Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Immigrant Family Strengths

According to the 2000 U.S. Census Bureau, about one in five children was an immigrant or had at least one immigrant parent. While these newcomer children and their families face numerous challenges, they also have many strengths. In fact, in some ways, children of immigrant parents are better off than U.S.-born children.

In some ways, immigrant children tend to be healthier than U.S.-born children. Babies born to immigrant mothers are less likely to be born with a low birth-weight and less likely to die in the first year of life than babies born to native.

Immigrant children are also more likely to live with two parents, and they are twice as likely to live with other relatives. Living with two parents or an extended family group can also provide a child with needed income, housing, and other support.

Finally, immigrant children have high educational goals. They tend to spend more time doing homework and do better in school, at least through middle school. They are also less likely to be involved in substance abuse, early sexual intercourse, delinquency, and violence .

Researchers caution that some immigrant families face more hardships than others. Children and families from parts of Latin America, Indochina, and the non-English speaking Caribbean often face tremendous difficulties. Poverty, language barriers, parents' lower educational levels, refugee status, and discrimination put children at risk. However, researchers suggest that policies and programs that assist these children can help them reach their potential as productive adults and nurturing parents.

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