Youths’ Imitation and De-identification from Parents: A Process Associated with Parent–Youth Cultural Incongruence in Mexican-American Families

Norma J. Perez-Brena, Kimberly Updegraff, Adriana J. Umaña-Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Cultural adaptation and parent–youth cultural incongruence have strong implications for individuals’ social adaptation and family dynamics. This study highlighted adolescents’ active role in parent–youth cultural incongruence through their decision to imitate or de-identify from parents, parent–youth warmth, and demographic similarities. Longitudinal data, spanning 8 years, from 246 Mexican-American families (mothers, fathers, and an early adolescent child), were used to address two study goals. The first goal was to link parent–youth relationship qualities and demographic similarities (i.e., gender, immigration status) at Wave 1 to adolescents’ imitation and de-identification from parents at Wave 2. Findings revealed that adolescents who reported more parent–youth warmth reported more imitation and less de-identification. Also, adolescents who belonged to U.S.-raised dyads reported less de-identification. The second goal tested adolescents’ reports of imitation and de-identification as predictors of parent–youth cultural incongruence in Mexican and Anglo cultural orientations at Wave 3. Results indicated that more imitation was associated with less mother–youth Anglo incongruence and that more de-identification was associated with more father–youth Anglo and Mexican incongruence. The unique relationship dynamics of mother–youth and father–youth dyads and the implications for intervention programming focused on reducing cultural incongruence and increasing family cohesion are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2028-2040
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Nov 15 2014



  • Acculturation gap
  • Adolescence
  • Mexican-American
  • Parent–adolescent relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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