Psychosocial Mechanisms Underlying Quality of Parenting Among Mexican-American and White Adolescent Mothers

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Although previous researchers have identified a relationship between ethnicity and parenting practices, there have been few studies designed to identify the mechanisms underlying this relationship. This study addressed two questions: (1) Can the relationship between ethnicity and parenting practices be explained in terms of the uneven distribution of financial stress, parenting stress, and/or global stress across ethnic groups? (2) Do social support and employment status moderate the relationship between stress and parenting behavior among teen mothers? Fifty Caucasian and forty-nine Mexican-American teen mothers with children between the ages of 1 and 3 participated in this study. Financial stress, parenting stress, global stress, social support, and parenting behavior were assessed using self-report questionnaires. Findings indicated that Mexican-American teen mothers engaged in more negative parenting behaviors than White teen mothers, but the relationship between ethnicity and parenting was mediated by the combined influences of financial, parenting, and global stress. Regardless of ethnic status, level of social support and employment status moderated the effects of stress on a mother's parenting behavior; young mothers reported more nurturant behavior if they received higher levels of social support and were employed.

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