Abstract: The Protective Effects of Social Support and Family Functioning on Parenting Stress Among Latinx American Immigrant Mothers with Traumatic Life Experiences: A Mediation Analysis (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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The Protective Effects of Social Support and Family Functioning on Parenting Stress Among Latinx American Immigrant Mothers with Traumatic Life Experiences: A Mediation Analysis

Friday, January 13, 2023
Camelback A, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Mihoko Maru, PhD, MSW, MA, Postdoctoral Fellow, Boston University School of Social Work, Boston, MA
Ruth Paris, PhD, Associate Professor, Boston University, Boston, MA
Background and Purpose: Maternal trauma can lead to poor maternal 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 have been linked to poor parent-child relationships (Chung et al., 2020). Latinx immigrants are exposed to a myriad of pre-migration and migration trauma and are a high-risk group for serious trauma-related mental health outcomes. Despite the association between maternal trauma and parenting stress seen among Caucasian parents (Ammerman et al., 2013), little is known about the impact of trauma on Latinx immigrant mothers 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 self-reported maternal posttraumatic stress symptoms on parenting stress, and the mediating role of protective factors for Latinx mothers with young children.

Methods: Baseline data collected from Latinx mothers participating in a community-based parent-child dyadic program were analyzed. Measures included PTSD Checklist (PCL), four domains of family protective factors (Protective Factors Survey), and the Parenting Stress Index-Short Form (PSI).

Results: The sample included 80 mothers (mean age=30.1 years) most of whom identified as ethnically Central American, with a dyad child between 0-84 months (mean=32.3) and largely low-income (76% reporting household income <$25,000). Parents reported having experienced nine traumatic life events, on average, including sudden or unexpected death of someone close, serious financial problems, and physical and emotional abuse. Pearson’s correlation results showed a positive association between the outcome (parenting stress) and maternal posttraumatic stress symptoms, and negative associations between parenting stress and three protective factors, family functioning/resiliency, social support, and nurturance and attachment. Maternal posttraumatic stress symptoms was also negatively associated with family functioning/resiliency, and social support. A multivariate regression analysis showed that maternal posttraumatic stress symptoms predicted higher levels of parenting stress (B=0.37, SE=0.15, p=0.02, R2=0.07, df=1,78, F=5.93). Among the protective factors, both social support and family functioning/resiliency fully mediated the relationship between maternal posttraumatic stress symptoms and parenting stress (indirect effect sizes were 0.236 and 0.243 respectively, significant at a=0.01 level).

Conclusions and Implications: Results suggest that stronger social support and family functioning/resiliency for the mothers act as “buffers” for mothers despite their trauma-related symptoms, and has a protective effect on parenting stress. Increasing social support networks and family functioning may help mitigate the impact of maternal trauma on mothers’ stress related to parenting. Findings underscore the importance of interventions that enhance access to social support and promote family functioning/resilience for Latinx immigrant mothers with trauma histories to cope better with parenting stress.