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01-08-2014 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 8/2014

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 8/2014

Cultural Orientations, Parental Beliefs and Practices, and Latino Adolescents’ Autonomy and Independence

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 8/2014
Kathleen M. Roche, Margaret O. Caughy, Mark A. Schuster, Laura M. Bogart, Patricia J. Dittus, Luisa Franzini


Despite the salience of behavioral autonomy and independence to parent–child interactions during middle adolescence, little is known about parenting processes pertinent to youth autonomy development for Latino families. Among a diverse sample of 684 Latino-origin parent–adolescent dyads in Houston, Texas, this study examines how parents’ cultural orientations are associated directly and indirectly, through parental beliefs, with parenting practices giving youth behavioral autonomy and independence. Informed by social domain theory, the study’s parenting constructs pertain to youth behaviors in an “ambiguously personal” domain—activities that adolescents believe are up to youth to decide, but which parents might argue require parents’ supervision, knowledge, and/or decision-making. Results for latent profile analyses of parents’ cultural identity across various facets of acculturation indicate considerable cultural heterogeneity among Latino parents. Although 43 % of parents have a Latino cultural orientation, others represent Spanish-speaking/bicultural (21 %), bilingual/bicultural (15 %), English-speaking/bicultural (15 %), or US (6 %) cultural orientations. Structural equation modeling results indicate that bilingual/bicultural, English-speaking/bicultural, and US-oriented parents report less emphasis on the legitimacy of parental authority and younger age expectations for youth to engage in independent behaviors than do Latino-oriented parents. Parental beliefs endorsing youth’s behavioral independence and autonomy, in turn, are associated with less stringent parental rules (parental report), less parental supervision (parental and youth report), and more youth autonomy in decision-making (parental and youth report). Evidence thus supports the idea that the diverse cultural orientations of Latino parents in the US may result in considerable variations in parenting processes pertinent to Latino adolescents’ development.

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