Conflict in the Latino Parent-Youth Dyad: The Role of Emotional Support From the Opposite Parent

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Abstract

In the present study, the author examined the independent and interactive effects of support and conflict within a triadic familial context (mother-father-youth). The sample consisted of 6th- and 7th-grade inner-city Latino youths (N = 329; 142 boys, 187 girls). Using multiple regression techniques, level of conflict with either mother or father was consistently related to higher levels of both boys' and girls' internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Interaction effects were significant in predicting boys' externalizing behavior problems—a supportive parental relationship significantly reduced the risk associated with high conflict with the opposite parent. For boys' internalizing problems, mother and father support served a protective function regardless of the level of conflict with the opposite parent. Conflict with the mother was especially detrimental for Latina girls—highly conflictive mother-daughter relationships were associated with increased internalizing and externalizing symptomatology, and father support added little in predicting symptomatology. The study adds to the understanding of risk and protection in Latino families and underscores the importance of examining the parent-youth relationship from a triadic perspective, noting similarities and differences in mother-son, mother-daughter, father-son, and father-daughter relations.

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