Abstract: The Importance of Nurturance and Attachment on Parent-Child Interaction Among Latinx Immigrant Mothers with Traumatic Life Experiences: A Mediation Analysis (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

The Importance of Nurturance and Attachment on Parent-Child Interaction Among Latinx Immigrant Mothers with Traumatic Life Experiences: A Mediation Analysis

Sunday, January 16, 2022
Liberty Ballroom J, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Mihoko Maru, PhD, MSW, MA, Postdoctoral Fellow, Boston University School of Social Work, Boston, MA
Ruth Paris, Associate Professor and Chair, Clinical Practice, Boston University School of Social Work
Background and Purpose: Parental trauma exposure can lead to poor parental mental health including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder which can further impact parental functioning including parenting stress (Perreira & Ornelas, 2013). High levels of parenting stress has been linked to poor parent-child relationships (Chung et al., 2020). Latinx immigrants are exposed to myriad pre-migration and migration trauma and are a high-risk group for serious trauma-related mental health outcomes. Despite the association between parental trauma and parenting stress seen among Caucasian parents (Ammerman et al., 2013), little is known about the impact of trauma on Latinx immigrant parents with young children. Furthermore, understanding which protective factors of maladaptive parenting (social and concrete support, nurturance and attachment between parent and child, and family functioning and resilience) can mitigate the effect of trauma on parenting stress and can help advance culturally competent parenting interventions. The present study tested the direct and indirect relationship of maternal trauma exposure on perceived dysfunctional parent-child interaction, and the mediating role of protective factors of maladaptive parenting for Latinx parents and children.

Methods: Baseline data collected from parents participating in a community-based parent-child dyadic program were analyzed for this study. Measures included parent’s trauma history (Life Stressor Checklist-Revised), four domains of family protective factors (Protective Factors Survey), and the dysfunctional parent-child interaction (DPCI) subscale of the Parenting Stress Index-Short Form.

Results: The sample included 77 parents (mean age=30.7 years; female=76) most of whom identified as ethnically Central American, with a dyad child between 2-84 months (mean=34.7) and largely low-income (75% reporting household income <$25,000). Parents reported having experienced 10 traumatic life events, on average, including serious financial problems and physical and emotional abuse. Pearson’s correlation results showed a positive association between the outcome (DPCI) and parental trauma, and negative associations between DPCI and three protective factors, family functioning and resiliency, social support, and nurturance and attachment. Parental trauma was negatively associated with social support, and nurturance and attachment. A multivariate regression analysis showed that parental trauma predicted higher levels of DPCI (B=0.49, SE=0.21, p=0.02, R2=0.08, df=1,71, F=5.78). Among the protective factors, the nurturance and attachment factor fully mediated the relationship between parental trauma and DPCI (total effect size=0.49, SE=0.20, p=0.015; direct effect size=0.24, SE=0.17, p=0.15; indirect effect size=0.248, SE=0.13, p=0.047).

Conclusions and Implications: Results suggest that higher nurturance and attachment in the parent-child relationship acts as a “buffer” for parents despite parents’ trauma history, and has a protective effect on the relationship leading to less perceptions of negative parent-child interactions. Increasing levels of nurturance and attachment may help mitigate the impact of parental trauma on stressful parent-child interactions. Interventions that focus on parenting skills aimed at strengthening attachment with their young children may impact positive changes in the parent-child relationship and parenting stress.