Adolescents' Daily Assistance to the Family in Response to Maternal Need

Authors


Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, 1285 Franz Hall, Box 951563, Los Angeles, CA 90095 (kimtsai@ucla.edu).

Abstract

Although children's provision of family assistance is a common routine, little is understood about the day-to-day variability that may exist in children's assistance behaviors. Guided by a family systems framework, the current study examined whether Mexican American adolescents' provision of family assistance was contingent on daily maternal need. Adolescents (N = 354, 49% males, Mage = 14.96 years) and their mothers (Mage = 41.55 years) each completed reports on 14 consecutive days. The results indicated that adolescents generally responded to maternal need, being more likely to help their families on days when their mothers worked or felt fatigued. This daily contingency was modified by family and adolescent characteristics, with adolescents thought to generally engage in low levels of assistance (i.e., youngest males and those in families with little economic strain) increasing their help when their mothers were fatigued. In contrast, daily maternal work did not appear to stimulate greater assistance among families with low levels of economic strain.

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