Using the lenses of social constructionism and critical feminist theory, this dissertation examines how transnational Mexican couples in the agricultural town of Mecca, Southern California, respond to the crisis created by their adolescent children using illegal substances.
As part of the Contemporary Couples’ Study of Loma Linda University, sixteen
families were interviewed about how this problem affected their lives. The rich stories
collected were analyzed using the Strauss and Corbin (1998) guidelines for qualitative
research, in order to identify grounded theory that would inform services to this population.
Results suggest that these couples’ relationships are organized around the world of male work. Hard working husbands bring respect to themselves and to the wives who care for them. Female work is appreciated but deemed secondary. Contrary to the literature, female earnings in this study did not appear to promote more egalitarian relationships. During the crisis the couples continued to deal with each other under the same cultural values that guided their lives before: the men in charge of providing for the home and making the important decisions, and the women accepting responsibility for supporting their husbands and raising the children.
However, though hard work, outside and inside the home, is essential for these parents’ idea of respect, it is not a value shared by their more acculturated children. In trying to find the cause of disrespectful children who do not obey their parents, men accuse mothers of lacking discipline and overindulging children; women point to uninvolved fathers whose work take them away from home too long. Parents also blame their children’s “risky” friends, and several social contextual factors. Nonetheless, the desire to maintain a united family prompts the couples to revise their understanding of the construct of “respect” and find for it a new meaning, not based on obedience.
Findings of this study will help therapists to become more efficient in working with Latino couples, better equipped to identify their strengths, and able to help clients redefine their cultural values --instead of abandoning them-- when their unique migration experience challenges them.
Marital and Family Therapy
Counseling and Family Sciences
School of Science and Technology
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Year Degree Awarded
Date (Title Page)
Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings
Mecca, California; Acculturation; Hispanic Americans
Subject - Local
Contemporary Couples' Study, Loma Linda University, Male work, Teen substance abuse, Latino cultural values
Loma Linda University Libraries
This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.
Marquez, Alicia, "How Transnational Couples Deal with Teen Substance Use: A Socio-Contextual View" (2011). Loma Linda University Electronic Theses, Dissertations & Projects. Paper 46.
Loma Linda University Electronic Theses & Dissertations
Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives