A model of mother-child adjustment in Arab Muslim immigrants to the US

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We examined the mother-child adjustment and child behavior problems in Arab Muslim immigrant families residing in the U.S.A. The sample of 635 mother-child dyads was comprised of mothers who emigrated from 1989 or later and had at least one early adolescent child between the ages of 11 and 15 years old who was also willing to participate. Arabic speaking research assistants collected the data from the mothers and children using established measures of maternal and child stressors, coping, and social support; maternal distress; parent-child relationship; and child behavior problems. A structural equation model (SEM) was specified a priori with 17 predicted pathways. With a few exceptions, the final SEM model was highly consistent with the proposed model and had a good fit to the data. The model accounted for 67% of the variance in child behavior problems. Child stressors, mother-child relationship, and maternal stressors were the causal variables that contributed the most to child behavior problems. The model also accounted for 27% of the variance in mother-child relationship. Child active coping, child gender, mother's education, and maternal distress were all predictive of the mother-child relationship. Mother-child relationship also mediated the effects of maternal distress and child active coping on child behavior problems. These findings indicate that immigrant mothers contribute greatly to adolescent adjustment, both as a source of risk and protection. These findings also suggest that intervening with immigrant mothers to reduce their stress and strengthening the parent-child relationship are two important areas for promoting adolescent adjustment. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.