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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Latinx Immigrant Parent-Child Relationships: An Intergenerational Model of Cohesion, Conflict and Mental Health

  • Author(s): Santacrose, Diana Evdoxia
  • Advisor(s): Kia-Keating, Maryam
  • et al.

In the United States, one fifth of school-aged children are Latinx, a majority who are first or second generation immigrants (Pew Hispanic Center, 2009). Given the rise in this population of Latinx immigrant youth, scholars recommend the need to develop a more in-depth understanding of influences contributing to deleterious mental health outcomes for Latinx immigrant families (Ornelas & Perreira, 2011). Among these, include family processes, such as family conflict. Latinx immigrant youth and parents often experience stress and family conflict (Lau, McCabe, Yeh, Garland, Wood, & Hough, 2005), impacting family cohesion (Leidy et al., 2010), and mental health outcomes (Hovey & King, 1996). There is also a dearth of research that studies typical parenting practices among immigrant populations (Perreira, Chapman, & Stein, 2006). Utilizing community-based participatory research and mixed methods approaches, the current study extends this line of research by examining family cohesion, family conflict, and parent-child relationships in the presence of a multitude of stressors. Moreover, the current study investigated the relationships between parents’ mental health, family cohesion, family conflict and youths’ depression. To examine these relationships the current study used focus groups with 64 immigrant parents, and a battery of measures with 38 parent-youth dyads who were predominantly from Mexico.

Based on focus group results we developed an integrated theoretical model of family cohesion, family conflict and parent-child relationships that includes four common parent-child interactions Mexican immigrant families engaged in when facing stressors. Results also indicated significant differences in parents’ and youths’ reports of family cohesion and family conflict. Family cohesion and family conflict were both significantly related to youths’ and parents’ depression. However, parents’ depression was not found to moderate the relationships between family cohesion/family conflict and youths’ depression. Implications for Latinx immigrant prevention and intervention efforts will be discussed.

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