Essentialism in Spanish parents’ descriptions of their transnationally adopted teenagers

Tomasa Báñez Tello


This preliminary qualitative study of 24 adoptive families in Catalonia, Spain asks how adoptive parents of teens describe the things they dislike about their children. This question matters because prior research shows that parents’ views of their children can affect their parenting style and their relationships with their children. I show that in describing their dislikes, parents draw on essentialist beliefs about their children’s culture of origin and about their personality traits. My analysis inspires questions about the possible relationship between essentialist parental beliefs and parenting practice, in both adoptive families and families more broadly. This is of particular relevance in the current moment, in which childrearing is influenced by neoliberal values that emphasize the social success of children and teens as future citizens and hold parents responsible for this outcome (Geinger et al., 2014). The research can also inform family and professional practices and public policies related to adoption.

Palabras clave

Transnational adoption, teenagers, essentialism, parents, Spain

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