Does parentification place Mexican-heritage youth at risk for substance use? Identifying the intervening nature of parent-child communication about alcohol

Young Ju Shin, Michael L. Hecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Past research on parentification suggests that adopting adult responsibilities to the point at which the child plays a parental role places children at risk for poor mental and behavioral health outcomes. Since family relations are particularly important in Mexican culture, two hypotheses were posed to examine the indirect effects of parentification on Mexican-heritage youths' substance use via parent-child communication about alcohol, while examining the moderating effects of parent-child closeness. Mexican-heritage youth (N = 697) from 23 public middle schools in Phoenix, AZ completed surveys at three waves. Structural equation modeling results provided partial support for the hypotheses. Mexican-heritage youth experiencing problem-solving parentification were more likely to talk with a parent about alcohol and, in turn, less likely to use substances. This mediation effect, however, was not found with respect to adult parentification, and parent-child closeness was not a significant moderator. Implications for the beneficial effects of problem-solving parentification are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-159
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Adolescence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2013
Externally publishedYes



  • Mexican-heritage youth
  • Parent-child closeness
  • Parent-child communication about alcohol
  • Parentification
  • Substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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