Therapeutic Use of Parental Stories to Enhance Mexican American Family Socialization: Family Transition to the Community School System


Address correspondence to Kathleen J. Niska, 2128 Marshall Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104–5756. E-mail:


An ethnographic study was carried out in Hidalgo County, Texas, among 23 Mexican American families to field-test a methodology of using parental stories to enhance family socialization when a firstborn child enters the community school system. Thirteen of the 23 families shared their parental concerns about the child beginning school in audio-taped interviews in 1998. In 1999, the investigator assessed the parental concerns of the remaining 10 families who were about to have their children enter the school system. The investigator elicited parental stories of how the 13 experienced families managed their parental concerns during 1998, transcribed 65 parental stories verbatim, and shared the parental stories that addressed the specific concerns of each of the 10 inexperienced families. The assessment showed the stories addressed concerns that were similar, the inexperienced parents acquired new ways of managing their parental concerns, and their overall concern was lessened as a result of listening to the stories.