Dissertation Abstracts

The contribution of resilience factors to the relationships between filial responsibilities and adjustment among young immigrants from the Former Soviet Union to Israel

Author: Ponizovsky Bergelson, Yael (Julia) , ponizovsky.yael@gmail.com
Department: Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare
University: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Supervisor: Prof. Dorit Roer Strier
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Filial responsibility , Immigration , Resilience , Adjustment
Areas of Research: Migration , Family Research , Youth


Immigration is a multifaceted event that often undermines social resources and familial support systems and affects the stability and continuity of family roles. Many young family members adopt parental roles to assist their parents to cope with immigration-related difficulties and challenges. This phenomenon is known as post-migration filial responsibility. Research on post-migration filial responsibility found both negative and positive implications for the psychological adjustment of young immigrants to their new social environment. It is of interest to gain more knowledge about the phenomenon and to explore what factors enable positive psychological outcomes. To our knowledge, no quantitative study has been conducted to examine the structure of post-migration filial responsibility, emotional reactions to filial responsibility, further psychological adjustment, and resilience factors in the filial responsibility-adjustment relationships. The present study fills these gaps investigating a representative group of young immigrants from the former Soviet Union (FSU) to Israel.
The present study aims to 1) to investigate the structure of post-migration filial responsibility and the relationships between its distinct components; 2) to retrospectively examine the relationships between filial responsibility among immigrant children and their following psychological adjustment; 3) to investigate the emotional reactions of immigrant children to filial responsibility and their ability to predict related psychological outcomes; 4) to explore the roles of optimism, sense of coherence and perceived social support from different sources as a potential resilience factors in the filial responsibility -adjustment relationships.
Data on 220 young adults (M age=28.03, SD=3.66), who immigrated from the FSU to Israel together with parental family and were aged 6-15 at immigration, were collected between 2010 and 2011 by an online questionnaire developed for this study.
First, the Comprehensive Filial Responsibilities Inventory (CFRI) consisting of six filial responsibility domains: dominance in family, cultural brokering, language brokering, emotional support to parents, self-reliance and money issues was validated. The filial responsibility domains differentially predicted two emotional reactions: cultural brokering predicted Distress, emotional support to parents predicted Pride, and the self-reliance domain was positively associated with Distress, but negatively with Pride. Then, we found that these emotional reactions coexist and possess a unique ability to predict distant adjustment outcomes above and beyond the filial responsibilities themselves. The resilience factors served as meaningful adjustment enhancers and sense of coherence was the strongest predictor of psychological adjustment. However, the resilience factors did not moderate the effect of filial responsibility in a protective way. The results contribute to an understanding of the interrelations between post-migration filial responsibility and psychological adjustment. Implications for clinical and social work with young adult immigrants who assumed filial responsibility in their families of origin are addressed.