Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


This research study was conducted as a strategy in learning more about Latino culture, specifically how Latino culture influences a mother's attachment to her child. In this study I will operationally define "Latina" as an immigrant mother who was born in Mexico, Central America, or South America or who has at least one parent that is Latino/a. This researcher found that there is a gap in the literature about attachment in Latino families. This study aimed to uncover the meaning of attachment in Latino families and conceptualize its meaning when compared to predominant "white" culture style of attachment. Research on this population can lead to more appropriate interventions to assist Latino families in clinical practice. Latina mothers demonstrated an ability to articulate their experiences about learning parenting strategies within the process of also acculturating to the United States way of living. These mothers gave evidence of the integration that exists in Latina mothers who have raised their children in the United States of how to weave both traditional heritage country values and new Western society ways. Each narrative had its own individual reality of what it meant to be a Latina mother in Los Angeles, California and what had been decided to pass down to their children and what had been changed. The idiosyncrasies that emerged were in part due to the variance of age of the participants, their social economic status, relationship status, years of acculturation, generational effects, and partner's status of acculturation or not. The personally semi-structured interviews told a story of how the intersection of both culture and being Latina in the United States would be unique. The five major findings that emerged were: (1) the impact that Latino culture had on the mother and child relationship; (2) the influence of both Latina culture and the norm (operationally defined as a traditional white, middle class, married couple) on the parenting practices implemented; (3) the external influences of an attachment like traumas and willingness to seek help; (4) Latina mothers' determination to create a better life for their children through educational attainment, economic stability, and secure housing; and (5) the negative offset of male Latinos taking a back seat to parenting because of the generational message of female omnipotence. As a result of this study it was found that: (1) Latino families may benefit in a narrative therapy when working with a member that is struggling between the two worlds of Latino tradition and mainstream American culture; (2) clinicians need to be aware of the generational effects of immigrant children and their experience of living the survivor's guilt of having a better life than what their parents had; (3) Latinas may need assistance in understanding the term "attachment" to understand how to best foster a secure attachment. Implications for future studies would be to do a new research method of evaluating attachment through observations. Additionally, it is important for the researcher to continue to evaluate which qualities, environments, and living conditions assist a mother and child to form a secure attachment.


v, 63 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2007. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 45-47).