Methods: Cross-sectional baseline data for a subsample of 177 Latina mothers (Mean age = 32.8 years, SD = 6.2) were drawn from a larger study intervention study of Head Start families. Children were 4.2 years old (SD = 0.6), 52% were boys, and 75% of mothers were born outside of the US. Mothers reported on family economic pressure, lifetime trauma exposure (Trauma History Questionnaire), depressive symptoms (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale; CES-D), parenting attitudes (Parental Behavior Inventory), and children’s behavior problems (Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory). A path model with bootstrapped confidence intervals was run in Mplus to determine whether there were indirect effects of both economic pressure and lifetime trauma exposure on children’s behavioral problems through the serial mediators of maternal depressive symptoms and hostile parenting, while controlling for maternal age and education level, and child age.
Results: The hypothesized path model fit the data well [Χ2 (10, N =177) = 12.30, p =.27; RMSEA =.04; CFI =.98; TLI =.97]. Family economic pressure (β = .28, p <.01) and lifetime maternal trauma exposure (β = .30, p <.01) predicted maternal depressive symptoms, and subsequently depressive symptoms predicted hostility (β = .41, p <.01), which then predicted child behavior problems (β = .31, p <.01). There were significant indirect effects of both economic pressure and maternal trauma exposure on children’s behavior problems through the path of maternal depressive symptoms and hostile parenting (β= 0.04, [.01, .06], and β= 0.04, [.01, .07], respectively). There were also indirect effects of economic pressure and maternal trauma exposure on children’s behavior problems just through depressive symptoms (β= 0.09, [.02, .18], and β= 0.10, [.02, .19], respectively).
Conclusions and Implications: Results partially support an adapted FSM for Latina mothers of young children. Higher levels of family economic pressure and maternal lifetime trauma exposure both predicted greater child behavioral problems through the mediators of maternal depressive symptoms and, in part, hostile parenting. Findings suggest that interventions for low-income Latina mothers should assess these risk factors and primarily focus on alleviating depressive symptoms while also promoting effective parenting. Mothers may also benefit from trauma-informed interventions. However, future studies should examine these associations longitudinally to address limitations of cross-sectional data and include additional risk factors for Latina mothers like acculturative stress and discrimination.