This is really interesting and concurs with a lot of what we know about immigrant, Mexican mothers. I wonder though about the comparability of these mothers to those of other groups, i.e., white and Chinese. I would think that class was controlled for but this report doesn't say this explicitly. Will have to locate this study in the journal, Child Development.
According to a new study published Tuesday, Mexican immigrant mothers
performed better on some measures of parenting than white mothers did.
The study, conducted by a research team from the University of California, Berkeley, found that Mexican-origin
mothers provide "warm and supportive home settings," engage in fewer
conflicts with spouses and exhibit evidence of stronger mental health
than their white peers, despite higher poverty rates.
The study, published in the scientific journal Child Development, adds "nuance" to America's immigration debate, the research team noted in a press release.
Over a three-year period, from 2003 to 2006, researchers visited the
homes of and interviewed and observed 5,300 Mexican-born, Chinese-born
and white native-born mothers. Mexican-origin mothers were found to have
more than 20 percent fewer arguments with their spouses than their
white peers, and nearly 40 percent fewer arguments than peers of Chinese
heritage. Mexican immigrant mothers also had better results than their
white counterparts on an independent assessment of depressive symptoms.
On the other hand, Mexican mothers read to their children infrequently
and organized few educational activities that would advance
school-related skills, especially when compared with Chinese-immigrant
mothers. Mothers of Chinese origin performed better than the other two
groups on pre-literacy measures and worse on social ones.
“Until now, little national evidence has been available to
distinguish the home settings of major immigrant groups," said Claudia
Galindo, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland and one
of the study authors. "And many policymakers have assumed that poverty
necessarily leads to poor parenting.”
The researchers looked at data from a nationally representative sample
of births drawn by the National Center for Education Statistics, a
research arm of the U.S. Department of Education. All children involved
in the survey were born in the United States in 2001.
Bruce Fuller, another author of the study, called the findings about Mexican mothers as a "surprise."
"Poverty is definitely a drag on the well-being of families, but at the
same time, at least for Mexican immigrants, they have cultural strengths
that buffer the negative effects of family," he said.
But the extent to which "culture" accounts for the well-being of these families isn't so clear. A recent study by the Community Service Society of New York found that Puerto Rican youth in New York City are more than twice as likely as their Mexican peers to be out of school and unemployed.
Some scholars and commentators have argued
that the differences between low-income Mexican families and families
from other low-income groups have to do with historical and economic
factors. Many Puerto Ricans settled in urban areas in the 50 and 60s,
just as the manufacturing sector, which had provided stable work to
generations of new immigrants, entered a long period of decline.
Other observers say that non-citizen immigrants, by necessity, tend to have more ambition and resourcefulness than most people.
"That has an impact on the formation of families, and how people relate
to families and your relationship to the labor market has a major impact
as well," said Angelo Falcón, the director of the National Institute
for Latino Policy.
These latest findings come amid much discussion by immigration scholars about the so-called "Latino Paradox"
-– the finding that Hispanic immigrants tend to be healthier than their
better-off, non-immigrant counterparts, despite the prevailing wisdom
that richer people are healthier.