Psychological Science Faculty Publications and Presentations

Mothers’ Psychological Control and Accommodation are Associated with More Severe Anxiety in Hispanic Youth

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Psychological accommodation and control may help explain the finding that anxiety is more severe and common in Hispanic youth. Research with White samples conceptualizes psychological control as part of an authoritarian parenting style; however, research with Hispanic families suggests that psychological control is more likely to be indicative of a protective parenting style. Based on these findings, we hypothesized that in Hispanic families, psychological control would be related to protective parenting behaviors that ultimately maintain child anxiety. We tested a cross-sectional model hypothesizing that in Hispanic families the link between ethnicity and anxiety would be mediated through psychological control and parental accommodation of child anxiety, a parenting behavior which protects the child from the aversive experiences in the moment but ultimately serves to maintain child anxiety. A sample of mothers (n = 145; 48% Hispanic) and fathers (n = 59; 48% Hispanic) of youth from 8 to 18 years of age completed a survey assessing anxiety and parenting. With Hispanic mothers, the relation between ethnicity (Hispanic/non-Hispanic) and child anxiety was mediated through psychological control and accommodation. With fathers, although control was related to accommodation which, in turn, was related to child anxiety, ethnicity was not associated with control, accommodation, or child anxiety. Findings suggest that the context of parenting behavior should be considered in research, and adaptations of child anxiety treatments should consider ways to allow parents to express their desire to communicate warmth and protectiveness while avoiding negative reinforcement of child anxiety.


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Child Psychiatry Hum Dev