Immigrant's emotional reactions to filial responsibilities and related psychological outcomes

Yael Ponizovsky Bergelson, Jenny Kurman, Dorit Roer-Strier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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. In this study we retrospectively examined the relationships between emotional reactions of immigrant children to filial responsibilities in their families of origin and their following psychological adjustment. Based on previous qualitative findings, the Emotional Reaction to Filial Responsibility scale (ERFR) was developed. A sample of 220 young adults (age 20-35), who immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union at age of 6-15, completed questionnaires evaluating filial responsibilities and emotional reactions to them retrospectively, as well as indications for present psychological adjustment (the Brief Symptom Inventory and the General Self-Efficacy Scale). The filial responsibility domains differentially predicted two reactions: cultural brokering predicted Distress scale, whereas emotional support to parents predicted Pride scale. The self-reliance domain was positively associated with Distress scale, but negatively with Pride scale. Hierarchical regressions indicated that these emotional reactions predict different aspects of adjustment: Pride scale predicted self-efficacy, whereas Distress scale predicted psychological symptoms. The emotional reactions demonstrated unique predictive ability above and beyond that of the filial responsibility domains. Thus, these reactions are better predictors of post-migration adjustment difficulties than the behaviors per se. Social services and clinicians should address the emotional reactions to filial responsibilities when working with immigrant children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-115
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is a part of the first author's PhD dissertation and was supported by the Harry and Sylvia Hoffman leadership and responsibility program and Nira Shenhar Foundation, promoting studies on immigrant absorption in Israel. The authors wish to thank David Bargal, Rena Kurs, Olga Oznobishin and Alexander. M. Ponizovsky for their assistance at different stages of this study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Adjustment
  • Emotional reactions
  • Family processes
  • Filial responsibility
  • Immigration
  • Post-migration role reversal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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