Mexican American Adolescents' Family Caregiving: Selection Effects and Longitudinal Associations with Adjustment

By East, Patricia L.; Weisner, Thomas S. | Family Relations, December 2009 | Go to article overview

Mexican American Adolescents' Family Caregiving: Selection Effects and Longitudinal Associations with Adjustment


East, Patricia L., Weisner, Thomas S., Family Relations


One hundred ten Mexican American adolescents (12-17 years) who provide infant care for their older sisters were studied to determine the effects of family caregiving responsibilities on adolescents' adjustment. Controlling for prior adjustment and family context factors, providing many hours of caregiving predicted an increase in youths' school absences and disciplinary problems. Frequent conflict surrounding caregiving was associated with increased stress and depression and lower school grades. Older girls appear to select into caregiving and experience the most problematic outcomes. Strong family obligations were not protective against caregiving stress but, rather, further compromised youths' well-being for those who were highly involved in their family's care.

Key Words: family caregiving, family obligations, Mexican-American adolescents, siblings of teenage parents, teenage parents.

Understanding how family caregiving affects youth is highly significant given that recent estimates are that 1.4 million U.S. children and adolescents provide some type of care to a family member (National Alliance for Caregiving, 2005). The ramifications of family caregiving for adolescents' development are not well understood (East, in press). There is, however, an emerging literature that is beginning to consider how excessive family caretaking responsibilities on the part of youth may affect developmental outcomes (Burton, 2007; Dodson & Dickert, 2004). Indeed, large amounts of adolescents' family caregiving (helping parents, grandparents, or siblings with daily living assistance tasks such as bathing, dressing, and feeding 20 hours or more a week) have been found to be associated with children's stress, depression, and school absences (Pakenham, Bursnall, Chiù, Cannon, & Okochi, 2006; Shifren & Kachorek, 2003). Results of two large studies, one in the United States and one in the United Kingdom, indicated that youth who care for a family member experience significantly more anxiety, antisocial behavior, and feelings of low self-worth than noncaregivers of comparable age and racial background (Dearden & Becker, 2000; National Alliance for Caregiving). Within Great Britain, young caregivers missed school significantly more often than other children and reported feeling stressed and depressed (Aldridge & Becker, 1993). In contrast, other studies have suggested that youths' family care yields developmental benefits, such as maturity, self-reliance, and empathy (Beach, 1997; Chase-Lansdale, Wakschlag, & Brooks-Gunn, 1 995). Adolescents' helpfulness in the home and involvement in general family household tasks have also been found to contribute to positive self-esteem and feelings of interpersonal competence (Beach; Call, 1996; Kuperminc, Jurkovic, & Casey, 2009).

In this study, we examined the relations between Mexican American adolescents' family caregiving and their adjustment. As a form of family care, we examined the caretaking youth provide to their teenage sister's infant. Infant care provided by the siblings of a teenage parent is a common and often necessary response and is typically favored over other strategies because it is convenient, affordable, and best utilizes available family personnel (East, Weisner, & Reyes, 2006; East, Weisner, & Slonim, in press). Sibling-provided infant care is an important issue for Latino families because Latinos currently have the highest teenage birthrate of any racial/ethnic group (Martin et al., 2009), and most parenting Latina teens remain with their family of origin after they give birth (Manlove, Mariner, & Papillo, 2000). Infant care is likely different from other forms of children's family caregiving (i.e., caring for a sick, disabled, or elderly parent or grandparent) in that one is caring for a cuddly, beautiful baby. Infant caretaking can be highly enjoyable, rewarding, and amusing. It can also be quite labor-intensive and emotionally stressful, however (Cowan & Cowan, 2000). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Mexican American Adolescents' Family Caregiving: Selection Effects and Longitudinal Associations with Adjustment
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.