Correlates of maternal teaching behaviors in low-income Dominican and Puerto Rican mothers
This study was designed to examine the correlates of maternal teaching behaviors among low income Dominican and Puerto Rican mothers. The sample consisted of 51 Puerto Rican and 50 Dominican mothers and their preschool children in Head Start Programs. The mothers were assessed on four exogenous variables: parenting stress, utilization of social support, acculturation, and available social support, and on two mental health measures, anxiety and depression. In addition, the dyads were videotaped while the mothers taught their children two cognitive-perceptual tasks using the Maternal Teaching Observation Technique. Raters scored the videotapes for frequency of maternal use of inquiry, directives, praise, negative verbal feedback, modeling, and use of visual cues. The data were analyzed to determine the relationships between maternal teaching behaviors and both the exogenous variables and the mental health measures. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were carried out to determine whether anxiety and depression mediated the relationships between the exogenous variables and the teaching behaviors. Correlations indicated a significant relationship between anxiety and the use of directives and modeling. Depression was related to negative verbal feedback and to modeling. Parenting stress was related to inquiry, praise, and modeling, and to anxiety and depression. The use of praise was correlated to social support. Acculturation was related to the use of praise, inquiry, and modeling. A significant relationship was found between anxiety and acculturation. Multiple regression analyses indicated that anxiety and depression did not mediate the relationship between the exogenous variables and the maternal teaching behaviors. Instead, parenting stress appears to mediate the relationship between mental health and teaching behaviors. In addition, acculturation appears to be a critical variable, determining parenting stress and social support and thereby affecting maternal teaching behaviors. Contrary to expectations, these findings suggest that both mental health variables of anxiety and depression and psychosocial factors appear to contribute separately to maternal teaching behaviors. Program development and interventions aimed at Puerto Ricans and Dominicans should target both mental health and psychosocial factors to enhance mother-child interactions.
0620: Developmental psychology