Friend Support and the Parenting of Latina Adolescent Mothers: The Moderating Role of Maternal Age

  • Stephanie G. Silberman
  • Josefina M. GrauEmail author
  • Patricia Castellanos
  • Petra A. Duran
  • Erin Smith
Original Paper



This study examined the role of maternal age in the relation between social support from friends and parenting adjustment in a sample of young Latina mothers and their 18-month-old children (N = 168).


Hierarchical multiple regression analyses tested friend social support types (emotional, socializing, child care) as differential predictors of maternal behavior (sensitivity, cognitive growth-fostering, detachment) displayed during mother-child play interactions. To consider maternal development, the moderating role of maternal age on these associations was tested.


The relations between friend emotional and child care support and parenting were moderated by maternal age. Emotional support was related to the use of more growth-fostering parenting behaviors for older (≥19.5 years), but not for younger Latina mothers. Child care support from friends was related to the display of more detachment and less cognitive growth-fostering behaviors among the younger (≤18.7 years) mothers only. Immigrant mothers reported significantly less overall friend support and emotional support than mothers born in the mainland U.S.


The findings emphasize the importance of assessing the types of friend support as separate measures in an ecological context that takes into account mothers’ generational and developmental level.


Social support Parenting Adolescent mothers Latinas Maternal age 



The research reported in this article was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health under award number R01HD46554 to the second author. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. We thank the families who participated in the study, project staff and the students who worked on the project. This research was conducted in partial fulfilment of the first author’s M.A. degree at Kent State University.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Bámaca-Colbert, M. Y., Tilghman-Osborne, E. M., Calderón-López, S., & Moore, A. M. (2017). Perceptions of support from mothers, fathers, and friends: direct and indirect associations with the psychological adjustment of Mexican-origin girls. Journal of Latina/o Psychology, 5, 142–156. Scholar
  2. Belsky, J. (1984). The determinants of parenting: a process model. Child Development, 55(1), 83–96. Scholar
  3. Berlin, L. J., Brady-Smith, C., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2002). Links between childbearing age and observed maternal behaviors with 14-month-olds in the early head start research and evaluation project. Infant Mental Health Journal, 23, 104–129. Scholar
  4. Bornstein, M. H., & Putnick, D. L. (2007). Chronological age, cognitions, and practices in European American mothers: a multivariate study of parenting. Developmental Psychology, 43, 850–864. Scholar
  5. Bornstein, M. H., Putnick, D. L., Suwalsky, J. T., & Gini, M. (2006). Maternal chronological age, prenatal and perinatal history, social support, and parenting of infants. Child Development, 77, 875–892. Scholar
  6. Bravo, D. Y., Derlan, C. L., Umaña-Taylor, A. J., Updegraff, K. A., & Jahromi, L. B. (2018). Processes underlying Mexican-origin adolescent mothers’ BMI. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 24, 284–293. Scholar
  7. Carlo, G., Koller, S., Raffaelli, M., & de Guzman, M. R. T. (2007). Culture-related strengths among Latin American families: a case study of Brazil. Marriage and Family Review, 41, 335–360. Scholar
  8. Ceballo, R., & McLoyd, V. C. (2002). Social support and parenting in poor, dangerous neighborhoods. Child Development, 73, 1310–1321. Scholar
  9. Chang, J., Chen, C., & Alegría, M. (2014). Contextualizing social support: pathways to help seeking in Latinos, Asian Americans, and Whites. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 33, 1–24. Scholar
  10. Collins, N. L., Dunkel-Schetter, C., Lobel, M., & Scrimshaw, S. C. (1993). Social support in pregnancy: psychosocial correlates of birth outcomes and postpartum depression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 1243–1258. Scholar
  11. Contreras, J. M. (2004). Parenting behaviors among mainland Puerto Rican adolescent mothers: the role of grandmother and partner involvement. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 14, 341–368. Scholar
  12. Contreras, J. M., Lόpez, I. R., Rivera-Mosquera, E. T., Raymond-Smith, L., & Rothstein, K. (1999). Social support and adjustment among Puerto Rican adolescent mothers: The moderating effect of acculturation. Journal of Family Psychology, 13, 228–243. Scholar
  13. Contreras, J. M., Mangelsdorf, S. C., Rhodes, J. E., Diener, M. L., & Brunson, L. (1999). Parent child interaction among Latina adolescent mothers: the role of family and social support. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 9, 417–439. Scholar
  14. Contreras, J. M., Narang, D., Ikhlas, M., Teichman, J., Contreras, J., Kerns, K., & Neal-Barnett, A. (2002). A conceptual model of the determinants of parenting among Latina adolescent mothers. Latino children and families in the United States: Current research and future directions (pp. 154–177). Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers/Greenwood Publishing Group.Google Scholar
  15. Crase, S. J., Hockaday, C., & McCarville, P. C. (2007). Brief report: perceptions of positive and negative support: do they differ for pregnant/parenting adolescents and nonpregnant, nonparenting adolescents? Journal of Adolescence, 30, 505–512. Scholar
  16. Crnic, K., Greenberg, M., & Boukydis, C. (1987). Maternal stress, social support, and coping: Influences on early mother-child relationship. Research on support for parents and infants in the postnatal period (pp. 25–40). NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar
  17. Crnic, K. A., Greenberg, M. C., Ragozin, A. S., Robinson, N. M., & Basham, R. (1983). Effects of stress and social supports on mothers in premature and full term infants. Child Development, 54, 209–217. Scholar
  18. Devereux, P. G., Weigel, D. J., Ballard-Reisch, D., Leigh, G., & Cahoon, K. L. (2009). Immediate and longer-term connection between support and stress in pregnant/parenting and non-pregnant/non-parenting adolescents. Child Adolescent Social Work Journal, 26, 431–446. Scholar
  19. Davis, A. A. (2002). Younger and older African American adolescent mothers’ relationships with their mothers and female peers. Journal of Adolescent Research, 17(5), 491–508. Scholar
  20. de Guzman, M. R. T., Jung, E., & Anh Do, K. (2012). Perceived social support networks and prosocial outcomes among Latino/a youth in the United States. Revista Interamericana de Psicología, 46, 413–424.Google Scholar
  21. Diniz, E., DeSousa, D., Koller, S. H., & Volling, B. L. (2016). Longitudinal effects of contextual and factors on mother-infant interactions among Brazilian adolescent mothers. Infant Behavior &Development, 43, 36–43. Scholar
  22. Driscoll, J. R., & Easterbrooks, M. (2007). Young mother’s play with their toddlers: individual variability as a function of psychosocial factors. Infant and Child Development, 16, 649–670. Scholar
  23. Easterbrooks, M. A., Chaudhuri, J. H., & Gestsdottir, S. (2005). Patterns of emotional availability among young mothers and their infants: a dyadic, contextual analysis. Infant Mental Health Journal, 26, 309–326. Scholar
  24. Ensor, R., & Hughes, C. (2010). With a little help from my friends: maternal social support, via parenting, promotes willingness to share in preschoolers born to young mothers. Infant and Child Development, 19, 127–141. Scholar
  25. Gee, C., & Rhodes, J. (2007). A social support and social strain measure for minority adolescent mothers: a confirmatory factor analytic study. Child: Care, health and development, 34, 87–97. Scholar
  26. Grau, J., Wilson, K., Weller, E., Castellanos, P., Duran, P., Maholmes, V., & King, R. B. (2012). Adolescent parenting. The Oxford Handbook of Poverty and Child Development. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Grau, J. M., Duran, P. A., Castellanos, P., Smith, E., Silberman, S. G., & Wood, L. E. (2015). Developmental outcomes of toddlers of young Latina mothers: cultural, family and parenting factors. Infant Behavior and Development, 41, 113–126. Scholar
  28. Hamilton, B. E., Martin, J. A., Osterman, M. J. K., Curtin, S. C., & Matthews, T. J. (2015). Births: Final data for 2014. National Vital Statistics Reports, 64. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.Google Scholar
  29. Herrman, J. W. (2008). Adolescent perceptions of teen births. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, 37, 42–50. Scholar
  30. Hoffman, S. D., & Maynard, R. A. (2008). The costs of adolescent childbearing. In S. D. Hoffman. & R. A. Maynard (Eds), Kids having kids: Economic costs and social consequences of teen pregnancy. 2nd ed. (pp. 359–402). Washington D.C: The Urban Inst.Google Scholar
  31. Huang, C. Y., Roberts, Y. H., Costeines, J., & Kaufman, J. S. (2019). Longitudinal trajectories of parenting stress among ethnic minority adolescent mothers. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 28, 1368–1378. Scholar
  32. Isabella, R. A. (1993). Origins of attachment: maternal behavior across the first year. Child Development, 64, 605–621. Scholar
  33. Jahromi, L. B., Guimond, A. B., Umaña-Taylor, A. J., Updegraff, K. A., & Toomey, R. B. (2014). Family context, Mexican-origin adolescent mothers’ parenting knowledge, and children’s subsequent developmental outcomes. Child Development, 85, 593–609. Scholar
  34. Leadbeater, B. J., & Linares, O. (1992). Depressive symptoms in Black and Puerto Rican adolescent mothers in the first 3 years postpartum. Development and Psychopathology, 4, 451–468. Scholar
  35. Leonardo, J. B. (2016). Beyond assimilation: contributions of sociodemographic factors and social supports to disparities in depressive symptoms between immigrant and native adolescents. Youth and Society, 48, 834–855. Scholar
  36. López, M., & Cooper, L. (2011). Social Support Measures Review. Bethesda, MD: National Center for Latino Child and Family Research.
  37. Mollborn, S., & Morningstar, E. (2009). Investigating the relationship between teenage childbearing and psychological distress using longitudinal evidence. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 50, 310–326. Scholar
  38. Nadeem, E., & Romo, L. F. (2008). Low-income Latina mothers’ expectations for their pregnant daughters’ autonomy and interdependence. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 18, 215–238. Scholar
  39. Nath, P. S., Borkowski, J. G., Whitman, T. L., & Schellenbach, C. J. (1991). Understanding adolescent parenting: The dimensions and functions of social support. Family Relations, 40(4), 411–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. (2001). Nonmaternal care and family factors in early development: an overview of the NICHD Study of Early Child Care. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 22, 457–492. Scholar
  41. Richardson, R. A., Barbour, N. E., & Bubenzer, D. L. (1991). Bittersweet connections: Informal social networks as sources of support and interference for adolescent mothers. Family Relations, 40, 430–434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Richardson, R. A., Barbour, N. E., & Bubenzer, D. L. (1995). Peer relationships as a source of support for adolescent mothers. Journal of Adolescent Research, 10, 278–290. Scholar
  43. Rini, C., Dunkel-Schetter, C., Hobel, C. J., Glynn, L. M., & Sandman, C. A. (2006). Effective social support: antecedents and consequences of partner support during pregnancy. Personal Relationships, 13, 207–229. Scholar
  44. Roisman, G. I., Newman, D. A., Fraley, R. C., Haltigan, J. D., Groh, A. M., & Haydon, K. C. (2012). Distinguishing differential susceptibility from diathesis-stress: recommendations for evaluating interaction effects. Development and Psychopathology, 24, 389–409. Scholar
  45. Sabogal, F., Marín, G., Otero-Sabogal, R., Marín, B. V., & Perez-Stable, E. J. (1987). Hispanic familism and acculturation: What changes and what doesn’t? Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 9, 397–412. Scholar
  46. Sellers, K., Black, M. M., Boris, N. W., Oberlander, S. E., & Myers, L. (2011). Adolescent mothers’ relationships with their own mothers: impact on parenting outcomes. Journal of Family Psychology, 25, 117–126. Scholar
  47. Spieker, S. J., & Bensley, L. (1994). Roles of living arrangements and grandmother social support in adolescent mothering and infant attachment. Developmental Psychology, 30, 102–111. Scholar
  48. Suarez-Orozco, C., & Suarez-Orozco, M. (1995). Transformations: Immigration, family life, and achievement motivation among Latino adolescents. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Stanton-Salazar, R. D., & Spina, S. U. (2005). Adolescent peer networks as a context for social and emotional support. Youth & Society, 36, 379–417. Scholar
  50. Steinberg, L., & Morris, A. S. (2001). Adolescent development. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 83–110. Scholar
  51. Thompson, R. A., Flood, M. F., & Goodvin, R. (2006). Social support and developmental psychopathology. In D. Cicchetti. & D. J. Cohen (Eds.), Developmental psychopathology: Risk, disorder, and adaptation. 2nd Ed. (pp. 1–37). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. Vol. 3.Google Scholar
  52. Thompson, M. S., & Peebles-Wilkins, W. (1992). The impact of formal, informal, and societal support networks on the psychological well-being of Black adolescent mothers. Social Work, 37, 322–328. Scholar
  53. Uchino, B. N. (2009). Understanding the links between social support and physical health: a life-span perspective with emphasis on the separability of perceived and received support. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4, 236–255. Scholar
  54. Umaña-Taylor, A., Guimond, A. B., Updegraff, K. A., & Jahromi, L. B. (2013). A longitudinal examination of support, self-esteem, and Mexican-origin adolescent mothers’ parenting efficacy. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 75(3), 746–759. Scholar
  55. Unger, D., & Wandersman, L. (1985). Social support and adolescent mothers: Action research contributions to theory and application. Journal of Social Issues, 41, 29–45. Scholar
  56. University of Chicago Family Planning and Contraceptive Research, (2011). Relationships between adolescent mothers and their peers during the transition to parenthood.
  57. Voight, J. D., Hans, S. L., & Bernstein, V. J. (1996). Support networks of adolescent mothers: Effects on parenting experience and behavior. Infant Mental Health Journal, 17, 58–73.<58::AID-IMHJ5>3.0.CO;2-Y.
  58. Way, N., & Chen, L. (2000). Close and general friendships among African American, Latino, & Asian American adolescents from low-income families. Journal of Adolescent Research, 15(2), 274–301. Scholar
  59. Zeiders, K. H., Umaña-Taylor, A. J., & Derlan, C. L. (2012). Trajectories of depressive symptoms and self-esteem in Latino youths: examining the role of gender and perceived discrimination. Developmental Psychology, 49, 951–963. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Albany Medical CenterAlbanyUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychological SciencesKent State UniversityKentUSA
  3. 3.Hennepin County Medical CenterMinneapolisUSA
  4. 4.Texas Children’s HospitalHoustonUSA
  5. 5.Susquehanna UniversitySelinsgroveUSA

Personalised recommendations