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Survey says: Mexican madres rate high on nurture scale

What’s the difference between a Chinese-born “tiger mom,” a U.S.-born white “helicopter parent” and a Mexican-born madre?

No, this is not a joke, and don’t even dare mention the chancla word. 

According to a recent study by a research team at University of California, Berkeley, immigrant Mexican madres argue less (39 percent less) with their husbands than Chinese women, have less depression than white women, and provide “warm and supportive home settings” for their families, despite their being poorer than the other two groups. 

The study was published in the September/October issue of Child Development. 

In addition, the study concludes that non-citizen immigrants tend to be more resourceful and ambitious than native-born white moms. 

The latest findings add nuance to the discussion of the “Latino paradox” among immigration researchers. The paradox refers to the fact that Hispanic immigrants in the U.S. have similar, or better, health outcomes than white U.S. citizens on many measures, contradicting the conventional wisdom that more prosperous and better educated people are healthier. 

However, not all was good news. The study also found that Mexican mothers didn’t read to their niños as often as Chinese-born and U.S.-citizen mothers, with the result that Mexican kids didn’t do as well as Chinese and white children in school. 

Mexican mothers read to their toddlers about 71 percent less often than U.S. whites, and Chinese mothers read to their young children 12 percent more than white moms.

That reading to kids can enhance educational success is a key finding that all mothers can take from this study. 

Researcher Bruce Fuller called the findings that Mexican madres can mitigate some of the downsides of poverty 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 on family,” he said.

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This Article appears on the December 2012 issue of LPM under LP Journal

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