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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Familial Stress, Latino Parental Involvement, and Adolescent Academic Socialization

  • Author(s): Camacho, Daisy Estela
  • Advisor(s): Fuligni, Andrew J
  • et al.

Given the size and rapid growth of Latinos—and that they tend to fall behind academically—it is important to understand factors that contribute to achievement. This dissertation seeks to contextualize parental academic behaviors by examining the role of stress and family dynamics in their involvement. The first study examines how stress may interfere with the academic involvement Mexican-origin parents provide for their adolescents. Parents of ninth and tenth grade students from two high schools in Los Angeles (N = 428) completed quantitative interviews. Results revealed that chronic stress (i.e., financial strain) predicted less involvement at school—and that acute stressors (i.e., major family life events) predicted less involvement at home, even after controlling for demographics and the other stressor in each model. Furthermore, this study found that these associations were mediated by lower levels of emotional support to adolescents, but not conflict in the home or parental distress (i.e., depressive symptoms and somatic symptoms). Findings suggest that the reason that stress is associated with lower levels of involvement is because stress may limit the positive relationship quality between parents and adolescents. The second study examined parental involvement in organized after-school activities—as these are beneficial to academic achievement, but Latino students tend to be under-involved. Latino adolescents and their caretakers (N = 154) sampled from four middle schools across the Phoenix-area completed quantitative interviews. Linear regressions controlling for demographics and achievement revealed that parental support—instrumental support, verbal encouragement and activity involvement (e.g., talking to the activity leader)—was linked with adolescent reports of motivation and participation in their organized after-school activity. Furthermore, parental support was associated with higher adolescent motivation in families that reported more chaos—suggesting the importance of parental involvement, especially in disadvantaged families. By acknowledging the salient role of family and stressors in the lives of Latino families, this dissertation contributes to a more complete understanding of the ways families strive to develop academic resilience

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