Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 1155–1167 | Cite as

Immigrant Parent Legal Status, Parent–Child Relationships, and Child Social Emotional Wellbeing: A Middle Childhood Perspective

  • Kalina M. Brabeck
  • Erin Sibley
Original Paper


Immigrant parent legal status is an important, but understudied aspect of children’s developmental contexts that can affect their social emotional wellbeing. The present study used the Behavioral and Emotional Screening System to explore the influence of parents’ legal status on the social emotional wellbeing of 7–10 year old U.S.-born children of immigrant parents from Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Central America. Aspects of parent–child relationships, measured via the Parent–Child Relationship Questionnaire , were also explored as potential moderators. One hundred and eighty families were recruited via school and community outreach. Forty-nine percent of participating families were mixed-status. Results indicate that children in mixed-status families experience higher levels of anxiety, but lower levels of hyperactivity, and that parent–child communication moderates the relationship between parent legal status and the child’s hyperactivity. Results further indicate overall high levels of functioning among all families, regardless of parent legal status, across several domains of parent–child relationships. Findings suggest the importance of assessing for internalizing symptoms among children in mixed-status families as well as the potential for building on family strengths in the design of programs and policies to support immigrant families.


Middle childhood Social emotional development Mixed-status families Immigrant families Parent–child relationships 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Counseling, Educational Leadership and School Psychology, Feinstein School of Education and Human DevelopmentRhode Island CollegeProvidenceUSA
  2. 2.Center for Optimized Student Support, Lynch School of EducationBoston CollegeChestnut HillUSA

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