The Differential Relationship Between Parental Worry and Adolescent Outcomes by Linguistic Preference Among Low-Income Mexican American Families

Jaime M. Booth, Elizabeth Anthony

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study examined the moderating effects of parents’ linguistic preference, as a proxy for acculturation, on the relationship between parental worry and problem behaviors among 130 Mexican American early adolescents (Mage = 13; 51 % male) living in public housing neighborhoods in the Southwestern United States. Based on the family stress model we hypothesized that adolescents whose parents reported more general worry would have higher rates of delinquency and substance use and those who reported higher levels of parental supervision would have lower rates of delinquency and substance use. We hypothesized that these relationships would differ by linguistic preference, with Spanish language being equated to less acculturation and more risky. Hierarchal linear models controlling for multiple children in the same family indicated that worry among parents predicted higher rates of delinquency and substance use for adolescents whose parents were more acculturated whereas no relationship was found for less acculturated parents. No support was found for the protective effect of parental supervision and parental worry did not predict levels of supervision. These findings suggest that global worry among parents may impact delinquency and substance use among adolescents in families with parents who prefer Spanish through pathways other than supervision. The protective effect of Spanish language preference, which may indicate lower parental acculturation among Mexican American youth, indicates the need for more research examining possible mediators of the relationship between living in high-risk environments such as public housing and adolescent delinquency and substance use in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1232-1242
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2015



  • Behavioral outcomes
  • Early adolescents
  • Linguistic preference
  • Low-income
  • Parental worry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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