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Disentangling acculturation and enculturation intergenerational gaps: Examining mother–youth value discrepancies and mental health among Mexican‐descent college students



To test the acculturation gap hypothesis by examining mother-youth value discrepancies (both acculturative and enculturative) and their association with mother-youth acculturative conflict and youth mental health outcomes.


Participants were 273 Mexican descent college students attending a large, public, Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) in West Texas (72% women). The participants' ages ranged 18-25 years (M = 19.33 years; SD = 1.54 years).


Three models assessed the relationship between mother-youth value discrepancies and mental health outcomes (suicidal ideation, non-suicidal self-injury, and depressive symptoms) as mediated by mother-youth acculturative conflict. Consistently, Mexican heritage cultural values were related to mental health outcomes while American cultural values were not.


The study found that increased mother-youth discrepancies on Mexican cultural values were associated with increased negative mental health outcomes. Our findings suggest that adopting or learning new mainstream American values does not substitute for the Mexican cultural values that protect against negative outcomes.

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