Friday, June 3, 2016
Regency B (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Extensive research suggests that authoritative parenting is associated with positive child outcomes while authoritarian parenting is associated with negative child outcomes. However, few studies have examined the roles of parental stress and parents’ own emotion regulation as determinants of parenting styles. There is also a shortage of parenting studies focusing on low-income Mexican American families with young children, a population with great need for family-based prevention services. The present study investigated the concurrent relations of parental stress and parental emotion regulation to parenting styles among low-income Mexican American mothers, and the associations between these parental factors and preschoolers’ psychological adjustment. Considering that Latino children are at high risk for developing internalizing and externalizing problems, identifying protective and risk factors for this vulnerable group is critical. Furthermore, research with Latino families has yielded inconsistent findings in regards to which parenting style is protective for children. Because how one copes with stress plays a significant role on its impact, we hypothesized that parents’ emotion regulation strategies would be associated with their parenting styles. Specifically, we predicted that reappraisal would be associated with authoritative parenting and suppression would be associated with authoritarian parenting. Based on social learning theory, we also predicted that parents’ use of reappraisal would directly and positively influence children’s psychological adjustment by modeling effective coping while parents’ use of suppression would directly and negatively impact children’s outcomes.
Forty Mexican American mothers of preschoolers (3-5 years of age, 60% girls) enrolled in Head Start programs in Northern California participated in a 3-hour interview in which they completed questionnaires on family demographics, parental stress (PSI), parental emotion regulation (ERQ), parenting styles (PSDQ), and their child’s behavioral adjustment (SDQ).
Multiple regression analyses found that controlling for demographics and parental stress, mothers’ reappraisal was associated with higher authoritative parenting. Authoritative parenting in turn, was associated with children’s higher prosocial behaviors and lower externalizing behaviors.
The findings suggest that parental emotion regulation may influence Mexican American children’s psychological adjustment through its impact on parenting styles above and beyond the impact of parental stress. Considering the significant amount of stressors faced by low-income Mexican American immigrant parents, family-based prevention programs serving this population should target parents’ own emotion regulation and stress management.