Stress and Parental Characteristics as
Predictors of Children's Problems in Mexican American
and European American Families
are numerous cultural and ethnic variations in the U.S. Many of
these variations are associated with economic differences, as
well as with differences in acculturation and in the length of
time families have lived in the U.S. Hispanic people constitute
the largest U. S. ethnic minority group, and Mexican Americans
are the largest Hispanic group. Many Mexican American children
live in families with relatively short histories in the U.S. and
relatively low incomes. To assess the associations of income level,
economic stress, and parental characteristics with children's
problems, Parke et al. (2004) used structural equation analyses
to test a family stress model for 167 Mexican American families
and 111 European American families and their 5th grade children.
All families resided in California and included both parents.
Children's problems were assessed with the CBCL completed separately
by each parent. Most of the Mexican American parents elected to
complete Latino Spanish translations of the forms. Internalizing
and Externalizing scores from the CBCLs completed by a child's
mother and father were combined to provide a total score for the
child's problems. Analysis of numerous variables revealed the
following associations: (a) Economic hardship was linked to economic
pressure that was, in turn, linked to depressive symptoms in mothers
and fathers of both ethnic groups; (b) depressive symptoms were
linked to marital problems and hostile parenting; and (c) hostile
parenting by fathers predicted high CBCL problem scores among
European Americans, whereas marital problems predicted high CBCL
problem scores among Mexican Americans. The most highly acculturated
Mexican American mothers tended to report the highest levels of
marital problems but the lowest levels of hostile parenting. The
authors concluded that "as maternal acculturation increased,
the level of both maternal and paternal hostile parenting decreased.
The decrease is consistent with an increased awareness of alternative
disciplinary strategies that are less harsh and punitive, such
as reasoning, love withdrawal, and loss of privileges" (p.
Reference: Parke, R.D., Coltrane, S., Duffy, S., Buriel,
R., Dennis, J., Powers, J., French, S., & Widaman, K. F. (2004).
Economic stress, parenting, and child adjustment in Mexican American
and European American families. Child Development, 75,