Family obligation, parenting, and adolescent outcomes among Mexican American families

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Yan, Jinjin

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Family obligation is considered a generally promotive factor in the development of Mexican American adolescents. However, most prior studies have focused on only adolescents’ sense of family obligation. The impact of parents’ sense of family obligation on adolescent outcomes is less often considered. Moreover, the mechanism through which a sense of family obligation links to adolescent outcomes in Mexican American families still remains unknown. Thus, the current study utilizes data from a two-wave longitudinal study to investigate the mediating role of parenting practices in the association between both parents’ and adolescents’ sense of family obligation and adolescent outcomes. Participants were 604 Mexican American adolescents (54.3% female, M [subscript age.wave1] = 12.41 years, SD = .97) and their parents residing in Central Texas. Results revealed that parents with a greater sense of family obligation reported more positive parenting practices and adolescents with a stronger sense of family obligation perceived more supportive parenting practices. Supportive parenting practices were found to be significant mediators in the longitudinal connections through which both adolescents’ and parents’ sense of family obligation related to subsequent adolescent outcomes. There were parent gender differences: adolescents’ family obligation was more strongly related to their reports of maternal (vs. paternal) parenting. The links also varied across informants for parenting: a) individuals’ sense of family obligation related only to their own perceptions of parenting; and b) there were more evident associations between adolescent-reported (vs. parent-reported) parenting and adolescent outcomes. These findings will provide significant implications for future interventions and policies for promoting adolescent outcomes by shaping both parents’ and adolescents’ perceptions of more supportive parenting practices in Mexican American families.


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