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Associations Among Familism, Language Preference, and Education in Mexican-American Mothers and Their Children

ROMERO, ANDREA J. Ph.D.; ROBINSON, THOMAS N. M.D., M.P.H.; HAYDEL, K. FARISH B.A.; MENDOZA, FERNANDO M.D., M.P.H.; KILLEN, JOEL D. Ph.D.

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: February 2004 - Volume 25 - Issue 1 - p 34-40
Original Articles

Latino families who express a higher degree of familism are characterized by positive interpersonal familial relationships, high family unity, social support, interdependence in the completion of daily activities, and close proximity with extended family members. Retention of cultural values, such as familism, may be linked to positive health outcomes; however, little is known about how families retain culture of origin values in the face of acculturation pressures. The current study explores acculturation influences as indexed by language preference and household education on maternal and child familism. Mothers and children of Mexican descent (fourth grade students) (n = 219) completed measures of demographics, household education, language preference, and familism. Three hypotheses were examined. First, we predicted that lower household education would be correlated with higher familism scores. However, contrary to our prediction, a higher familism score was significantly associated with a higher level of household education (p < .05). Second, we predicted that higher child familism would be associated with the preference for speaking Spanish. Children who preferred to use both English and Spanish (p < .01) or English alone (p < .05) had higher familism scores than those who preferred Spanish. Third, we predicted that lower child familism scores would be associated with greater differences in mother and child language preferences. There were no significant differences in child familism based on differences between parent and child language. Protective influences of cultural maintenance deserve further attention in longitudinal studies and in relation to the physical and mental health of youth.

Mexican-American Studies and Research Center, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

Division of General Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, and Center for Research in Disease Prevention, Department of Medicine, Stanford University, Palo Alto

Center for Research in Disease Prevention, Department of Medicine, Stanford University, Palo Alto

Division of General Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University, Palo Alto

Center for Research in Disease Prevention, Department of Medicine, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California

Received May 2002; accepted November 2003.

Address for reprints: Andrea Romero, Mexican-American Studies and Research Center, University of Arizona, Economics Building 23, Room 208, Tucson, AZ 85721-0023; e-mail: romeroa@u.arizona.edu.

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.