In this study we examined patterns of mothers' and fathers' differential affection and discipline toward 2 adolescent offspring in 243 Mexican-origin families. Grounding our work in a family systems perspective, we used interparental patterns of differential treatment as an index of the coparental alliance and tested their associations with parents' reports of familism values, traditional gender role attitudes, and cultural orientations. We also sought to replicate prior research on European American samples linking interparental patterns of differential treatment to marital qualities (coparenting satisfaction, love, and conflict) and adolescent depressive symptoms and risky behaviors. Three interparental patterns emerged: families in which both mothers and fathers treated their 2 offspring equally, incongruent families in which 1 parent treated both offspring equally while the other parent favored 1 offspring, and congruent families in which both parents favored the same offspring. Most parents reported equal treatment, but others fell into the incongruent affection (30%), incongruent discipline (45%), and congruent discipline (16%) groups. Mixed model analyses of variances revealed that in families in which mothers and fathers both treated their offspring equally, parents reported higher familism values, more traditional gender role attitudes, and relatively stronger orientations to Mexican than Anglo culture. Consistent with previous research, interparental incongruence was associated with less positive marital qualities and more adolescent adjustment problems. Discussion focuses on the role of culture in shaping coparenting and the processes through which these coparenting dynamics are linked to marital and youth adjustment.
- Marital quality
- Mexican American families
- Parental differential treatment
- Youth adjustment
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