Grandparents across the ocean

Eastern European immigrants struggle to maintain intergenerational relationships

Olena Nesteruk, Loren Marks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Many contemporary immigrants belong to transnational families-families that maintain significant contact with two or more countries. These families identify with multiple environments and deal with life-cycle changes over extensive geographical space. This paper has two major aims: 1) to better understand how today's immigrant families facilitate intergenerational relationships across significant distances; and 2) to learn more about the understudied population of recent immigrant professionals from Eastern Europe in the United States. To accomplish these aims, in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with 24 immigrant mothers and fathers from Eastern European countries residing in the United States. Based on grounded theory methodology, we identified four themes: (1) The definition of "family" and the importance of extended family ties: "The relationships are tighter knit than those in the U.S."; (2) The role of grandparents in childrearing: "Who else do you think is more appropriate?"; (3) The strategies of maintaining intergenerational relationships: "I want my son to know his predecessors' language"; and (4) The stress of being torn between two worlds: "I don't want to be happy at the expense of my extended family." Our findings suggest that, in spite of advances in communication and travel, and a strong desire for continuation of intergenerational relations in immigrant families, emotional transnationalism is not easily achieved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-95
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Comparative Family Studies
Volume40
Issue number1
StatePublished - 9 Sep 2009

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Oceans and Seas
immigrant
extended family
Intergenerational relations
Intergenerational Relations
qualitative interview
grounded theory
Eastern Europe
life cycle
Grandparents
father
Life Cycle Stages
Nuclear Family
travel
Fathers
contact
Language
communication
Communication
Mothers

Cite this

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Grandparents across the ocean : Eastern European immigrants struggle to maintain intergenerational relationships. / Nesteruk, Olena; Marks, Loren.

In: Journal of Comparative Family Studies, Vol. 40, No. 1, 09.09.2009, p. 77-95.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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