Methods: This study was a longitudinal secondary analysis of 6th grade youth (n = 92: n = 41 Hispanic-American; n = 51 European-American) and their mothers from the PROSPER dataset. Cluster analysis created patterns of parenting practices from combined mother- and youth-reported maternal monitoring, supervision, knowledge of youth activity, and communication. A series of mixed-factorial ANCOVAs were conducted. Two sets of models (gender, ethnicity) were run for each dependent variable (illicit substance use, substance use, attitudes toward substance use, and problem solving). Control variables included language version of materials (Spanish or English) and youth condition (experimental or control).
Results: Four types of parenting patterns were identified. Youths’ problem-solving remained stable over two years. Youth whose mothers had higher monitoring-related and communication practices reported steady and significantly higher problem solving over time. However, there were significant increases from pre-test to post-test in illicit substance use, substance use, and positive attitudes toward substance use. Significant increases in illicit substance use and substance use corresponded to youth whose mothers had patterns lower in supervision and communication than other patterns, while positive attitude increases corresponded to girls whose mothers had patterns lower in communication in comparison to boys. Girls also reported more instances of risky behaviors (illicit substance, substance use) than boys during 8th grade. Hispanic-American youth reported more risky behaviors (illicit substance use, substance use) at both time points than did the European-American cohort. Additional main effects and interactions were found in the models when stratified by gender or ethnicity.
Conclusions: Results highlighted that parenting patterns with at-risk diverse populations were similar across ethnic backgrounds. However, health disparities between ethnic minorities and their European-American counterparts existed. Specific parenting patterns may serve as risk or protective factors for youths’ risky behaviors. Special considerations need to be made in the future for youth ethnicity and gender because youth may be more at risk if there is poor household communication or supervision.