Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 460–473 | Cite as

Father- and Mother-Adolescent Decision-Making in Mexican-Origin Families

  • Norma J. Perez-Brena
  • Kimberly A. Updegraff
  • Adriana J. Umaña-Taylor
Empirical Research


Understanding the prevalence and correlates of decisional autonomy within specific cultural contexts is necessary to fully comprehend how family processes are embedded within culture. The goals of this study were to describe mothers’ and fathers’ decision-making with adolescents (M = 12.51 years, SD = 0.58; 51% female), including parent-unilateral, joint, and youth-unilateral decision-making, and to examine the socio-cultural and family characteristics associated with these different types of decision-making in 246 Mexican-origin families. Mothers reported more joint and youth-unilateral decision-making and less parent-unilateral decision-making than did fathers. Fathers reported more youth-unilateral decision-making with sons than with daughters. Further, for mothers, more traditional gender role attitudes and higher levels of mother-adolescent conflict were associated with more parent-unilateral and less joint decision-making. In contrast, for fathers, lower levels of respect values were associated with more youth-unilateral decision-making with sons, and higher levels of parent-adolescent warmth were associated with more youth-unilateral decision-making with daughters. The importance of understanding the different correlates of mothers’ and fathers’ decision-making with sons versus daughters is discussed.


Adolescence Decision-making Gender Mexican-origin Parent–adolescent relationships 



We are grateful to the families and youth who participated in this project, and to the following schools and districts who collaborated: Osborn, Mesa, and Gilbert school districts, Willis Junior High School (Chandler School District), Supai and Ingleside Middle Schools (Scottsdale School District), St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Gregory, St. Francis Xavier, St. Mary-Basha, and St. John Bosco. We thank Mark Roosa, Nancy Gonzales, Roger Millsap, Ji-Yeon Kim, Jennifer Kennedy, Sarah Killoren, Lorey Wheeler, Devon Hageman, Melissa Delgado, Emily Cansler, Lilly Shanahan, and Shawna Thayer for their assistance in conducting this investigation. Funding was provided by NICHD grant R01HD39666 (Kimberly Updegraff, Principal Investigator) and the Cowden Fund to the School of Social and Family Dynamics at ASU. We thank Jean Phinney and Susan McHale for their comments on earlier drafts.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norma J. Perez-Brena
    • 1
  • Kimberly A. Updegraff
    • 1
  • Adriana J. Umaña-Taylor
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social and Family DynamicsArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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