Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Incongruent Teen Pregnancy Attitudes, Coparenting Conflict, and Support among Mexican-Origin Adolescent Mothers

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Incongruent Teen Pregnancy Attitudes, Coparenting Conflict, and Support among Mexican-Origin Adolescent Mothers

Article excerpt

In light of the challenges associated with adolescent motherhood (e.g., limited resources, risk of school dropout, low preparation for child rearing), researchers have emphasized the critical role of social support as a protective factor for this at-risk population (e.g., Letourneau, Stewart, & Barnfather, 2004). Despite positive associations between social support and adolescent mothers' mental health (Brown, Harris, Woods, Bauman, & Cox, 2012), their parenting competencies (Jahromi, Guimond, Umaña-Taylor, Updegraff, & Toomey, 2014), and their offspring's developmental outcomes (Huang, Costeines, Kaufman, & Ayala, 2014), limited work has examined processes that inform adolescent mothers' perceptions of social support during the early years of parenting. Social support may be particularly important to understand among Mexican-origin adolescent females because they have the highest birthrate of all U.S. ethnic groups (Martin, Hamilton, Osterman, Curtin, & Mathews, 2013). Prior work has noted the importance of congruent beliefs and interdependence between Latina adolescent mothers and their own mothers (Cabrera, Shannon, & Jolley-Mitchell, 2013; Contreras, López, Rivera-Mosquera, Raymond-Smith, & Rothstein, 1999); in addition, research has suggested that attitudes toward the status benefits of parenthood (i.e., perceptions of a shift in power or admiration from the community as a result of becoming a parent as a teenager) may facilitate teen mothers' transition into parenthood (East & Chien, 2010) and organize family dynamics (Rao, McHale, & Pearson, 2003). As such, the current study sought to understand how discrepancies between adolescents' and mothers' attitudes toward teen pregnancy status before the birth of the baby may pose a risk for family dynamics and adolescent mothers' resources (i.e., social support) postpartum.

The coparenting relationship that Mexicanorigin adolescent mothers establish with their own mothers (referred to hereafter as grandmothers) is an important family dynamic, given the strong emphasis on family within Latino cultures (Cauce & Domenech-Rodríguez, 2002), as well as research suggesting that Latina adolescent mothers' sense of familism promotes dependence on and receptivity to coparenting with grandmothers (Contreras, 2004). Coparenting refers to collaborative child-rearing efforts, or the ways that parental figures interact to fulfill the role of parents (McHale, Lauretti, Talbot, & Pouquette, 2002) and it has been identified as important for adolescent mothers' adaptation to parenthood (Pittman & Coley, 2011).

Coparenting conflict with grandmothers is one aspect of the coparenting relationship that has been linked to lower psychosocial functioning among White and African American adolescent mothers (e.g., depressive symptoms; Caldwell, Antonucci, & Jackson, 1998), and mothers' psychological functioning has been linked to poor developmental outcomes for their offspring (Leadbeater, Bishop, & Raver, 1996). Associations between coparenting conflict and adolescent mothers' resources, such as social support received from grandmothers, however, are not well understood among Mexican-origin adolescent mothers. Given that ethnic minority adolescent mothers are at high risk for maladjustment following pregnancy (e.g., depressive symptoms; Schmidt, Wiemann, Rickert, & Smith, 2006) and that social support from grandmothers has been identified as a direct resource and a potential buffer against adolescent mothers' maladjustment (Huang et al., 2014), it is important to understand how attitudes and coparenting conflict may inform the quality of social support received among this high-risk group. Guided by family systems theory (S. Minuchin, 1974), we examined how differences between Mexican-origin adolescent mothers' and grandmothers' attitudes on the status attained through teen pregnancy informed adolescent mother- grandmother coparental conflict and, in turn, adolescent mothers' social support from grandmothers. …

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