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Economic Pressure and Parent Acculturative Stress: Effects on Rural Midwestern Low-Income Latinx Child Behaviors

Contrary to the visible Latinx population growth in rural America, rural Latinx households have experienced far greater economic disparities compared to Whites. Family economic stress predicts parents’ emotional distress, lower family functioning, and places children at high risk for behavior problems. However, few studies have examined the combined effects of economic and acculturative stress on rural Latinx child behaviors, nor the family stress process among rural Latinx immigrant families in the Midwest, a new settlement area for Latinx and other immigrants (Kandel & Cromartie, 2004). Guided by the family stress model (FSM), we examined the relationships among economic pressure, parent acculturative stress, maternal depressive symptoms, parenting competence and child internalizing and externalizing behaviors using a sample of 148 rural low-income Latinx immigrant mothers in a Midwestern state. Structural equation modeling was performed to test these relationships. Results revealed that higher levels of economic pressure and parent acculturative stress were related to higher levels of maternal depressive symptoms, which in turn were associated with lower parenting competence and eventually linking to higher levels of child externalizing behaviors. Maternal depressive symptoms were positively associated with child internalizing behaviors. Parent acculturative stress was also found to be directly linked to child internalizing and externalizing behaviors. Intervention programs that aim to promote health and well-being among rural Latinx immigrant mothers and their children may find it beneficial to incorporate information and strategies that lessen parent acculturative stress and depression, promote parenting competence, and connect families to resources to help reduce economic pressure.