Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Risk, Conflict, Mothers' Parenting, and Children's Adjustment in Low-Income, Mexican Immigrant, and Mexican American Families

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Risk, Conflict, Mothers' Parenting, and Children's Adjustment in Low-Income, Mexican Immigrant, and Mexican American Families

Article excerpt

Structural equation modeling was used to test mothers' supportive parenting and inconsistent discipline practices as mediators of the effects of multiple risk factors and family conflict on children's conduct disorder and depression. Data were collected from 121 predominantly Spanishspeaking, low-income, Mexican immigrant and Mexican American families. Separate process models were tested for children's and mothers' reports. For children's reports, mothers' supportive parenting partially mediated the effects of family conflict on children's depression. For mothers' reports, inconsistent discipline practices fully mediated the influence of multiple risk factors on children's depression and partially mediated the influence of multiple risk factors on children's conduct disorder. Only children's reports showed direct effects between family conflict and children's conduct disorder and depression. Higher levels of maternal acculturation were related to lower levels of inconsistent discipline practices and less depression in children.

Key Words: acculturation, child adjustment, family conflict, Mexican Americans, parenting, reporter agreement.

Mexican Americans are the most rapidly growing ethnic group in the United States, particularly in the Southwest, and are overrepresented in lowincome categories (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1993). Yet there have been few studies of influences on parenting practices and children's adjustment in this population. As a result, there is little empirical basis for the development of preventive and therapeutic interventions for families of this ethnic group who are at risk or who have children with adjustment problems.

Low-income, predominantly Spanish-speaking, Mexican immigrant and Mexican American families represent a particular developmental niche or context for children in the U.S. Developmental niche, conceptualized by Super and Harkness (1986), refers to children's immediate, culturally structured environments and the effects these environments have on children's development. Three components of developmental niches are physical and social settings, culturally influenced customs and interactions (e.g., childrearing practices), and individual characteristics of children and their caretakers (e.g., psychological characteristics). These components interact dynamically, can be in accord or discord, and are regulated by homeostatic mechanisms to maintain stability (Harkness & Super, 1995). The family, as a developmental niche, is also an open system that interacts across its boundary with its surrounding contexts. The family is influenced by these contexts and, at the same time, exerts an impact on them (Bronfenbrenner, 1989; Lerner, Castellino, Terry, Villarruel, & McKinney, 1995). This study delineates some of the processes operating in the developmental niches of children in low-income, predominantly Spanish-speaking, Mexican immigrant and Mexican American families. More specifically, we wanted to determine whether mothers' parenting practices mediated the effects of the risk factors that these families experience and family conflict on children's adjustment.

Research conducted mostly with groups other than Mexican Americans has identified various risk factors in children's and adolescents' contexts that increase the likelihood of adjustment problems (Hawkins, Catalano, & Miller, 1992). Certainly, one of the most salient of these risk factors is poverty and the accompanying financial strain on all family members (Anderson, Williams, McGee, & Silva, 1989; Costello, 1989; Farrington et al., 1990). However, it is the number of risk factors that a family experiences rather than any single risk factor like poverty that best predicts children's developmental outcomes (Rutter, 1990; Sameroff, Seifer, Zax, & Barocas, 1987). Families experiencing multiple risk factors (e.g., financial hardship, low maternal education, maternal depression) or numerous negative life events (e. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.