analysis. The participants (N=24) were interviewed in depth on the topics of adaptation to the host country; changes in the family as a result of immigration; participants’ perceptions of the differences of raising children in their countries of origin and the U.S.; the adjustments they had to make in a new context; education and language issues; relationships with children and conflict; cultural identity and acculturation. Based on the analysis, seven major themes emerged: (1) Education: “Education is a big goal, a means of establishing one’s life”; (2) Language: “He answers in English, and this breaks my heart”; (3) Ethnic identity and biculturalism: “I don’t think our kids are torn between two worlds… We are”; (4) Grandparents and extended family: “In our culture, the grandparents are very involved with grandchildren, their daily upbringing”; (5) Time bind: “You don’t have a lot of time for your kids here, and you need to live with that”; (6) Environmental influences: “We were not guided in our life that much by media and television; we got our [role] models from the family, books”; (7) Discipline, independence, self-esteem, and confidence: “As a parent, you have to know how to keep it in balance.” Narratives from the participants provide illustrations of the processes that occur in the family system due to a change in the context of living. Implications for practitioners and directions for future research are discussed.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Loren Dean Marks



Included in

Human Ecology Commons