Category: Parenting / Families


Cultural Context and Authoritarian Parenting in Mexican-origin Mothers

Friday, November 17
3:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Location: Sapphire Ballroom O & P, Level 4, Sapphire Level

Keywords: Parenting | Hispanic Americans | Parent Training
Presentation Type: Symposium

Background. Latino parenting has been found to vary according to acculturation, or the degree to which a parent has adapted to mainstream cultural norms, behaviors and beliefs. Specifically, acculturated Latina mothers appear to be more authoritative, relying on firm but non-harsh discipline, compared with less acculturated mothers, who appear to be more authoritarian given their reliance on harsh discipline. This approach has been interpreted according to cultural norms; while mainstream U.S. American culture values a more childcentric approach to childrearing that emphasizes children's independence. Traditional Latino culture values a more hierarchical approach that emphasizes children's obedience. But parenting is shaped by a number of contextual variables, including child characteristics, parents’ psychological resources, and sources of stress and support. In Latino families, then, authoritarian parenting may be observed more among mothers who experience stressors (e.g., discrimination, acculturative stress) and depression related to their marginalized immigrant status. Yet these determinants of parenting remain largely unexplored in the empirical literature with Latino families, though they are normative experiences for both immigrant and later-generation Latinos. The present study examined links between cultural stressors and authoritarian parenting, mediated by maternal depression.

Methods and Results. Data was drawn from a study of 175 Mexican-origin (63% foreign-born) mothers of 3 – 6 year old children. Mothers reported on their experiences of cultural values, discrimination, acculturative stress, depression, and parenting practices. Discrimination and acculturative stress were associated with depression, and depression was associated with more authoritarian parenting. Stronger adherence to Latino cultural values moderated all significant associations; the relation between cultural stressors and depression, and between depression and authoritarian parenting, was stronger among mothers high in cultural values.

Conclusions. Parenting programs that target authoritarian practices with Latina mothers should take into account cultural context, including values that drive the selection of harsh discipline, and experiences of acculturative stress and discrimination that may lead to increased reliance on harsh discipline. In addition, given the association between cultural stressors and depression, maternal mental health may be warranted as an initial focus of intervention.

Esther Calzada

Associate Professor
University of Texas at Austin


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Cultural Context and Authoritarian Parenting in Mexican-origin Mothers

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