Ecological contexts and family dynamics among Mexican American families

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In the present research, elements of the intra- (i.e., family dynamics) and extra-family (i.e., characteristics of parents' occupations) contexts were examined in a longitudinal design as associated, broadly, with individuals'

In the present research, elements of the intra- (i.e., family dynamics) and extra-family (i.e., characteristics of parents' occupations) contexts were examined in a longitudinal design as associated, broadly, with individuals' mental health, relationship quality, and future orientations among Mexican American families with adolescent offspring in two separate studies. The first study reviewed the utility of applying dyadic data methods to the investigation of family processes, explored the strengths three different analytic approaches (i.e., the actor-partner interdependence model, a two-intercept model, and a difference model), and applied them to the study of marital relationships (N = 246 marital dyads). Results revealed that spouses' marital negativity was related to their own somatic symptoms, whereas, spouses' somatic symptoms were associated with both their own and their partners' marital negativity, with some variations by approach. This study suggested the three analytic approaches, though designed to answer slightly different questions, yielded a similar pattern of results with several important differences. The second study utilized a person-centered approach to identify family-level patterns of both mothers' and fathers' objective occupational characteristics (i.e., self-direction, hazardous conditions, physical activity), as well as the larger sociocultural context of these patterns (N = 160 dual-earner families). Results revealed three distinct occupational contexts: Differentiated High Physical Activity, Incongruent, and Congruent High Self-Direction. Results indicated that families in the Congruent High Self-Direction profile had the highest levels of youth career aspirations, whereas, educational aspirations were the highest among youth in both the Incongruent and Congruent High Self-Direction profiles. Youth-mother and -father conflict was highest in the Congruent High Self-Direction profile, and youth-father warmth was highest for families in the Differentiated High Physical Activity profile. This study suggested that Mexican American parents work in varied occupational contexts, and these contexts were differentially associated with family relationships and youth's orientations toward the future.