Ecological theories and resilience research underscore the importance of family relationships in the promotion of adolescent resilience. Most Latino adolescents reside in two-parent homes (Karberg et al., 2017), yet research on Mexican American (MA) fathers’ roles in adolescent development is limited. Therefore, while controlling for mothering behaviors, we investigated how parent-adolescent relationship quality mediated the relations between fathering behaviors —warmth, monitoring, and hostility — and adolescent resilience and delinquency in immigrant MA families.
Method: Data was drawn from a larger study of 604 MA families. We included cases of intact families in which fathers opted to participate, resulting in a total sample of 272 father, mother, and adolescent triads. On average, fathers were 41 years old (SD= 6.40) and mothers were 38 years old (SD = 5.72). Fewer than half of the adolescents were female (47.4%) and were on average 12 years old (SD = 1.00). Most parents were Mexican born (>98%) while most adolescents were U.S. born (73.2%).
Measures Father, mother, and adolescent reports of parental warmth, monitoring, and hostilitywere assessed using measures adopted from the Iowa Youth and Families Project (Ge et al., 1996). Resiliencewas measured by adolescent self-report on the Connor and Davidson (2003) Resilience scale. Delinquency was measured by adolescent self-report using the “rule-breaking behaviors” subscale of the Youth Self-Report (Achenbach, 2001). Parent– child relationship quality was assessed using the alienation subscale of Armsden and Greenberg’s (1987) Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment.
Two separate structural equation models (resilience and delinquency) estimated the relations between parenting behaviors, parent-child alienation, and adolescent resilience and delinquency. The mediating effects of parent-child alienation in each model were tested using the bootstrap estimation approach with 1,000 samples with 95% confidence intervals.
Results: Paternal monitoring was significantly positively related to resilience (b = .14, p < .05) and negatively related to delinquency (b = -.20, p < . 01). Alienation mediated the relationship between father hostility and delinquency (b = .04, 95 CI .02,.08), and father hostility and resilience (b = -.04, 95 CI -.10,-.01). Parent-child alienation was a significant correlate of both resilience (b = .-.21, p < .001) and delinquency (b = .15, p <.05).
Conclusions and implications:Fathering uniquely contributed to adolescent resilience and delinquency above and beyond that of mothers, and in ways that complemented mothering. Fathers tended to have a more direct effect on adolescent outcomes, whereas mothers’ parenting behaviors were more strongly related to parent-child relationship quality. Findings suggest that clinical, family-based prevention and intervention efforts that facilitate increased paternal monitoring, decreased hostility, and close parent-child relationships may reduce MA adolescent delinquency and promoting resilience.