There has been a growing interest in Hispanic parents and their impact on their children’s physical, mental, emotional, and interpersonal health. Numerous studies have analyzed the relationship between Hispanic maternal parenting styles and child outcomes; however, fewer studies have focused on the impact of cultural values on the parenting styles of Hispanic fathers and, in turn, the developmental outcomes of their children.
This study investigated three prominent parenting styles: (1) authoritative, (2) permissive,and (3) authoritarian. The authoritative parenting style is regarded as the most effective to promoting healthy child outcomes in contrast to the permissive and authoritarian styles. The cultural constructs of familismo, simpatia, personalismo, machismo, and caballerismowere analyzed in relationship with the three prominent parenting styles. The purpose of the study was to explore the impact of these cultural constructs on the parenting styles of Hispanic fathers.
This study explored data from 309 Hispanic fathers who participated in a web-based questionnaire administered by Qualtrics, a third-party online survey company. Of the sample, about 51% of the sample (n=157) identified as Mexican American while 22% identified as Puerto Rican, 8% as Central American, 7% as Cuban, 7% as South American, and 5% as Dominican. The average age of the father was 37 years old. Eighty percent of fathers had one or two children, and the average age of their youngest child was 7 years old.
Multiple regression was used to assess the ability of five Hispanic cultural constructs (familismo, simpatia,personalismo, machismo, and caballerismo) to understand different parenting styles (authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive) after controlling for the father’s age, education, income, level of acculturation, and child’s age. The total variance explained by the models ranged from 57.5% authoritative, 45.9% authoritarian, and 37.2% permissive, all significant at p<.001. Hispanic fathers with higher levels of personalismoand lower levels of machismosignificantly predicted authoritative parenting (p<.001). Hispanic fathers with higher levels of simpatiaand machismoand lower levels of caballersimo significantly predicted authoritarian parenting (p<.001). Finally, Hispanic fathers who had higher levels of familismo,simpatia, and machismoand lower levels of caballerismopredicted permissive parenting (p<.001).
Conclusions and Implications:
The results of this study can inform the creation of tailored parenting interventions that understand the importance of familismo,simpatia, personalismo, machismo, and caballerismo. Increasing cultural content and structures that develop personalismoandcaballerismowhile decreasing an emphasis on simpatiaand machismowould benefit Hispanic fathers’ parenting styles and, consequently, child outcomes. In addition, incorporating an understanding of these cultural constructs into parenting interventions can increase a father’s and his children’s level of access to socioeconomic opportunities often denied to them based on race or ethnicity. Lastly, applying familismo, simpatia, and personalismoto social work education and practice has the potential to provide Hispanic families with more empowering and culturally relevant strengths-based parenting strategies.