Mexican-origin parents' differential treatment and siblings' adjustment from adolescence to young adulthood

Jenny Padilla, Susan M. McHale, Kimberly Updegraff, Adriana J. Umaña-Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Parents' differential treatment is a common family dynamic that has been linked to youth's well-being in childhood and adolescence in European American families. Much less is known, however, about this family process in other ethnic groups. The authors examined the longitudinal associations between parents' differential treatment (PDT) and both depressive symptoms and risky behaviors of Mexican-origin sibling pairs from early adolescence through young adulthood. They also tested the moderating roles of cultural orientations as well as youth age, gender and sibling dyad gender constellation in these associations. Participants were mothers, fathers, and 2 siblings from 246 Mexican-origin families who participated in individual home interviews on 3 occasions over 8 years. Multilevel models revealed that, controlling for dyadic parent-child relationship qualities (i.e., absolute levels of warmth and conflict), adolescents who had less favorable treatment by mothers relative to their sibling reported more depressive symptoms and risky behavior, on average. Findings for fathers' PDT emerged at the within-person level indicating that, on occasions when adolescents experienced less favorable treatment by fathers than usual, they reported more depressive symptoms and risky behavior. However, some of these effects were moderated by youth age and cultural socialization. For example, adolescents who experienced relatively less paternal warmth than their siblings also reported poorer adjustment, but this effect did not emerge for young adults; such an effect also was significant for unfavored youth with stronger but not weaker cultural orientations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)955-965
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Adolescence
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Mexican American families
  • Parents' differential treatment
  • Young adult siblings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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