Empathic Family Stress as a Sign of Family Connectedness in Haitian Immigrants

Authors


concerning this article should be addressed to Guerda Nicolas, Associate Professor, University of Miami, School of Education, 5205 University Dr., Coral Galdes, FL 33146. E-mail: nguerda@miami.edu

Abstract

Research on familial experiences has documented the important role of receiving family support, but has not examined the effects of providing such support. Empathic family stress refers to the stress that individuals experience in response to difficult life circumstances of family members. The current study took a first step in examining the empathic family stress of 134 Haitian immigrants. Results from hierarchical regressions indicate that empathic family stress is a significant predictor of depressive symptoms, but not acculturative stress, for Haitian immigrants. Findings from the study are examined from a strengths-based perspective, where empathic family stress is viewed as a sign of strong family connections among Haitian immigrants. Recommendations are provided for clinicians working with Haitian immigrants to help them experience empathic family stress in a healthy manner.

RESUMEN

Los estudios sugieren que las relaciones cercanas con los miembros de la familia directa y lejana suelen servir como una fuente fundamental de apoyo para las minorías étnicas y los inmigrantes que viven en los Estados Unidos (Carlson, Sperry, & Lewis, 1997; Sameroff & Suomi, 1996). Por ejemplo, los estudios han demostrado que las conexiones familiares suelen actuar como amortiguador para los factores estresantes asociados con el racismo y la adaptación a un país y cultura nuevos (Chan & Leong, 1994). Sin embargo, existen muy pocos estudios sobre estrés familiar empático; es decir, el estrés que se puede sufrir como resultado de las relaciones familiares cercanas cuando los miembros de la familia se preocupan los unos por los otros. Por lo tanto, este artículo intenta describir el estrés familiar empático desde la experiencia de inmigrantes haitianos, así como el papel que éste juega en su bienestar mental. Para comprender la importancia del estudio del estrés familiar empático entre familias inmigrantes negras, es importante resumir primero las principales características de las familias negras y haitianas.
Palabras clave: estrés familiar empático, haitiano, inmigrante, familias, depresión

Abstract

Research suggests that close relationships with immediate and extended family members often serve as a critical source of support for ethnic minorities and immigrants living in the United States (Carlson, Sperry, & Lewis, 1997; Sameroff & Suomi, 1996). For example, research has shown that family connection often acts as a buffer against the stressors associated with racism and adjustment to a new country and culture (Chan & Leong, 1994). However, research is limited on empathic family stress; that is the stress that can result from close family relationships when family members worry about one another. Therefore, this paper aims to describe the empathic family stress experienced by Haitian immigrants as well as the role it plays in their mental well being. In order to understand the significance of examining empathic family stress among Black immigrant families, it is important to first summarize the key characteristics of Black and Haitian families.
inline image empathic family stress, Haitian, immigrant, families, depression

Abstract

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