Parenting Practices and Child Mental Health among Spanish Speaking Latino Families: Examining the Role of Parental Cultural Values

Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Melanie M. Domenech Rodríguez


Melanie M. Domenech Rodríguez


The purpose of this study was to examine Latino cultural values of familismo and respeto and parenting to understand their relationship to child mental health among a community sample of Spanish-speaking Latino families primarily of Mexican origin. Literature suggests that familismo and respeto are unique and important Latino values, they have the most evidence to support their existence, and they are noted to be related to parenting and child outcomes. Research indicates that child behavioral problems can be improved by focusing on cultural values within the context of parenting. Very little attention, however, has been given to Latino cultural values among family processes. While the emergent literature has brought forth useful information, lack of consistency among findings and reliance on self-report methodology lead to many unanswered questions. To address this issue, we conducted a multi-method investigation involving a parent-child behavioral observation of parenting practices that were coded (i.e., warmth, supportive demandingness, nonsupportive demandingness, and autonomy granting) and parental self-report surveys of cultural values and child mental health. Participants included 87 families primarily of Mexican origin with a child between 4 and 9 years. Participants in the study were enrolled in phase 1 of a larger study to culturally adapt a parenting intervention. Overall, research demonstrated that cultural values impact parenting, and parenting impacts child mental health. Cultural values did not predict child mental health. Latino families reported high familismo and medium high levels of respeto and they were positively correlated. Latino families were observed to engage in high supportive demandingness, medium high levels of warmth and autonomy granting, and low levels of nonsupportive demandingness. For Latina mothers, nonsupportive demandingness and familismo demonstrated a statistically significant positive relationship. Results indicated that among Latina mothers autonomy granting evidenced a significant relationship with child externalizing behavioral problems. Implications for preventative methods and clinical interventions for Latino families as well as directions for future research endeavors are discussed.


This work made publicly available electronically on October 1, 2010.

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