Nair Dissertation Final - Dec 2021.pdf (2.63 MB)
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Positive Parenting and Adolescent Adjustment in Black, Hispanic, and White Families Facing Socioeconomic Adversity: A Resilience-Based, Two-Generation Approach

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posted on 2021-11-22, 15:04 authored by Nayantara NairNayantara Nair
Adversity stemming from socioeconomic risks poses a considerable threat to the wellbeing of parents and youth. Research has shown that children’s exposure to cumulative(consisting of multiple co-occurring risks), chronic(experienced across more than one timepoint), and early(experienced during the birth-to-three-year period) socioeconomic adversity is particularly detrimental to their development. The first aim of this dissertation was therefore to create a measure of socioeconomic adversity that incorporates multiple risk indicators, and that could be used to tap into both the chronicity and timing of exposure. Using this measure, the problem that this dissertation aimed to address is the conflicting evidence that effective parenting is crucial in facilitating positive outcomes in at-risk youth, but that parenting itself is severely compromised in families experiencing socioeconomic adversity. Therefore, the overarching goal of this dissertation was to identify protective factors that can be leveraged to promote positive cascades for parents and youth in the context of socioeconomic adversity. Paper 1 analyzed whether social capital facilitates parental resilience, or the capacity of parents to deliver competent and high-quality parenting to children despite the presence of socioeconomic risks. Paper 2 assessed whether positive parenting in turn facilitates adolescent resilience and well being, or the reduction of maladaptive outcomes and presence of flourishing outcomes despite their exposure to this adversity. Given differences in the experiences of socioeconomic adversity as well as its effects on parents and youth across race-ethnicities, a major goal of this work was to test dissertation aims separately within Black, Hispanic, and White families. Overall, Paper 1 findings suggest that social participation and perceived neighborhood control may attenuate the effects of socioeconomic adversity on positive parenting for Black and White mothers respectively. For Hispanic mothers, social cohesion was found to be a promotive factor for positive parenting in the context of socioeconomic adversity. Paper 2 results indicate that socioeconomic adversity is indirectly associated with higher levels of adolescent substance use in Black youth, and lower levels of adolescent wellbeing in White youth, through lowered self-regulation in middle childhood. However, higher levels of positive parenting in early and middle childhood seemed to weaken these negative effects within non-Hispanic families. These results reinforce the need to enhance social and neighborhood capital for parents facing socioeconomic adversity, in order to facilitate positive parenting behaviors that may in turn protect youth from its negative effects.


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Development and Family Studies

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Zoe Taylor

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Kristine Marceau

Additional Committee Member 2

Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth

Additional Committee Member 3

Yumary Ruiz