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Response paper questions to consider:What is the author’s central claim, argument, or point? (This may be a place to start from in your response papers.)What evidence does the author provide to support their arguments?What could be added to the work to make it more complete?For instance, is there other media, especially empirical research, that we can use to support/refute/or add to the evidence?What assumptions does the author make?What did you find surprising, important, interesting, or relevant?What do these arguments mean for children?Response paper “Dos and Don’ts”:DOBackup your claims with science and relevant material discussed in classBuild off ideas mentioned in class, adding your own thoughts and insightsUse specific examples from the paper and, potentially, from other sourcesThink deeply: Analyze, Evaluate, CreateDON’TOnly summarize the paperMake superficial, obvious insightsSimply repeat ideas mentioned by others in class

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Developmental Psychology
© 2018 American Psychological Association
2019, Vol. 55, No. 1, 170 –183
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
Family Stress Processes and Drug and Alcohol Use by Mexican
American Adolescents
Monica J. Martin
Rand D. Conger and Richard W. Robins
Texas Tech University
University of California, Davis
The present study examines the influence of economic and family stress processes on change in drug and
alcohol use in a cohort of 478 Mexican American youth (50.8% female) followed longitudinally
beginning in Grade 5 when the youth averaged 10.4 years of age. Adolescents, their mothers (median age
36 at Grade 5), and their fathers (median age 39 at Grade 5) were assessed on economic hardship (Grades
5 through 7), family stress processes (Grades 5 through 9), and adolescent substance use (Grades 7
through 9). Hypotheses were derived from a culturally informed family stress model (FSM), which
proposes that economic hardship initiates a sequential cascade of problems involving parents’ emotional
distress, interparental conflict, disruptions in parenting and increased risk for adolescent substance use.
Structural equation modeling was used to test these hypothesized linkages and the findings were
consistent with predictions derived from the FSM. The results also demonstrated that parents’ familism
moderated the association between parent distress and interparental conflict, acting as a source of
resilience in this family stress process. Findings suggest that prevention and intervention efforts focused
on reducing caregiver distress and interparental conflict and enhancing parenting practices, as well as
policies that reduce the level of economic hardship experienced by families, may aid in the reduction of
adolescent substance use. Additionally, interventions focused on facilitating the cultural value of
familism may promote more positive interactions between Mexican American parents which, in turn,
may promote more effective parenting practices that help to reduce the risk for adolescent substance use.
Keywords: substance use, family stress model, Mexican Americans, familism, alcohol use
population, their increased risk for substance use, and the oftentimes serious consequences of that use—including mental and
physical health problems, lower educational attainment and earnings, and criminal offending and violence (Feinstein, Richter, &
Foster, 2012; King, Meehan, Trim, & Chassin, 2006; Odgers et al.,
2008)—it is critical to identify developmental processes that increase risk and promote resilience to substance use for Mexican
American adolescents. We pursue this goal in the present investigation using data from the California Families Project (CFP)—a
prospective, longitudinal study of Mexican American families.
The current study examines some of these developmental processes by (1) evaluating the degree to which the economic and
family stress processes proposed in the family stress model (FSM;
Conger, Conger, & Martin, 2010) contribute to the risk for substance use by Mexican American adolescents over time and (2)
considering a cultural asset common to Mexican American families—
familism—as a possible moderator of some of these family stress
processes. Briefly, the FSM proposes that economic hardship
initiates a sequential cascade of problems involving parents’ emotional distress, parental conflict, disruptions in parenting, and
increased risk for adolescent substance use (Conger et al., 2010).
These economic stress processes may be especially pertinent to
Mexican American families because they are more likely than
Extant research suggests that Hispanic adolescents, and Mexican American adolescents in particular, are at considerable risk for
substance use (Delva et al., 2005; Johnston, O’Malley, Miech,
Bachman, & Schulenberg, 2016).1 Moreover, Hispanics are the
largest racial or ethnic minority in the United States, representing
approximately 17% of the total U.S. population and that figure is
projected to increase to 31% by 2060 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014).
Among Hispanics, Mexican Americans are by far the largest
subgroup, representing 64% of the U.S.’s Hispanic population (for
comparison, the next largest group, Puerto Ricans, represent 9% of
Hispanics in the United States; U.S. Census Bureau, 2014) and
over 11% of the total U.S. population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2015).
Given the growing size of the Mexican American adolescent
This article was published Online First October 25, 2018.
Monica J. Martin, Department of Human Development and Family
Studies, Texas Tech University; Rand D. Conger, Department of Human
Ecology, University of California, Davis; Richard W. Robins, Department
of Psychology, University of California, Davis.
This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute on
Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
(DA017902). We thank the participating families, staff, and research
assistants who took part in this study.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Monica J.
Martin, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Texas Tech
University, Lubbock, TX 79409-1162. E-mail: [email protected]
For the purposes of this article, Mexican American is defined as
individuals of Mexican descent living in the United States.
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
other groups to experience extremely low incomes that often fall
below the official poverty line (Macartney, Bishaw, & Fontenot,
2013). At the same time, Mexican American families have many
strengths, including cultural assets that may promote resilience to
these stress processes. We build on previous research indicating
that familism (i.e., centrality of family) is a core cultural value for
Mexican Americans that may act as a protective factor for parents
and children (Ayón, Marsiglia, & Bermudez-Parsai, 2010; Gil,
Wagner, & Vega, 2000; White, Liu, Nair, & Tein, 2015). Specifically, we extend the FSM to include familism as a proposed
moderator of certain family stress processes. This aspect of the
study addresses the need for research to move beyond theories
based primarily on majority culture and to investigate the strengths
of minority populations and adaptive aspects of these cultures
(e.g., García Coll et al., 1996).
Previous tests of the FSM have found broad empirical support
for the FSM across developmental outcomes, such as internalizing
and conduct problems, and for families from different racial and
ethnic backgrounds and different geographic locations (e.g., Conger et al., 1992, 1993, 2002; Parke et al., 2004; White et al., 2015).
However, few studies have examined the FSM’s value in explaining the development of adolescent substance use, and none that we
are aware of have examined the FSM in relation to substance use
by Mexican American adolescents. Additionally, prior research on
the FSM consists primarily of cross- sectional studies, which
provide weak inferences regarding hypothesized causal relationships. Thus, longitudinal tests of the FSM are needed, particularly
evaluations which examine change over time in family stress
processes and developmental outcomes.
The current study addresses these shortcomings in the extant
research in several ways. First, the current investigation provides
the first test of the utility of the FSM in explaining the development of substance use by Mexican American adolescents. Second,
the current study extends the theoretical model to include an
adaptive aspect of Mexican American culture—familism. Finally,
the present study addresses the need for longitudinal tests of the
FSM by evaluating a model which controls for earlier levels of
family stress processes, parenting, and adolescent substance use,
allowing for a developmental approach in which we are able to
predict relative change over time in these key constructs and
examine how change in one construct relates to subsequent change
in another. Specifically, we evaluated the degree to which changes
in family processes affected by economic problems influence
change in adolescent substance use.
The FSM is a developmental model that proposes specific
processes through which economic hardship is expected to affect
child and adolescent development via disruptions in family relationships and parenting. The FSM’s focus on how economic processes unfold to affect families may be particularly relevant for
Mexican American families due to their overrepresentation among
those in poverty. Indeed, previous research has documented how
economic stress can disrupt the relationship functioning and parenting of Mexican American parents experiencing economic hardship (e.g., Parke et al., 2004). Yet, no research has examined the
FSM’s utility in explaining the development of adolescent substance by Mexican American adolescents. This is an important
oversight for two reasons. First, Mexican American adolescents
are at considerable risk for alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use.
For instance, Hispanic eighth graders show greater current alcohol
and marijuana use (i.e., last 30 days) than Black and non-Hispanic
White youth (Johnston et al., 2016). Among Hispanics, Mexican
American adolescents may be at particular risk. For instance,
Delva and colleagues (2005) found Mexican American eighth
graders were significantly more likely to have engaged in marijuana use and heavy drinking than Puerto Rican, Cuban, or Other
Latin American eighth graders. Second, evaluation of the FSM in
explaining Mexican American adolescent substance use may be
particularly valuable because the model elaborates the processes
through which economic hardship impacts adolescent substance
use. Thus, it suggests several possible targets for prevention and
intervention efforts.
As displayed in Figure 1, the FSM proposes that economic
hardship, in the form of negative economic events (adverse
changes in family economic circumstances, such as the loss of a
job or a foreclosed home loan) and low family income, increase the
degree of economic pressure experienced by parents (Conger et al.,
2002). Economic pressure reflects the painful realities created by
economic hardship— being unable to afford essential goods and
services, making significant cutbacks in daily expenditures because of limited resources, and not being able to pay monthly
bills—and represents the difficult experiences that give psychological meaning to living with economic hardship (Conger et al.,
2002). The FSM proposes that this economic pressure will then
function to increase the emotional distress (e.g., depressed mood,
anxiety, anger and hostility) of both mothers and fathers. Previous
research supports these predictions for majority (Conger et al.,
2010) and minority families, including Mexican Americans (Conger et al., 2002; Parke et al., 2004).
Also as shown in Figure 1, the FSM predicts that these disruptions in mothers’ and fathers’ emotional well-being will disturb the
functioning of their relationship, intensifying interparental conflict. That is, the increased emotional distress resulting from economic pressure will increase aggressive and angry interactions
within the parental relationship (Conger et al., 2010). Consistent
with earlier research and theory, the FSM proposes that interparental conflict will, in turn, negatively affect parenting practices;
that is, conflicts between caregivers will “spill-over” into parent–
child relationships by disrupting effective parenting behaviors
(e.g., Conger et al., 2002, 2010). For example, according to the
FSM these stressful conditions will exacerbate hostility by parents
toward children and will cause parents to demonstrate less care and
concern toward children because of the distractions created by
their stressful circumstances. Finally, the FSM predicts that poor
parenting will predict greater levels of adolescent substance use.
As a result of hostile and/or neglectful parental behavior, the
adolescent may resort to substance use in an effort to cope with
this unwelcoming and stressful home environment. Moreover,
parents who are troubled by their own conflicts may be too
distracted by these issues to monitor and supervise their adolescent, resulting in the adolescent having more opportunities to
engage in substance use.
Consistent with these ideas, the proposed association between
parenting and substance use has been found in previous research
with Mexican American families (Marsiglia, Nagoshi, Parsai, &
Castro, 2014; Martinez, 2006; Ozer, Flores, Tschann, & Pasch,
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
Figure 1. The adapted family stress model. Arrows in bold represent pathways hypothesized to be moderated
by attitudinal familism.
2011). For instance, using data from a sample of Mexican American families from Northern California, Ozer and colleagues
(2011) found that maternal and paternal warmth and acceptance
were associated with lower levels of adolescent alcohol and marijuana use 1 year later. Similarly, using data from a sample of 189
Mexican American families with seventh grade adolescents, Marsiglia and colleagues (2014) found that positive parental communication had significant negative main effects on adolescent alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use. Thus, consistent with these
findings and with predictions from the FSM, we expect that
low-warmth and high hostility in the parent– child relationship,
less effective child management and lower parental monitoring
will predict greater substance use by the adolescent.
Familism as a Source of Resilience to Economic and
Family Stress Processes
In the current study, we build on previous research and theory
indicating that familism may be protective for Hispanic adolescents (e.g., Gil et al., 2000) and parents (e.g., Ayón et al., 2010) by
examining familism as a possible source of resilience to certain
family stress processes within the FSM. Familism is a multidimensional construct that can be divided into attitudinal and behavioral
components (Calzada, Tamis-LeMonda, & Yoshikawa, 2012;
Sabogal, Marin, Otero-Sabogal, Marin, & Perez-Stable, 1987;
Villarreal, Blozis, & Widaman, 2005). Attitudinal familism refers
to feelings and beliefs regarding the importance of family, including strong feelings of attachment, loyalty, reciprocity, and solidarity. In contrast, behavioral familism refers to actions or behaviors
associated with these attitudes and beliefs, such as providing child
care or monetary help to relatives. Although behavioral familism is
important for Mexican American families, it includes behaviors
such as providing financial and instrumental (e.g., caring for
elderly kinfolk) support to relatives that are likely to be emotionally taxing, and thus may generate rather than alleviate stress for
families. Thus, there may be costs, as well as benefits, associated
with familism, particularly the behavioral elements (e.g., Calzada
et al., 2012). Furthermore, as Sabogal and colleagues noted in
1987, failure to distinguish between attitudinal and behavioral
familism may lead to faulty or contradictory conclusions. Accordingly, in the current research we focus on the attitudinal aspects of
Mexican American familism as a possible source of resilience to
family stress processes that contribute to adolescent substance
As noted previously, few studies have examined how cultural
values, especially those that may promote resilience to family
stress, influence the developmental processes specified by the
FSM. One exception is White and colleagues’ (2015) study of
parents’ familism as a potential moderator of the effect of economic pressure on parenting behaviors. Although the findings
were not consistent across parents (mother vs. father), reporters
(self- vs. child-report of parenting), or type of parenting (warm vs.
harsh), the results did indicate that mothers’ familism moderated
the effect of economic pressure on mother reported maternal warmth,
providing some, albeit inconsistent, evidence that familism may
act as a source of resilience to family stress processes within the
FSM. Importantly, White and colleagues’ study focused primarily
on behavioral familism. That is, their measure of familism consisted of the family obligations (e.g., “If a relative is having a hard
time financially, one should help them out if possible”) and family
as referent (e.g., “It is important to work hard and do one’s best
because this work reflects on the family”) subscales from the
Mexican American Cultural Values Scale (Knight et al., 2010).
Thus, the influence of attitudinal familism on family stress processes, and whether it acts as a source of resilience, is not known.
We address this issue in the current study by focusing on the
attitudinal aspects of Mexican American familism; that is, feelings
of attachment, loyalty, pride, reciprocity, and solidarity regarding
family. Specifically, we propose that parents with greater levels of
attitudinal familism will experience less interparental conflict and
fewer disruptions in parenting when economic pressure is high
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
(see Figure 1), which in turn reduces the likelihood of substance
use by the adolescent. That is, when parents have strong feelings
of attachment to and solidarity with their family, we predict that
they will be less likely to allow the emotional distress generated
from economic hardship to “spill over” into their family relationships. This hypothesis is also consistent with García Coll and
colleagues’ (1996) integrative model, which asserts that cultural,
religious, and adaptive family values will influence behavior displayed during family interactions. Although attitudinal familism is
not unique to Hispanic culture, its effect as a moderator of family
stress processes in Mexican American families may be especially
potent; previous research has suggested that these types of family
values are more strongly endorsed by Hispanics than non-Hispanic
Whites (Sabogal et al., 1987). Consistent with these ideas, our
extension of the FSM predicts that Mexican American parents’
attitudinal familism will moderate the expected associations between mother’s and father’s emotional distress and interparental
conflict, as depicted by the first two bold arrows in Figure 1. That
is, when individuals place great value on the sanctity of family and
feel strongly attached to their family, they may be less likely to let
their own emotional distress disrupt their spousal relationship.
Similarly, parents who feel strongly attached to and take great
pride in their family may be less likely to allow conflict with their
spouse interfere in their relationship with and parenting of their
child. Thus, as represented by the third bold arrow in Figure 1, the
model proposes that the association between interparental conflict
and poor parenting will be moderated by parents’ attitudinal
The Present Study
The current study tests predictions from the culturally informed
FSM pres …
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