The Reacculturation of Missionary Families: A Dynamic Theory

Volume 21
Spring 1993
The Reacculturation of Missionary Families: A Dynamic Theory

Case descriptions and a grounded theory of missionary reacculturation were generated incorporating the perspectives of individual members and the dynamics of three missionary family systems. Repatriated subjects reported grieving over loss of reinforcing events associated with their lives overseas and altered frames of cultural reference. Adult subjects reported greater awareness of management stresses that had accentuated problems related to vocational adjustment and family life cycle stage. Reentry of families was associated with decline in family cohesiveness, greater dependence of wives on husbands' emotional support, and interpersonal tensions resulting from childrens' readaptation to the home culture. This study positions for the first time in the literature on missionary reacculturation four theoretical conclusions which require empirical validation: (a) a history of dysfunctional family-of-origin relationships is predictive of reentry transition difficulties for women, (b) concurrent transitions in other life dimensions after reentry are complicated by stresses associated with completing the intercultural cycle, (c) favorable sojourn outcomes facilitate adaptive grieving processes, and (d) couples whose marriages develop symmetrical power distributions following repatriation benefit to a greater extent from mutual support than couples whose relationships assume more asymmetrical distributions.

Dr. E.M. Stringham
66 - 73
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