Autonomy-Supportive Parenting in Immigrant and Non-Immigrant Youth During Early Adolescence

Rebecca Distefano, Ann S. Masten, Frosso Motti-Stefanidi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is a burgeoning literature on autonomy-supportive parenting and positive adaptation in youth across diverse cultures, but little is known about autonomy support in immigrant families. Bolstering autonomy in immigrant youth may be particularly important for their success on both universal and immigrant-specific developmental tasks and yet studies examining autonomy support in immigrant adolescents are rare. In the current study, the first goal was to establish measurement equivalence for a widely-used autonomy support measure in immigrant and non-immigrant youth. Subsequently, we examined how changes in autonomy support during early adolescence varied by immigrant status. The sample included 1252 immigrant and non-immigrant youth (Mage = 12.70 at Wave 1) living in Greece who completed a self-report measure of maternal autonomy support in their schools once per year for three years. Results indicated that the latent construct, factor loadings, and item thresholds of the autonomy support measure were invariant across immigrant and non-immigrant adolescents, as well as over time. Neither group displayed significant growth in autonomy support and, counter to expectation, trajectories of autonomy support did not differ by immigrant status. These findings demonstrate that autonomy support is a meaningful construct in Greek native and immigrant families and also indicate that these behaviors, as perceived by youth, were stable during early to middle adolescence for immigrant and non-immigrant youth living in Greece.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1171-1183
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 20 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The present study uses data from the Athena Studies of Resilient Adaptation (AStRA), a collaborative project focusing on the quality of adaptation of immigrant youth living in Greece. This project was supported by a research grant to F.M.S. funded by the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (HFRI). The grant supports research projects of faculty members and researchers working in Greek Universities and Research Centres. Preparation of this manuscript was supported in part by the University of Minnesota Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship (R.D.) and the Irving B. Harris Professorship (A.S.M).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Adolescence
  • Autonomy-supportive parenting
  • Immigrants
  • Longitudinal
  • Measurement invariance


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