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Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology

An official publication of the International Society for Research in Child and Adolescent Psychopathology

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Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology - Interview with the Authors: Dr. Qiong Wu and Karina Jalapa

Qiong WuRCAP interview with Dr. Qiong Wu,Karina Jalapa Assistant Professor of Psychology at Florida State University and Karina Jalapa, a doctoral student at Florida State University about their recently published article titled- Multigenerational Homes Buffered Behavioral Problems among Children of Latinx but not White non-Latinx Mothers.

This study yielded culture-specific findings showing that only Latinx children benefited from living in a multigenerational home (MGH). What are the implications for these findings for theories of attachment? What are your recommendations for future research in terms of best practice for studying attachment networks and support systems?

Yes, we did find that Latinx children benefited from living in a multigenerational home (MGH) more than White, non-Latinx children who lived in a multigenerational home. Specifically, we found that Latinx children in MGH were less likely to have higher internalizing behaviors related to insecure mother-child attachment, compared to Latinx children in non-MGH homes; this effect was not found between children from MGH White homes and children from non-MGH White homes. The culture-specific finding provides support to Keller’s (2016) theoretical framework that emphasizes the need for culturally sensitive adaptations to attachment theory because attachment theory was originally founded on Western, White, middle-class ideology that is not universal to all culture groups, specifically to Latinx groups. An implication from our findings is that attachment theories need to consider the impacts of multiple attachment figures by expanding beyond the mother-child relationship. This is especially important to consider among non-western cultures that are more likely to live in MGH where there are more opportunities for grandparents to be involved in caregiving.

Although our research did not include attachment measures between child and grandparent(s), future research should consider evaluating how the relationship affects child and grandparent wellbeing.

The study found that children from Latinx non-MGH had higher internalizing behaviors compared to those from White homes or Latinx MGH at age 3 and found a moderating effect of MGH. Can you help readers understand how we might think about these findings clinically, in terms of implications for assessment and/or prevention/treatment?

Using a mostly low-income sample, we found that children from Latinx homes had similar internalizing behaviors compared to children from White homes; However, the children in Latinx homes who had a grandparent living in the household had lower internalizing behaviors compared to the children in Latinx homes without grandparents when the child was 3 years old. In terms of implications for assessment, our findings suggest the need for culturally sensitive assessments for child behavior. It is also important to consider including assessments for parenting behaviors and attachment that reflect cultural norms. As we noted in our study, many assessments used in attachment research are based on individualistic ideology, usually found among White, Western, middle-class families, which tend to encourage the independence of the child. Many cultures, including Latinx culture, put more emphasis on interdependence among family members. Understanding differences in cultural values can account for differences in parenting behaviors and child behaviors. Future research should consider assessing whether attachment measures are valid across different cultures and in creating measures that have culturally specific norms.

In terms of prevention and treatment for children with high internalizing behaviors and mothers with insecure attachments, more focus should be placed on involving grandparents as social support networks for mothers since they have been found to provide emotional support and occupy role of mentor for both mothers and their children, particularly among Latinx families. Family-based treatments should also consider multigenerational home structures and encourage participation from all members of the household. Our findings also suggest that interventions should encourage Latinx mothers to seek support in expanded family networks.

What advice would you give to early career researchers interested in working to promote mental health equity by developing culturally responsive practices and programs? Are there particular areas of study that you feel are particularly promising?

Our advice to researchers interested in promoting mental health equity is to focus on the addition of culturally sensitive elements to current interventions that have been established and have been successful at reducing the risk for child behavioral problems. Promising initiatives such as the Culturally Affirming & Responsive Mental Health (CARE) for kids and families in the state of Washington are dedicated to expanding culturally responsive child mental and behavioral health services to families in Washington by developing training strategies to increase culturally relevant and evidence-informed treatments. They are also expanding the public behavioral health workforce to include providers from different cultural backgrounds and lived experiences. More research is necessary to test the effectiveness of culturally sensitive additions to established interventions. Additionally, clinicians can choose to incorporate this type of culturally sensitive interventions and modules when working with populations of a specific culture.