Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Study Finds Mexican Mothers Nurturing, but Less Likely to Emphasize Education

A study released this week shed some positive light on the nurturing nature of Mexican immigrant mothers, while at the same time confirming that a warm home environment doesn’t necessarily translate to educational success.

First, the positive findings on Hispanic culture. The researchers found that on average Mexican mothers established warmer home environments, had fewer fights with their spouses and were in stronger mental health than their white and Chinese counterparts.

Study leader Bruce Fuller, a Berkeley professor and sociologist, said the “robust social relations” inside of Mexican immigrant homes was the biggest surprise. These positives occurred even though Hispanics are significantly more likely to be poor.

“Until now, little national evidence has been available to distinguish the home settings of major immigrant groups,” study coauthor Claudia Galindo, a  University of Maryland sociology professor, said in a press release. “And many policy makers have assumed that poverty necessarily leads to poor parenting.”

But the study’s findings weren’t  all good news. Researchers observed that Mexican women read to their toddlers infrequently and also did not organize many educational activities. Early learning opportunities make children to more likely to succeed in school. In comparison, Chinese mothers provided their children many learning opportunities, but had more conflict in the home.

So how did the researchers make these conclusions? The research team tracked more than 5,300  Mexican, white and Chinese mothers from across the United States.  They conducted two home visits over the course of the three-year study, asking the women about their home lives. Researchers also observed the mothers interacting with their children and spouses.

A statistic raising particular concern: Mexican mothers read to their toddlers about 71 percent less often than the U.S.-born white mothers. Chinese mothers read to their toddlers 12 percent more often than white mothers.

The study notes that Mexican mothers reported that they had 21 percent fewer arguments than their U.S.-born white peers and 39 percent fewer arguments than Chinese peers.

The notion that Mexican mothers are more nurturing than white mothers is causing a stir over on The Huffington Post comments section, where the study was also highlighted.

The research was published this week in the scientific journal, Child Development.