A Phenomenological Study of Immigrant Parents of Adolescents with Delinquent Behavior in Israel

Liat Yakhnich, Sophie D. Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Scarce qualitative literature has focused on understanding the perspective of parents of adolescents involved in crime, and no prior literature has examined how the status of being a parent of an adolescent who is involved in delinquency intersects with being an immigrant parent. The current phenomenological study examined, through the eyes of immigrant parents, how they comprehend their children’s involvement in delinquent behavior. This study examined in-depth semistructured interviews conducted with fourteen immigrant parents (10 mothers and 4 fathers) from the former Soviet Union in Israel of children treated in rehabilitation facilities for delinquent youth. Data analysis revealed a gradual decline in children's behavior ascribed to the developmental stage of adolescence, the pressures of immigration, and cultural conflict. These three factors are interwoven together to create a fabric within which they see their children turning to crime. Parents' gradual loss of control is balanced by attempts to idealize the parent–child relationship and to minimize the severity of the offenses committed. They describe various differing and even contradictory experiences of themselves as parents and their struggles to piece together incohesive, alternating experiences of themselves as parents. Despite the critical role they can play in their children’s rehabilitation, as well as the distress that they themselves experience, parents of children involved in delinquent behavior have often been ignored in research. Acknowledging parents' perspectives and experiences can allow development of appropriate therapeutic strategies to support them and maximize their abilities to support their children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1856-1873
Number of pages18
JournalFamily Process
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Family Process Institute


  • Adolescent
  • Delinquency
  • Immigrant
  • Israel
  • Parents


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