Lessons in mother–child and father–child personal narratives in latino families

Tonia N. Cristofaro, Catherine S. Tamis-LeMonda

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Children’s early social exchanges, including the oral sharing of personal experiences, play an important role in their development. By talking about personal experiences (i.e., narratives), children come to understand their world and to develop a sense of self within a broader social-cultural context. This chapter describes mother–child and father–child narratives in a sample of 37 lowincome Puerto Rican, Mexican, and Dominican immigrant families residing in New York City. We provide a qualitative examination of the major cultural lessons that were communicated by mothers and fathers in their shared stories with their preschoolers. Between the spring of pre-kindergarten and fall of kindergarten, 16 girls and 21 boys were observed in their home. They were videotaped sharing 2-minute narratives with their mother and father (separately) about a “special memory.” Narratives were transcribed verbatim and the thematic content was explored and coded along three major cultural lessons. First, parents emphasized the central role of family in their children’s life, highlighting the importance of children identifying and loving their family members, maintaining tieswith the family, and displaying appropriate behaviors toward relatives. Second, shared narratives communicated messages about gender roles, specifically in terms of emotions and activities that are associated with being male and female. Third, parents stressed the value of academic achievement, including the importance of working hard in school and feeling proud about scholastic accomplishments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSpanish-Language Narration and Literacy
Subtitle of host publicationCulture, Cognition, and Emotion
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages38
ISBN (Electronic)9780511815669
ISBN (Print)9780521883757
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008


  • Father-child communication
  • Mother-child communication
  • Parent-child narratives
  • Preschool children’s narrative development
  • Preschool children’s social-cultural development
  • School readiness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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