Complex Inequality: A Contextual Parenting Framework for Latino Infants

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Children and Youth Services Review

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Parental Stress, Children mental health


Latino infants and toddlers are rapidly becoming the most represented ethnic group within the overall U.S. child population, underscoring the importance of a comprehensive conceptual framework informed by the factors that affect their well-being, including their lived environments. Research that explores parenting among Latino families is limited or tends to portray a homogenized Latino experience, without accounting for within-group differences. This paper presents a contextual parenting framework for Latino infants that incorporates a more nuanced understanding of culture as well as its complex and reciprocal relationship with environment. It highlights the multi-level, multisystemic, contexts affecting these families on the present day. This framework hypothesizes that cultural beliefs around family and child rearing, as well as the environment — constituted of physical environment and social opportunities — influence parenting. Further, institutional and structural inequalities can significantly affect the environmental conditions that Latino families experience and are therefore examined in the model. The way parenting behaviors are understood and interpreted by researchers and practitioners has serious consequences for parents engaged in the child welfare system. This paper explores how vulnerable Latino families with young children engaged in this complicated system experience the factors described by the parenting framework.


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