Academic journal article Social Work

Parenting Practices among Dominican and Puerto Rican Mothers

Academic journal article Social Work

Parenting Practices among Dominican and Puerto Rican Mothers

Article excerpt

To date, there have been relatively few empirical studies of parenting practices among Latino families. Family-based research has paid too little attention to potential variation in culturally based parenting practices (Amato & Fowler, 2002; Hill, Bush, & Roosa, 2003; Ruiz, Roosa, & Gonzales, 2002; Zayas & Solari, 1994). The limitations of current research in addressing ethnic diversity may lead to a depiction of Latino parenting practices in the context of a social-deficit model. Existing studies of Latino parenting practices have yielded inconsistent findings (Martinez, 1999; Solis-Camara & Fox, 1996). For example, some studies have found Latino parents to be authoritarian, overly directive, and disciplinarian with their children (Cardona, Nicholson, & Fox, 2000; Schulze, Harwood, Schoelmerich, & Leyendecker, 2002; Steinberg, Dornbusch, & Brown, 1992). By contrast, other studies have noted the warmth and closeness that characterize Latino parenting (Calzada & Eyberg, 2002; Julian, McKenry, & McKelvey, 1994; Molina & Chassin, 1996; Raffaelli & Green, 2003). Some have suggested that Latino and white parents are more similar than they are different (Fox & Solis-Camara, 1997; Lindahl & Malik, 1999; Medora, Wilson, & Larson, 2001), especially those at comparable socioeconomic levels (Solis-Camara & Fox; Uno, Florsheim, & Uchino, 1998). Despite the rapid growth of the Latino population in the United States, which is expected to reach one-quarter of the population by 2050, the role of Latino culture in understanding the parenting practices of Latino families has remained largely understudied.

This descriptive, qualitative study integrates the uniquely Latino cultural constructs of familismo, respeto, personalismo, and simpatia, and the gender roles of machismo and marianismo, with the parenting domains of demandingness and responsiveness conceptualized by Baumrind (1983, 1987, 1991). We used these Latino cultural constructs in an open hut structured focus group format to elicit insights about how Dominican and Puerto Rican mothers and their adolescents identify parental control and warmth in their relationships.

PARENTING STYLES

The term "parenting practices" can be distinguished from parenting style. This study considers parenting style the set of culturally derived parental attitudes that create the emotional climate in which a child develops (Darling & Steinberg, 1993). Parenting style evolves from implicit and explicit beliefs, values, and goals held by the parent. Parenting practices can be viewed as specific parent behaviors directed toward the child. A parent who follows a stricter style in such areas as family communication, adolescent participation in household tasks, or maintenance of a certain grade point average in school would differ in his or her paternal or maternal behaviors from a parent who espouses a more lenient style. Specific practices such as mealtime routines or birthday customs can be considered manifestations of parenting style that occur in the general family context.

Research on parenting is often associated with the seminal work of psychologist Diana Baumrind. Baumrind's (1991, 1996) typology established two parenting style domains: demandingness and responsiveness. Parental demandingness connotes parental supervision, monitoring, discipline, limit setting, and expectations the parent has of the child. Parental responsiveness refers to parental warmth, acceptance, involvement, and communication and the respect and receptivity with which the parent regards the child's perspective and needs (Pratt, Arnold, Pratt, & Diessner, 1999). Baumrind (1983, 1987, 1991) concluded that authoritative parents--those who practice high levels of both demandingness and responsiveness--are most effective in instilling confidence and competence in their sons and daughters. Contrasted with adolescents of authoritarian parents who only emphasize obedience or permissive parents who allow too much liberty, adolescents of authoritative parents who balance appropriate levels of supervision, nurturance, and democratic decision making achieve better psychosocial outcomes (Darling & Steinberg, 1993; Kurdek & Fine, 1994; Steinberg, Lamborn, Darling, Mounts, & Dornbusch, 1994; Steinberg & Silk, 2002). …

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