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Uniendo Familias Latinas: Testing the Spillover Hypothesis With Latino Mothers and Fathers


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Consistent with the spillover hypothesis, previous research has found support for the benefits of a healthy marital relationship on the parent–child relationship. However, there is a paucity of research on whether and how marital functioning may be associated with parent–child relationship quality among ethnically diverse populations. In an attempt to address this research gap, the current study tested the effectiveness of a community-based program to improve couple relationship skills and the impact of this program on the parent–child relationship. The study used an extant data set of assessment data from this community-based relationship skills–building program targeting Latino individuals in low-income communities and focused on participants who endorsed being in a marital relationship and having at least one child ( N = 655). Results demonstrated that marital quality increased after participating in the program provided. More importantly, an increase in marital quality was associated with change in parenting quality for both Latino mothers and fathers, supporting the spillover hypothesis. Findings supported the overall effectiveness of the relationship skills–building program to improve marital relationship quality for participating Latino individuals but also suggested the potential benefits of improved parent–child relationship quality.
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This is the final accepted version of the following article:
Mendez, P., Rueger, S. Y., Yoo, H., & Garcia, M. C. (2021). Uniendo Familias Latinas: Testing the
Spillover Hypothesis With Latino Mothers and Fathers. The Family Journal, 29(4), 434–441.
Uniendo Familias Latinas:
Testing the Spillover Hypothesis with Latino Mothers and Fathers
Priscilla Mendez, Sandra Yu Rueger, Hana Yoo, & Maria Cornejo Garcia
Wheaton College
Corresponding Author:
Sandra Yu Rueger
School of Psychology, Counseling, and Family Therapy
Wheaton College
Wheaton, IL 60187
630-752-5753 (telephone)
630-752-7033 (fax)
Consistent with the spillover hypothesis, previous research has found support for the benefits of
a healthy marital relationship on the parent-child relationship. However, there is a paucity of
research on whether and how marital functioning may be associated with parent-child
relationship quality among ethnically diverse populations. In an attempt to address this research
gap, the current study tested the effectiveness of a community-based program to improve couple
relationship skills, and the impact of this program on the parent-child relationship. The study
used an extant dataset of assessment data from this community-based relationship skills-building
program targeting Latino individuals in low-income communities and focused on participants
who endorsed being in a marital relationship and having at least one child (N=655). Results
demonstrated that marital quality increased after participating in the program provided. More
importantly, an increase in marital quality was associated with change in parenting quality for
both Latino mothers and fathers, supporting the spillover hypothesis. Findings supported the
overall effectiveness of the relationship skills-building program to improve marital relationship
quality for participating Latino individuals, but also suggested the potential benefits of improved
parent-child relationship quality.
Keywords: marital relationship, parent-child relationship, Latino, spillover hypothesis
Uniendo Familias Latinas:
Testing the Spillover Hypothesis with Latino Mothers and Fathers
Theory and research suggest that the quality of a couple’s relationship has significant
implications for the whole family’s functioning, thus affecting parenting, sibling relationships,
and child outcomes (Mikulincer et al., 2002). However, there is a paucity of research about ways
in which a healthy couple relationship can impact family functioning among ethnically diverse
populations. The current study attempts to expand the family literature by examining the
spillover hypothesis, the idea that the functioning of one family subsystem will affect the
functioning of another subsystem, in a sample of Latino individuals participating in a
community-based relationship skills-building program. In general, Latinos are known to be
family oriented and highly value the significance of close relationships, interdependence,
cohesiveness, and mutual support among all family members (Santiago-Rivera et al., 2002). For
this reason, findings of this study would add to the research literature by expanding the
knowledge of how Latino individuals’ marital relationship quality is associated with the health of
the larger family system, particularly their parenting effectiveness.
Latino Families
Latinos in the United States represent a wide variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds,
each with their own cultural identities, historical background, and patterns of migration (Ennis et
al., 2011). Latino populations highly value family cohesiveness and interdependence (Santiago-
Rivera et al., 2002), and family plays a leading role within the Latino culture, lifestyle, and the
family system. Research has shown that Latinos heavily rely on family members for material
and emotional support and are loyal to members in their immediate and extended family (Kapke
et al., 2017). Familism, also known as familismo, has been used to define this commitment to
family and a sense of connectedness within the family, both immediate and extended.
Familism, considered to be the most influential value in the Latino culture (Zinn, 1982),
reflects the strong emphasis on the family, a deep sense of belongingness and responsibility to
one’s family, and a tendency to prioritize the family’s needs over one’s individual interests
(Sabogal, Marín, Otero-Sabogal, Marín, & Pérez-Stable, 1987). Steidel and Contreras (2003)
define familism as having four major components: (a) belief that family comes before the
individual, (b) familial interconnectedness, (c) belief in family reciprocity, and (d) belief in
familial honor. Much of the existing literature on Latinos has shown that familism can influence
a child’s overall well-being in various aspects of their life, such as positive school performance
and decrease of behavioral problems (Calzada et al., 2014). Familism also has been associated
with lower levels of parent-child conflict and higher levels of resiliency and enhanced self
esteem (Kuhlberg et al., 2010). Overall, familism helps define and secure roles for all in a family
system and serves as an important protective factor in Latino families.
Marital Relationships and Parenting
In the family literature, the marital relationship has been consistently discussed as the
core subsystem that significantly influences the overall quality of a family’s functioning and
relational health (see Erel & Burman, 1995 for a review). For example, Belsky (1981) suggested
that parenting both affects and is affected by the child, and the parenting relationship both affects
and is affected by the marital relationship. This transactional interaction between a couples’
relationship and the parent-child relationship is consistent with the spillover hypothesis, which
posits that the mood, affect, or behavior of a person can transfer from one setting to the next
(Almeida et al., 1999; Repetti, 1987).
Consistent with the family systems approaches, it has been proposed and supported that
this spillover occurs in families when tension, negative interactions, or conflict within the marital
relationship is shifted towards tension, negative interactions, or conflict in the parent-child
relationship (Erel & Burman, 1995). More recent studies have also found that the conflictual
interactions between parents, such as aggression and hostility (Moore & Florsheim, 2008) and
conflict (Cabrera et al., 2011), as well as marital dissatisfaction (Krishnakumar & Buehler,
2000), were predictive of less desirable parenting practices, including less involvement in
caregiving (Cabrera et al., 2011) and an overly strict parenting style and disapproval
(Krishnakumar & Buehler, 2000).
Research on the association between marital and parent-child relationships among
ethnically diverse populations has yielded mixed findings. Some studies have demonstrated that
the marital relationship affects parenting abilities and the quality of the parent-child relationship
among racially and ethnically diverse groups (Gonzales et al., 2000; Zvara et al., 2015).
However, other studies have suggested that ethnic minority families may be less susceptible to
the negative impacts of marital conflict due to their high reliability on extended family members
and cultural values (i.e., familism) that may prevent the spillover from happening within the
family (e.g., McLoyd et al., 2001). Interestingly, although an early meta analysis on the inter-
relatedness of the marital and and parent-child relationship demonstrated similar results across
mothers and fathers (Erel &Burman, 1995), more recent studies have demonstrated gender
differences in spillover effects in the family. For example, one study that examined parents of
kindergarten children within a 2-year period found an association between marital conflict and
greater parenting difficulties among fathers but not mothers (Davies et al., 2009). Another study
longitudinally investigated the association between marital hostility and parenting behaviors
from toddler years to 6 years of age and found that children at the age of 27 months, compared to
children ages 18 to 26 months, experienced more parental hostility by their fathers, but not by
mothers, due to marital conflict (Stover et al., 2016).
Overall, research support for the spillover hypothesis is strong, and highlights that
conflict in the marital relationship can be a source of stress in a family system and affect the
interactions and behaviors among family members (Erel & Burman, 1995; Nelson et al., 2009).
However, relatively less is known whether the spillover hypothesis holds true for Latino
individuals, and gender differences in these effect remain unclear. Testing for gender differences
in spillover effects may help to clarify mixed findings in the previous literature and would add to
understanding on how best to support Latino mothers and fathers.
Intervention Programs Aimed at Improving Marital Conflict
There are many aspects of family functioning that have been the focus of research studies
and clinical interventions, including preventive interventions with couples (Rogge et al., 2013;
Olson et al., 2012). Research on preventive intervention programs that address relational distress
revealed that couples who participated in these programs were more satisfied than couples who
did not participate (Halford et al., 2008). Such prevention programs aim to teach couples
communication and problem-solving skills, and help them understand relationship expectations,
friendships, and commitment (Markman et al., 1994; Olson et al., 2012). These key relational
skills, which include communication, conflict resolution, and commitment (Olson et al., 2012;
Silliman & Schumm, 1995), have also been the focus of premarital preparation programs, and
have served as the foundation for marital therapy and programs developed for couples (Bray &
Jouriles, 1995; Olson et al., 2012; Silliman & Schumm, 1995). The commonality between these
three elements is a sense of safety they each bring into the relationship (Stanley et al., 1999).
Research has demonstrated that these preventive interventions for couples can increase
confidence in their relationships, feelings of readiness for marriage (Knutson, 2003; Futris et al.,
2011), and more positive conflict management behaviors (Futris et al., 2011), as well as reduce
marital distress and divorce (Stanley, 2001).
Research also has shown that prevention intervention programs for individuals to address
relationship issues can be effective, and that Latinos have benefitted from such programs (Antle
et al., 2013; Visvanathan et al., 2015). For example, Within My Reach (WMR) is an empirically
supported prevention program that promotes healthy romantic relationships, with a particular
focus on establishing personal and emotional safety, and commitment to the future. More
specifically, the WMR curriculum was developed as a skill-based program to help individuals in
viable romantic relationships to improve the quality of their relationship, help those in damaging
relationships to end the relationship safefly, and help those desiring a romantic relationship to
make healthy choices in the future. WMR incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioral marital
therapy and other components of communication-oriented marital enhancement programs as the
foundation of the curriculum. However, WMR was developed for individuals and makes no
assumptions that a participant is in a romantic relationship (Pearson et al., 2005). WMR has been
shown to result in a significant reduction in physical and emotional abuse among participants
following completion of the program and long-lasting benefits at a 6-month follow-up (Antle et
al., 2011). In addition to a decrease in relationship violence, WMR participants have reported an
increase in training satisfaction, knowledge, communication/conflict resolution skills, and
relationship quality (Antle et al., 2013). However, none of these studies have evaluated the
impact of these relationship-based prevention/intervention programs on the parent-child
relationship. Such a test of the spillover hypothesis with Latino individuals with children would
add to literature on family processes involved in healthy child development in this ethnic
Current Investigation
The purpose of the current investigation is to test the spillover hypothesis with Latino
individuals participating in a community-based relationship skills-building program.
Specifically, the current study will focus on individuals who endorsed being in a marriage
relationship and having at least one child to test the effectiveness of the WMR curriculum at
improving not only the marital relationship, but also the parent-child relationship. Moreover,
given the previous mixed research findings, this study will also examine potential gender
differences in spillover effects. Based on the spillover hypothesis, previous literature on the
marital relationship and parenting, and what is known about the importance of the family within
the Latino culture, it is predicted that improving the quality of the marriage relationship will, in
turn, enhance the quality of the parent-child relationship, specifically related to parenting. Given
the mixed findings about gender differences suggested in prior research, potential differences
between mothers and fathers will be explored as an empirical question.
This study is based on clinical outcome data collected between 2006 and 2011 by Family
Bridges of Chicago/Lazos de Familia, a non-profit organization that promotes healthy
relationships. Outcome data was collected from mental health and social service centers in the
Chicago metropolitan area that offered Within My Reach (WMR) for individuals in low income
communities. Participants for the WMR prevention intervention program were recruited from
the Chicago metropolitan area at the various centers through advertisement, referral, and word of
mouth. The specific recruitment process varied among providers and each center. Each
organization decided on the advertisement procedure, who they would refer and accept for the
referral. Participants were presented with the opportunity to participate free of charge in the
WMR curriculum, which was led by a certified provider. Consent was obtained by informing
participants they would be asked to complete the pre- and post-assessment evaluation in order to
participate in the WMR curriculum. The provider explained to the participants that the data will
remain confidential by identifying the participant by a number rather than their name. Prior to
starting the WMR curriculum, participants were given a pre-assessment evaluation, and the same
measure was given to them immediately following the completion of the program, which was a
5-week period. Due to the large number of Spanish-speaking participants, bilingual instructors
provided mixed language or Spanish-only instructions. These participants were also provided
with the Spanish form of the pre- and post-assessment evaluation.
Participants of this study came from a larger study of individuals who primarily belong to
various Latino ethnicities from low-income communities throughout various counties of Illinois.
The sample of this study consists of the subset of participants who reported being Latino,
endorsed being in a marriage relationship and having at least one child at the time of data
collection, and with complete data on marital and parenting assessment items. Demographic
characteristics of participants are presented in Table 1.
The assessment instrument for WMR was used to measure marital quality and parenting
quality. This instrument was created in both Spanish and in English by Family Bridges of
Chicago/Lazos de Familia after consulting with various clinical psychologists from Illinois and
Mexico City. Items on the instrument included demographic information and short-answer
questions which allowed participants to give feedback and assess for retention regarding the
program material, as well as 15 Likert-scale items related to marital quality and parenting
Marital Quality
Marital quality was assessed at pre-test and post-test in the WMR program with 13 items.
Examples of these statements include “I can usually see both sides of an argument”, “If I felt
afraid, I would still stay in the relationship because of the feelings I had for him or her”, and “I
let things build up for a long time before I complain.” Participants were asked to rate their level
of agreement with each statement on a Likert scale ranging from 1 to 5 (i.e., 1=Strongly Agree;
2=Agree; 3=Not Sure; 4=Disagree; 5=Strongly Disagree). Positive statements were reverse-
coded so that a higher score indicates higher marital quality. Based on a principle axis factor
analysis of the 13 items at pre-test and at post-test, two items with low factor loadings (“couple
should separate when they have irreconcilable differences” and “afraid to talk about things that
are important to me with others”) at both timepoints were removed in calculating the scale
scores. The resulting Marital Quality scale score at pre-test had an internal consistency
reliability of
=.61, and at post-test of
=..65. The current study utilized the pre-test score and
post-test score for preliminary analyses testing the effectiveness of WMR. A difference score
calculated by substracting the pre-test score from the post-test score was used in the main
analysis testing for spillover effects.
Parenting Quality
Parenting was assessed with two items from the WMR curriculum pre-test/post-test
assessment: “My children do not show adequate respect for me” and “The father/mother of the
children and I argue about parenting the children. These items were rated on the same 5-point
Likert scale as the marital quality items; thus, a higher score indicates higher parenting quality.
The internal consistency reliability of a scale score calculated by combining these two items
were unacceptable. Thus, the current study utilized the individual items for analyses, and
parenting quality difference scores were calculated by substracting the pre-test score from the
post-test score for each of the two parenting items.
Data Analytic Strategy
Preliminary analyses included descriptive statistics and a test of the effectiveness of the
WMR curriculum at increasing marital quality for Latino individuals using a 2 (time: pre-test,
post-test) x 2 (gender: mother, father) repeated measures ANOVA with the Marital Quality scale
score. These analyses were repeated for each of the parenting items to test for the effectiveness
of the WMR curriculum at increasing child respect for parents, and decreasing parental conflicts
over parenting. The spillover hypothesis and possible gender differences in spillover effects were
tested with hierarchical multiple regressions analyses using the marital quality difference score
and gender, as well as the interaction of marital quality difference and gender, as predictors and
the parenting difference score as the outcome.
Means, standard deviations, and zero-order correlations for all scale scores are reported in
Table 2. Results of the repeated measures ANOVA for marital quality demonstrated no
statistically significant interaction effect between gender and time and no significant main effect
of gender. However, there was a statistically significant main effect of time [F(1,523=32.01,
p<.001], demonstrating a significant mean difference between the pre-test (M = 3.57, SD = .51)
and the post-test (M = 3.77, SD = .56) Marital Quality scale scores. These findings indicate that
the WMR curriculum significantly improved marital quality for both mothers and fathers.
Results for child respect demonstrated a statistically significant interaction effect between gender
and time [F(1,523=5.23, p<.05], which indicated that the WMR curriculum significantly
improved parental perceptions of child respect for fathers (M=2.90 at pre-test and M=3.25 at
post-test) but not for mothers (M=3.20 at pre-test and M=3.18 at post-test). Results for parenting
conflict demonstrated no significant effects.
Results of the hierarchical regression analyses using marital and parenting change scores
demonstrated no significant interaction effects between marital change scores and gender in
predicting either parenting change scores. However, both analyses demonstrated main effects of
marital change. Improvements in marital quality predicted increases in children’s respect for
parents (
=.13, p<.01), and decreases in arguing about children (
=.10, p<.05). Consistent with
the results of the repeated measures ANOVA, there was also a significant main effect of gender,
which indicated gender predicted change in children’s respect for parents (
=-.10, p<.01).
The current investigation sought to test the spillover hypothesis with Latino individuals
participating in a community-based relationship skills-building program, specifically Within My
Research (WMR; Pearson et al., 2005),. The goal of the study was to examine if improvements
in a marital relationship would be associated with improvements in parenting quality, and if
gender plays a moderating role in this association. Results examining the effectiveness of WMR
revealed significant improvements in marital quality for both male and female participants. In
addition, although direct effects of WMR on parenting quality were minimal, results testing the
indirect effects supported the spillover hypothesis. Specifically, results demonstrated that an
increase in the marital quality predicted change in parenting quality for both mothers and fathers.
This study’s findings with the Latino population are consistent with previous research on
the effectiveness of relationship enhancement programs with ethnic minority low-income
partnered individuals (Antle et al., 2013; Visvanathan et al., 2015). In addition, the lack of
gender differences found in the effectivenss of WMR is consistent with previous research
showing comparable effectiveness of the WMR curriculum among ethnic minority men and
women (Antle et al., 2011, 2013). The study’s findings also are consistent with previous studies
that have demonstrated an association between marital dissatisfaction and parenting (i.e.,
parental involvement, parental discipline, parental consistency) (Krishnakumar & Buehler, 2000)
as well as negative parent-child relationships (Nelson et al., 2009; Erel & Burman, 1995) among
multiethnic samples (Gonzales et al., 2000).
Interestingly, the one area of parenting that demonstrated direct benefits from the marital
enrichment workshop was child respect. This was found only for fathers, but not mothers.
However, it is notable that father’s perceptions of respect from children changed from negative
to neutral, and mothers’ perceptions of respect from children was neutral at both timepoints. This
finding suggests that general relational skills may help parents to reduce disrespectful child
behavior, but additional interventions directly focused on improving the parent-child relationship
may be needed to improve respectful child behavior toward parents. In other words, although
improvements in marital quality predicted improvements in parenting quality, these results
suggest that additional parenting skills training may be needed for parents and children to
experience a positive relationship. It is also possible that a cultural lens that takes into account
important values and perspectives relevant to the Latino population is needed. Familismo may
serve as a cultural lens by which the parent-child relationship functions in a certain manner in
Latino families; greater improvements in the parent-child relationship may result from culturally-
informed interventions with specific skills related to parenting in Latino families. More
specifically, addressing cultural values (e.g., familismo) and other relevant cultural factors (e.g.,
levels of acculturation, language, generational dynamics) in addition to parenting skill-building
interventions, may more clearly influence the overall parenting quality with Latino children.
Clinical Implications
The present study offers implications for clinical work when working with Latino parents
and their children. Results suggest it would be beneficial for clinicians to further assess and
intervene with the marital relationship among Latino parents when there are co-parenting
difficulties or conflict within the parent-child relationship. Even when the presenting problem is
focused on the child’s problematic behavior or solely parent-child relation problems, the
dynamics within the marital relationship may have contributed to the maintenance of the
presenting problem. One potential outcome of interventions in the marital relationship is that
parents’ positive marital relationship could help children learn positive behaviors as well. The
social learning theory suggests that children often model behaviors and interactions of those who
are important to them, particularly their caregivers (Bandura, 1978). When working with Latino
parents it would be important to explain how experiencing positive interactions among
caregivers may bring forth similar behaviors in a child. The opposite can occur if a child
witnesses negative interactions among parents.
As previously discussed, the current study suggests that intervention programs aimed at
reducing relational conflict and improving relationship quality may be clinically beneficial in
improving the parent-child relationship. More specifically, the present results suggest how
Latino fathers reported an increase in child respect while Latino mothers did not. However,
fathers’ perceptions of respect from children changed from negative to neutral, while mothers’
perceptions remained neutral at pre-test and post-test. These findings provide clinical evidence
in the value of marital intervention programs for Latino population as a means to potentially
reduce a parent’s difficulty with their children and increasing respect among children. Yet,
addressing the marital relationship may simply be a good starting point in assisting families by
developing healthier relationship (i.e., increasing communication). Many families may also
benefit from receiving further guidance and parenting skills to improve relational dynamics
specific to the parent-child relationship. In other words, parent-child relationship interventions
could help maintain the positive spillover effects while also provide more guidance in learning
different strategies that foster the parent-child relationship (i.e., increasing parenting strategies).
It is important to note that previous studies have identified an underutilization of mental
health services among Latinos compared with the general population (Alegría et al., 2007;
Cabassa et al., 2006). More specifically, having a mental illness and seeking out mental health
support are shown to be highly stigmatized among the Latino population (Interian et al., 2010;
Vega et al., 2010). Given that prevention interventions may lead to reduction in stigma and
increase in understanding of mental health services (Jorm et al., 2003), psychoeducation that is
culturally relevant or modified will be an important aspect of treatment in order to gain the trust
and interest of Latino families.
When working with Latino families it would also be important to highlight the value of
familismo, particularly as it relates to improving the marital relationship when clients are
presenting with child-related concerns. In line with the spillover hypothesis, the present results
suggest that improving the marital relationship can have a beneficial effect on the parent-child
relationship. Our findings also provide support that improvement in the parent-child relationship
could occur for both Latino mothers and fathers. These results are especially important when
working with Latino parents since family is at the core of their identity and cultural values.
Informing the Latino population of these findings and explaining to them the positive effects it
should have on the marital and parent-child relationship may increase the motivation and
participation in treatment. Further, it is important to help families understand the impact of
positive family coping dynamics and its impact on the child’s development and overall well-
being (Goldberg & Carlson, 2014) prior to starting treatment. Clinicians should approach these
conversations with cultural humility and in a culturally sensitive and culturally relevant manner.
Strengths, Limitations, and Future Directions
The strengths and limitations of the present study provide helpful information for guiding
future research. As the first study to examine the association between the marital relationship
and parenting among Latino individuals participating in a community-based psychoeducational
program for healthy relationships, our study uniquely contributes to the literature by examining
the effectiveness of the WMR curriculum and demonstrating that improvement in the marital
relationship was associated with positive changes in the parent-child relationship. A significant
strength was the diversity in the sample. The current study included Latino individuals who
endorsed being in a marriage relationship and having at least one child. Within this sample, there
was a wide age range and length of marriage, and included both mothers and fathers. In addition,
the WMR curriculum was administered in Spanish for monolingual participants and utilized
Spanish pre- and post- assessment evaluations. This allowed for the opportunity to appropriately
assess the effects of the WMR curriculum for Latino parents whose primary language was
Spanish, as well as those whose primary language was English.
This study also needs to be considered in light of its limitations. One limitation was
measurement. The current study used extant clinical outcome data from a large multi-site
community-based intervention that assessed marital and parenting quality with an assessment
instrument developed by the community agency. It is important to note that the Marital Quality
scale score evidenced internal consistency reliability that was minimally acceptable. However,
the parenting quality was assessed using single item scales. Future research should utilize
existing measures that have strong psychometric properties. In addition, although the assessment
data for this community program included measures of outcomes before and after the
intervention, there was no comparison control condition; thus caution is warranted in
interpretations of causal processes. Finally, future research focused on increasing the marital
quality and parenting quality relationship should control for factors relevant to the experience of
many Latino families living in the U.S. These factors may include immigration, racism and
discrimination, financial struggles, language barriers, and acculturation.
The results of the current study demonstrated the impact of a relationship skills-building
intervention program, Within My Reach (WMR), on increasing the relationship quality between
marriage partners and subsequently between parent and child. This study strongly supports
previous research that has consistently supported the benefits of intervention programs aimed at
reducing marital conflict and improving relationship quality. Results suggest that both Latino
mothers and fathers can benefit from community-based interventions aimed at improving their
marital relationship. In addition, although there were positive spillover effects of marital
improvement on parenting quality, our results suggest that Latino couples would further benefit
from direct parenting interventions, in addition to interventions focused on their marital
relationship. Clinically, the results of this study can be used to encourage Latino parents to find
ways to invest in their marital relationship, and understand the positive impact it can have on
their co-parenting and parent-child relationship. In addition, the results of this study can guide
future research aimed at strengthening the relationships between Latino family members living in
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Table 1.
Demographic Characteristics of Study Participants
Years Married
0-4 years
5-10 years
11-20 years
21-30 years
31+ years
Number of Children
Primary Language
Table 2
Means and Standard Deviations, and Bivariate Correlations Among Pre- and Post-Assessments Scores for Marital and Parenting
Marital Quality Pre
Marital Quality Post
Child Respect Pre
Child Respect Post
Parenting Conflict Pre
Parenting Conflict Post
Marital Quality Diff
Child Respect Diff
Parenting Conflict Diff
Note. Higher scores indicate higher levels of positive relationship quality. MQ=Marital Quality; CR=Child Respect; PC=Parenting
Conflict; *p<.05, **p<.01.
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The current study sought to examine the impact of family functioning (i.e., balanced cohesion and balanced flexibility) and individual factors (i.e., familism and global self-worth) on the incidence of mental health problems in a sample of Latino early adolescents. Additionally, the current study examined the way in which individual factors mediated the effects of family functioning on mental health problems in Latino youth. Eighty Latino parent-adolescent dyads participated in the current study, including 66 mothers and 14 fathers, as well as 42 female early adolescents and 38 male early adolescents. Parents and youth completed questionnaires assessing the incidence of mental health problems in youth, and adolescents completed additional questionnaires assessing acculturation, family functioning, familism, and global self-worth. Results indicated that adolescent acculturation was not significantly related to mental health outcomes in youth. However, adolescents’ reports of increased family functioning predicted decreased externalizing problems in youth, as well as increased levels of familism and global self-worth in youth. Increased levels of familism predicted decreased externalizing problems in youth, and increased levels of global self-worth predicted decreased internalizing and externalizing problems in youth. Mediation results indicated that individual factors mediated the effects of family functioning on externalizing problems in youth. These results highlight the associations between family functioning, familism, global self-worth and the incidence of mental health problems and provide valuable information on the way in which individual variables mediate the effects of family functioning on mental health problems in Latino early adolescents.
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A large theoretical and empirical literature documents the central role of familismo (i.e., a strong emphasis on family) in the functioning of Latino youth. Few studies, however, have examined its association with early childhood functioning. The present study explored the potential risk and protective effects of maternal familismo on the adaptive and mental health functioning of 4- to 5-year-old Latino children. A sample of 205 Mexican and 147 Dominican immigrant families was recruited from New York City. Mothers reported on their level of familismo and acculturative status. Mothers and teachers rated child adaptive behavior and internalizing and externalizing problems. Findings suggest that maternal familismo is not uniformly associated with positive or negative early developmental outcomes but that its effects are moderated by child gender, family poverty, and cultural (e.g., maternal ethnic and U.S. American identity) characteristics. In addition, different mechanisms were identified for each ethnic group. Familismo was associated both positively (for boys) and negatively (for poor children) with adaptive behavior in the Mexican American sample. In the Dominican American sample, familismo showed a wide range of positive, albeit moderated, effects. Prevention efforts that help parents critically evaluate the impact of familismo on family processes, and preserve those manifestations of familismo that are protective, may best promote Latino child well-being.
Interparental Conflict and Child Development is a 2001 text that provides an in-depth analysis of the rapidly expanding body of research on the impact of interparental conflict on children. Emphasizing developmental and family systems perspectives, it investigates a range of important issues, including the processes by which exposure to conflict may lead to child maladjustment, the role of gender and ethnicity in understanding the effects of conflict, the influence of conflict on parent–child, sibling, and peer relations, family violence, and interparental conflict in divorced and step-families. It also addresses the implications of this research for prevention, clinical intervention, and public policy. Each chapter examines relevant conceptual and methodological questions, reviews on pertinent data, and identifies pathways for future research. Thus, the book serves to chart the course for continued investigation into the links between marital and child functioning.
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The present study extends the spillover and crossover hypotheses to more carefully model the potential interdependence between parent–parent interaction quality and parent–child interaction quality in family systems. Using propensity score matching, the present study attempted to isolate family processes that are unique across African American and European American couples that are independent of other socio-demographic factors to further clarify how interparental relationships may be related to parenting in a rural, low-income sample. The Actor–Partner Interdependence Model (APIM), a statistical analysis technique that accounts for the interdependence of relationship data, was used with a sample of married and non-married cohabiting African American and European American couples (n = 82 dyads) to evaluate whether mothers' and fathers' observed parenting behaviours are related to their behaviours and their partner's behaviours observed in a couple problem-solving interaction. Findings revealed that interparental withdrawal behaviour, but not conflict behaviour, was associated with less optimal parenting for fathers but not mothers, and specifically so for African American fathers. Our findings support the notion of interdependence across subsystems within the family and suggest that African American fathers may be specifically responsive to variations in interparental relationship quality. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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