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

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Journal of Child and Family Studies


Objectives 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). 1234567890();,: 1234567890();,: Methods 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 motherchild play interactions. To consider maternal development, the moderating role of maternal age on these associations was tested. Results 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. Conclusions 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.