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How do Mexican mothers impact their adolescent daughters’ ethnic-racial identity?

September 1, 2016

Ethnic–racial identity is a normative aspect of development that is linked with adolescents’ psychological, academic, and health outcomes. Despite this impact on well-being, less is known about the processes that underlie adolescents’ ethnic-racial identity. In this study, Chelsea Derlan, Ph.D., director of the EMPOWER Youth Lab, and colleagues at Arizona State University explored how Mexican-origin mothers’ cultural characteristics and efforts to teach their adolescent daughters about their culture (i.e., cultural socialization) informed youths’ ethnic-racial identity across 3 years. Results showed that mothers’ familism values and ethnic-racial identity exploration predicted mothers’ greater cultural socialization a year later with adolescents; however, cultural socialization did not predict adolescents’ ethnic-racial identity. Instead, mothers’ own ethnic-racial identity affirmation (i.e., positive attitudes toward being Mexican) predicted adolescents’ greater ethnic-racial identity affirmation two years later. These findings suggest that because teaching cultural traditions or history may not always include positive messages, it may be necessary for family members to model positive attitudes about their ethnic-racial group to adolescents in order to inform adolescents’ ethnic-racial identity.


Derlan, C. L., Umaña-Taylor, A. J., Updegraff, K. A., & Jahromi, L. B. (2016). Mothers’ characteristics as predictors of adolescents’ ethnic-racial identity: An examination of Mexican-origin teen mothers. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 22, 453-459. doi:10.1037/cdp0000072

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