Learn about what we've found in our research.
- Sibling relationships
- Parent-adolescent relationships
- Sociocultural family processes in Mexican American families
- Gender differences
Changes in sibling warmth during first- and secondborns’ transitions to puberty
- Siblings who spent more constructive time together had higher self-esteem, but siblings who spent more time doing unstructured activities together had more feelings of depression, lower self esteem, and fewer social skills.
- Younger siblings had more decision-making independences than older siblings.
Birth order differences in decision making
- Positive sibling relationships did seem to buffer some of the negative effects of discrimination.
- Youth who reported high discrimination but had a positive relationship with a brother or sister had higher levels of school self-esteem. Youth who experienced discrimination and did not have a positive sibling relationship had much lower self-esteem.
Parent-child time together
Parent-child time increased up to mid-adolescence before decreasing. This finding is novel and contradicts the stereotype of teenagers withdrawing from parents. Instead, private time may be indicative of the increased intimacy that adolescents need and want from their parents.
Developmental course of total and private time with mom and dad
- Parents tend to spend more time with children of their own gender.
- The decline in parent-child total time was less pronounced for secondborns than for firstborns. Our past research showed that parents learned from their experiences with the firstborn and may be more motivated and able to maintain involvement with their later born.
Parent-child and romantic relationship qualities
- When adolescents had warm relationships with their mothers and fathers, they gave higher importance ratings to “good personality” when looking at traits for an ideal romantic partner. Also, adolescents who had warm relationships with their fathers also had stronger preferences for a partner with a strong family orientation.
- Parents’ personality characteristics were important for adolescents’ romantic preferences. When mothers and father had extroverted personalities, teens were more likely to prefer popular/attractive partners.
Parent-child relationships and school performance
- When parents, especially mothers, show interest in academic subjects themselves, their children may not lose interest as quickly.
- Mothers who reported that they expect their children to go further in school tended to have children with greater interest in academics.
Parents as a buffer for risky behaviors
- Mothers’ and fathers’ perceptions of their own knowledge were related to youth’s risky behaviors: When parents believed that they knew what their children were up to, youth reported fewer risky behaviors. When youth reported that their parents knew about their whereabouts and activities, they reported fewer risky behaviors.
Sociocultural Family Processes in Mexican American Families
- Both parents’ experiences, as well as their personal identities, shape the ways that they teach their children about culture, race, and biases.
- When mothers and fathers experienced racial discrimination at work, they tended to engage in racial socialization parenting practices more
- Mothers and fathers engaged in more racial socialization when their race was more central to their identity.
- How involved youth are in Mexican and U.S. culture makes a difference in the types of daily activities that they do, their feelings of depression, and how often they do things like steal or get in trouble at school.
How Mexican American teens spend their free time
Boys were higher in instrumentality (qualities of independence and competitiveness) overall. Girls’ instrumentality increased across middle childhood but leveled off in middle adolescence whereas boys’ instrumentality increased in middle adolescence.
Developmental course of instrumentality for boys and girls
Developmental course of femininity for boys and girls
- Girls were higher overall than boys in sensitivity and kindness, and they did not change much over time. In contrast, boys showed declines in their expressive qualities from middle childhood through early adolescence, but then began to “recover” in middle adolescence.