Familism values embedded in U.S. Mexican mother-child conversations about sibling conflicts

Joy Roos, Jean M. Ispa, Fiorella L. Carlos Chavez, Jennifer G. Bohanek, Sahitya Maiya, Jihee Im

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The current study focused on familism-related content that emerged in a primarily qualitative analysis of U.S. Mexican mother-child conversations about sibling conflicts (Mage = 10.55; English = 43 (24 female); Spanish = 43 (19 female)). The study’s goals were to (1) describe how familism, a central Latinx value, is conveyed to children in late middle childhood, (2) uncover signs that children at this age actively or passively accept or reject mothers’ observations and expectations, and (3) determine if there are differences in conversation content based on language preference, child gender, or birth order. During discussions about sibling conflict, mothers’ and children’s comments revolved around four pillars of familism: establishing and maintaining harmony and devotion, recognizing the specialness of family ties (in this case sibling ties), accepting role obligations, and developing other-orientation. These values were expressed more implicitly than explicitly by a majority of the dyads. Most children accepted at least some of mothers’ statements, but resistance was also high. Chi-square tests indicated no gender-of-child or birth order differences in the content of the discussions, but dyads who spoke Spanish during the conversations were more likely than those who spoke English to speak in explicit familistic terms and to point to the specialness of the sibling tie. Our study is strengths-based as we demonstrate that in U.S. Mexican families, children’s conflicts with their siblings may serve as catalysts for “teaching moments” during which parents impart culturally relevant values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)645-669
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • Acculturation
  • U.S. Mexican mother-child conversations
  • cultural values
  • familism
  • sibling conflict

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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