Want Happy Latino Teens? Stop Forcing Assimilation.

020For as far back as I can remember, I was told, by the words and actions of my parents that assimilation was the key to success. Success meaning a good education, a good job and acceptance by those around me. Comprehensive immigration reform, browned as Latino, is telling the undocumented the same thing. If they want to be successful and be accepted by others they must assimilate, learn English and everything will be alright. Look at the case of Walter Lara, he’s an “all-American” success story that other immigrants are expected to live up to. And if they can’t?

Success doesn’t equal happiness or health, however. A recent study shows that Latino youth who are taught to embrace their bi-cultural status, that is their Latinidad as well as their experiences living in the United States, make them happier, healthier, smarter and less likely to “do bad things”.

“We found teens who maintain strong ties to their Latino cultures perform better academically and adjust more easily socially,” Smokowski said. “When we repeated the survey a year later, for every 1-point increase in involvement in their Latino cultures, we saw a 13 percent rise in self-esteem and a 12 to 13 percent decrease in hopelessness, social problems and aggressive behavior.

“Also, the study showed parents who develop a strong bicultural perspective have teen children who are less likely to feel anxiety and face fewer social problems,” he said. “For every increase in a parent’s involvement in United States culture, we saw a 15 to 18 percent decrease in adolescent social problems, aggression and anxiety one year later. Parents who were more involved in U.S. culture were in a better position to proactively help their adolescents with peer relations, forming friendships and staying engaged in school. This decreases the chances of social problems arising.”

“Such results suggest that Latino youth and their parents benefit from biculturalism,” Smokowski said.

Via / Science Daily

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4 comments on “Want Happy Latino Teens? Stop Forcing Assimilation.
  1. That’s so funny because I recently posted something like this on my blog. No stats or anything, but just my preference for Latino-American kids to remember their and their parents’ heritage. Interesting post! :)

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