Differences in observed parenting behaviors of Latino and non-Latino caregivers
Latinos are the fastest growing population in the United States and experience serious economic, educational, and health disparities compared to non-Latino populations. Consistent, high-quality parenting can help protect children from the influence of such disparities. Parenting interventions can work with caregivers to improve the quality of parenting. However, most interventions are built upon theories and research based on predominantly White, middle-class samples, and may therefore not be optimal when used with minority populations. This study examined the parenting behaviors of Latino and non-Latino caregivers during interactions with their young children. The purpose was to develop a more detailed understanding of the similarities and differences in parenting practices of Latino and non-Latino caregivers in order to inform decisions about interventions and programs to support quality parenting among Latino families in the United States. Structured observations were conducted using the Keys to Interactive Parenting Scale, which focuses on 12 parenting behaviors known to be important for child development. The sample consisted of 1,474 child-caregiver dyads who were participating in early childhood programs for at-risk children and families in Kansas. Results indicated small differences in six parenting behaviors, but revealed more similarities than differences overall. Contrary to previous research, there was no indication that Latino caregivers in this study exhibited more authoritarian parenting than non-Latino caregivers. An unexpected finding was that parenting behaviors were more strongly associated with demographic factors, such as income and education, for non-Latino caregivers than for Latino caregivers. Results were both consistent and inconsistent with previous research on Latino parenting. Future research should examine these parenting behaviors against the backdrop of participants' generation status, country of origin, and acculturation level.
Thesis (Ph.D.)-- Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of Psychology