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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Acculturation Gaps in Latino Families: Prospective Family Mediators Associated with Child Outcomes

  • Author(s): Toro, Rosa Irene
  • Advisor(s): Guerra, Nancy G
  • et al.

Acculturation presents several unique challenges that can influence the well-being of immigrant children and families. Previous research indicates that members of the same family tend to acculturate at different rates, with children acculturating faster than their parents, creating a parent-child acculturation gap (Phinney, Ong, & Madden, 2000; Szapocznik & Truss, 1978). There are many inconsistencies in regarding the potentially negative impact of the acculturation gap; in part, this may be due to variations in how acculturation is operationalized; on the other hand, it may also speak to the need to include and assess proposed mechanisms by which the acculturation gap may have a negative impact on children. This investigation examined the effect of overall acculturation and specific values gaps on child outcomes and family functioning. Additionally, the mediating effect of family functioning was examined in order to identify potential mechanisms by which gaps influence child social, emotional, and behavioral competencies. The sample included 89 immigrant Latino parent and adolescent dyads from the Southern California area. Along with examining overall acculturation, participants reported on their adherence to core Latino values such as: familism, respect and traditional gender roles. The family functioning constructs measured included: passive/inconsistent parenting, parental monitoring, accepting parenting, nurturing parenting practices, parental monitoring and parentification. Finally, child outcomes included: self-control, social decision making, moral system of belief, positive sense of self, prosocial connectedness, depression and aggression. Overall, the results were consistent with the current state of the acculturation gap literature. Findings indicated that overall acculturation gaps were not significantly associated to any of the child outcomes or family functioning. On the other hand, gaps on Latino values demonstrated to have negative effects on some child outcomes and family functioning. For example, familism-support was associated with low positive sense of self, low prosocial connectedness, depression, aggression, low parental monitoring, low accepting parenting, and low nurturing parenting. Finally, family functioning demonstrated to be a significant mediator for some gaps and outcomes. Specifically, familism-support was found to indirectly affect adolescent moral system of belief via accepting parenting. In light of the results, limitations, implications and suggestions for future directions are discussed.

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