, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 140-157
Date: 11 Feb 2010

Mexican-Origin Adolescent Mothers’ Stressors and Psychosocial Functioning: Examining Ethnic Identity Affirmation and Familism as Moderators

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Mexican-origin adolescent mothers are at increased risk for poor psychosocial functioning as a result of various stressors with which they must contend; however, existing theory suggests that cultural strengths may help mitigate the negative effects of stress. As such, the current study examined the associations between cultural and economic stressors and Mexican-origin adolescent mothers’ (N = 207; M age = 16.23 years, SD = 1.0) internalizing and externalizing behaviors, as well as the degree to which ethnic identity affirmation and familism values moderated these links. Adolescent mothers who reported higher levels of discrimination, acculturative stress, and economic stress also reported higher depressive symptoms and greater involvement in risky behaviors. Importantly, ethnic identity affirmation minimized the negative associations between cultural stressors and adolescents’ involvement in risky behaviors, with the associations being weakest among adolescents with high levels of ethnic identity. Familism appeared to serve a protective function under conditions of low levels of discrimination, but not under conditions of high levels of discrimination. Findings are discussed with special attention to the developmental and cultural contexts in which these adolescent mothers’ lives are embedded, and implications for future research and practice are presented.