182439 Youth Problem Behaviors and Parent-Child Acculturation Gaps in Latino Immigrant Families

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 9:42 AM

Flavio Francisco Marsiglia, PhD , Social Work, AZ State University, Phoenix, AZ
Stephen S. Kulis, PhD , Sociology, AZ State University, Phoenix, AZ
Blythe FitzHarris, MSW , Social Work, AZ State University, Phoenix, AZ
David Becerra, MSW , Social Work, AZ State University, Phoenix, AZ
This study examines acculturation differences between Latino parents and adolescents and their association with adolescent problem behaviors. Acculturation has been identified as a risk for substance use, parent-child conflicts, and other problem-behaviors. In general, parents acculturate more slowly than their children. Parent-child acculturation gaps may increase the incidence of these health-threatening adolescent outcomes.

We utilized baseline data from the CDC-funded Latino Acculturation and Health Project. The participants were 151 mother-adolescent dyads of Mexican-heritage. Parent and adolescent acculturation were assessed jointly based on the Bicultural Involvement Questionnaire. Four distinct groups emerged: adolescent more acculturated than parent; parent more acculturated than adolescent ; both bicultural, and both “separationists.”

Regression analyses controlling for youth's age, gender, school-grades, and mother's education indicated that acculturation gaps predicted youth problem-behaviors as measured by the Child Behavior Checklist (CBC) and substance use measures, but the direction of the gap was unexpected. Compared to bicultural dyads, only youth with more acculturated parents demonstrated increased rates of problem behaviors and the highest level of perceived ethnic discrimination. The “separationist” dyads demonstrated protective effects of attachment to origin culture and reported less alcohol use, less acculturation related conflict, and higher familism. Possible explanations for the findings where parents were more acculturated than their adolescents are that they may reflect parent-child differences in their perceptions of the success of their adjustment to U.S. society, differential exposure to ethnic discrimination, and a gap in arrival to the U.S. (child arriving later than their parent).

Learning Objectives:
1) Apply a method for classifying Latino immigrant adolescents and their mothers in terms of their joint acculturation status 2) Identify the distribution of Latino adolescents into categories of expereince of a parent-child acculturation gap 3) Assess the effects of parent-child acculturation gap on youth problem behaviors such as conduct disorder and oppositional defiance

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a professor of social work and I am co-principal investigator of the NIH-funded project from which the presented data come.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.