Date of Award

Summer 8-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication & Theatre Arts


Lifespan and Digital Communication

Committee Director

Thomas J. Socha

Committee Member

Gary A. Beck

Committee Member

Brendan O’Hallarn


Although “communication competence” may be considered a trans-cultural concept, its unique meanings and practices across cultures have yet to be studied. Communication between parents and children in African households, for example, have often been associated with a restive and high level of control. Specifically in Nigerian households, a major critique of parenting communication styles is the necessity of continually seeking the permissions of a patriarchal and hierarchical family structure. When families immigrate, parents and children alike must navigate learning to communicate in the new culture while also seeking to preserve their culture of origin. Past research shows that adult immigrant children acculturate quickly and in doing so may also create parent-child communication problems as they seek to communicate with their comparatively reticent to acculturate parents. This thesis theorizes that the roots of some immigrant parent-child communication difficulties may lie in how immigrant adult children are understanding the concept of “competent communication” as they acculturate. This study addresses this problem by reporting the results of a qualitative, exploratory study of Nigerian immigrant adult children’s understandings of “communication competence” within the context of parent-child relationships. The results of the study found that Nigerian immigrant adult children perceive communication competence in the US as freedom to express themselves without judgment, contrasting the more restrictive communication in Nigerian communities. American culture's openness on topics like mental health is admired, while Nigerian parents are seen as controlling. The hierarchical nature of Nigerian culture hinders open expression. Generational differences shape parents' communication style, and respect is highly valued. Academic success is prioritized, reflecting good parenting. Education is highly valued, and sacrifices are made for children's success. Cultural dynamics and generational differences impact communication competence in Nigerian immigrant families in the US.


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