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Using Theories of Relational Maintenance, Coping, and Resilience to Bridge the Distance between Separated Latinx Immigrant Families


Separated Latinx families experience a multitude of stressors. Although stress is inevitable, theories of relational maintenance, coping, and resilience may offer insights into improving the lives of separated Latinx families. Limited research has explored the perspectives of separated parents, separated children, and surrogate caregivers and the strategies they enact to sustain their relationships while navigating geographical separation. Thus, through 20 separated Latinx parents, 20 separated Latinx children, and 20 surrogate Latinx caregivers (N = 20 low-income, Latinx immigrant family triads), the current studies aimed to extend: (1) our theoretical understanding of relational maintenance behaviors enacted before, during, and after the separation through the lens of the Theory of Resilience and Relational Load (TRRL; Afifi et al., 2016) coupled with the Long-Distance Relational Maintenance Model (LDRMM; Merolla, 2010), (2) our understanding of individual and communal coping among separated families through the lens of the Extended Theoretical Model of Communal Coping (TMCC; Afifi et al., 2020), (3) the role of the surrogate caregiver in helping or inhibiting separated parent-child relational maintenance, and (4) the role of culture and structural barriers in understanding separated, low-income, Latinx families’ relational maintenance and coping.

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