Latino men are more likely to binge drink and, consequently, engage in risky behavior than their non-Latino male counterparts in the U.S. While there is an extensive amount of literature that supports the relationship between positive father-child relationships and decreased adolescent alcohol use, there is a gap in the knowledge base regarding how fatherhood affects alcohol use for Latino men.
The current study explored the impact of two Latino cultural constructs, traditional machismo and caballerismo, on the father-child relationship, fatherhood identity, and father self-efficacy of Latino fathers with problem drinking behaviors. The researchers hypothesized that father self-efficacy would decrease with an increase in problem drinking. They also hypothesized that higher fatherhood identity would be associated with lower traditional machismo and less problem drinking.
This study explored data from 309 Latino 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. Over 55% of their children were male, and the majority of fathers had custody of their youngest child.
Multiple regression was used to assess the ability of traditional machismo, caballerismo, child-father relationship (closeness and conflict), father self-efficacy, and fatherhood identity to understand problem drinking after controlling for the father’s acculturation, father’s age, and youngest child’s age. The main effects model was significant; the total variance explained by the model predicting problem drinking was 37.8%, p<.001. Latino fathers with higher levels of traditional machismo and child-father conflict and lower levels of fatherhood identity significantly predicted higher problem drinking (p<.01). Moreover, the overall model including an interaction term of fatherhood identity and traditional machismo was significant. The total variance explained by the model predicting problem drinking with the interaction was 38.6%, p<.001. For Latino fathers, fatherhood identity moderated the relationship between traditional machismo and problem drinking (p<.05). Indeed, high levels of traditional machismo and low levels of fatherhood identity were related to increased problem drinking. Nevertheless, high levels of caballerismo, a close father-child relationship, and high levels of father self-efficacy were not related to less problem drinking.
Conclusions and Implications:
This study’s findings highlight the importance of fatherhood for Latino men and offer a strengths-based approach for intervention and prevention of alcohol misuse. A strengths-based perspective to fatherhood interventions designed to lower problem drinking and improve father-child relationships would help improve fathers’ sense of resiliency and use of coping strategies to overcome psychological stressors and institutional inequities. With the large expansion of the Latino population in the U.S. coupled with the growth of alcohol misuse among Latino males, it is imperative to find alternative and innovative strengths-based models of intervention for this population.