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Consejos: A Closer Look at Parental Advice Heard By Latino Adolescents

  • Author(s): Jonas, Michele
  • Advisor(s): Holloway, Susan
  • et al.

Giving advice, or consejos, has emerged from the qualitative literature as a culturally based parent involvement (PI) strategy used by Latino families. However, previous studies have only examined this practice in small samples of parents and children. One aim of this dissertation was to examine the consejos that were heard by adolescent children in a wider population than previously studied. Based on the assumption that parents might shift their advice-giving practices depending on the resources that are available to them as well as the characteristics of their child, another aim of the study was to examine whether the messages that adolescents heard varied depending on the constraints and allowances in their proximal environments (i.e., resources in the school, from parents, and capabilities within the student). Special attention was paid to the context of the relationship of parent and child as a key factor that might influence the type of messages parents relayed and how their children received them. Another goal was to investigate adolescents’ perceptions of the consejos they heard, namely, whether they found them useful as they navigated high school and whether these perceptions changed when there were variations in the adolescents’ resources. Participants included 240 Latino adolescents from two urban high schools in Northern California. A new instrument was developed based on previous qualitative studies to assess the types of consejos that students heard and how useful they found them. Overall, the adolescents reported hearing many of the consejo messages and found them fairly useful in helping them do their best at school. Closeness to a parent (or other adult in the family) was the main contextual factor associated with how many messages adolescents heard overall and in several content domains. Varying resources at the school, parent, and student levels were associated with how useful students perceived the different types of consejos. This study contributes new information about how widespread different kinds of consejos are in a much larger sample than previously studied. It also sheds light on the dynamic nature of cultural practices and the diversity among Latino families by showing that variations in structural and individual resources were associated with differences in how consejos were given and received.

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