The strength of family bonds: A look into the lives of a family that has overcome adversity and marginality

Angelique Nevarez Maes, University of Texas at El Paso


In the recent literature that entails the effectiveness of parent/child bonds in deterring children from crime and related deviant activities, little information is mentioned about the effectiveness of Kinship (extended family members) and its possible effectiveness in deterring an individual from crime and related deviant activities. Adverse events such as drug abuse, early death, prostitution and gang activity can plague a family and threaten its unity when parental bonds are absent or non-consistent during adolescence. Marginalities such as poverty and racism take the family unit to the edge of society only serve to further the extent of the damage that adversity had already begun. Adolescents turn to crime and deviant activities in response to the Adversity and Marginalities experienced. The current research wishes to explore these special circumstances within the family unit; Vigil (2002) provides individual oral histories as examples of how particular adverse events as well as marginalities provided leeway for individuals to become involved in gangs/criminal activity. Vigil provides his Multiple Marginality framework to explain and explore why these individuals felt that a life of crime was necessary. Vigil (2007) goes on to mention that households with two parents (the nuclear family) help deter individuals away from gangs/criminal activity. But what happens when there are no parents available to provide stability and unity? Can other family members provide the needed family connections so that at-risk youths can lead successful lives and become resilient? Can Kinship supplement the parent/child relationship and the important ties that it brings? The current research project wishes to extend Vigil's train of thoughts about the strength of parent/child bonds and the ability of those connections to deter an individual away from gangs/criminal activity to Kin. The current project also wishes to extend Jenson and Fraser's resilience framework as well as Walsh's ideas of Family Resilience. The Martinez family is an excellent example of how Kinship ties can provide the supplemental relationship mentioned before; their lives have been filled with adversities (early deaths due to drug overdose) and marginalities (Ethnic Identity crisis, poverty and racism). Sharing their story with others in similar situations can provide hope and more importantly, a strategy in coping with such events so that they may overcome and lead successful lives.

Subject Area

Criminology|Individual & family studies

Recommended Citation

Maes, Angelique Nevarez, "The strength of family bonds: A look into the lives of a family that has overcome adversity and marginality" (2013). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1539965.