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27-05-2019 | Original Paper

Parental Socialization Beliefs and Long-term Goals for Young Children Among Three Generations of Mexican American Mothers

Journal of Child and Family Studies
Marie-Anne Suizzo, Louise E. Tedford, Molly McManus
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Parents’ beliefs, practices, and goals for children vary across cultures in the extent to which they promote dimensions of independence and interdependence. Parental preferences also vary within cultures according to nativity, generation status, and education level. Yet, within-culture studies of parenting among Mexican Americans are extremely scarce, especially among parents of young children.


In this study, 103 Mexican American mothers of one- to six-year-old children (M = 4.6 years) completed two questionnaires measuring (1) beliefs about the importance of socialization practices with young children, and (2) long-term goals and values for children as adults. We investigated differences in seven scales across three dimensions of independence and interdependence: agency, conformity, and relatedness.


Practice beliefs and long-term goals varied according to mother’s generation status, controlling for maternal education. Later generation mothers were more concerned with promoting autonomy (agency) (F2,97 = 6.85, partial eta squared = .12), and less with teaching obedience and manners (conformity) (F2,97 = 7.33, partial eta squared = .13), than earlier generation mothers. While they continued to value close relationships (relatedness), third generation mothers attached somewhat less importance to this long-term goal than earlier generation mothers (F2,97 = 4.89, partial eta squared = .09). Finally, generation status moderated relations between maternal education and teaching obedience and manners: maternal education level was more strongly negatively associated with the belief in teaching obedience and manners in third generation than in second-generation mothers (b = −.123, F3,99 = 16.911, R2 = .346, p < .001).


Despite these intergenerational trends, across all generations, Mexican-origin mothers highly valued aspects of both agency and conformity as well as relatedness, providing further support for the emotional interdependence cultural model of parenting. This study increases our knowledge of Mexican American mothers’ beliefs and goals, and may inform the design of evidence-based, culturally-sensitive interventions.

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