ECOLOGICAL DETERMINANTS OF PARENTING PRACTICES AMONG LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN MOTHERS OF ADOLESCENTS: FINDINGS FROM THE NEW IMMIGRANT SURVEY

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2007-08-02

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Abstract

Latin American and Caribbean immigrants are the fastest growing immigrants in the United States. Prior studies suggest that Latin American and Caribbean immigrant families in the U.S. face a number of risk factors including poverty, linguistic barriers, and mental health problems. Growing concern exists about the factors affecting the development of Latino and Caribbean immigrant adolescents. Moreover, a separate literature indicates that new immigrant Latin American and Caribbean families may face particular challenges in parenting their children within a new environment. Few studies include Latina and Caribbean mothers of adolescents; or examine the influence of various contextual factors on the parenting behavior of new immigrants. This study addresses these limitations through the use of a cultural-ecological framework to explore the relationship between three selected ecological factors and parenting practices of Latina and Caribbean immigrant mothers of early and late adolescents.

Data are drawn from a subset of 415 Latina and Caribbean mothers of an adolescent child age 10 to 17 in the New Immigrant Survey (NIS-2003). Multiple linear regression analyses were conducted to examine hypothesized models testing the relationship between maternal acculturation, extended-family coresidence, and religious involvement and parenting practices.

After controlling for demographic characteristics, the findings revealed that one measure of maternal acculturation, years of U.S. residence, was related to lower use of cognitive stimulating activities and strict punishment discipline, as well as less parental school involvement. A second measure of maternal acculturation, English proficiency, was associated with lower use of cognitive stimulating activities, but greater parental school involvement. Greater maternal religious involvement was related to less emotional support, less parental school involvement, and more cognitive stimulation. All three ecological factors were unrelated to positive control discipline. The findings also revealed differences among adjustee mothers and new-arrival mothers. Implications for research and culturally appropriate interventions for Latin American and Caribbean families and their children are discussed.

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