Parent Time Spent with Child: A Mediating Link between Family Life Events and Latino Citizen Children’s Externalizing Problems


Karina Muro

Publication Date



In the past decade, due to U.S. immigration policies, thousands of unauthorized immigrant parents, including parents of citizen-children, were detained and deported. Researchers have indicated that the mental health of Latino citizen-children is negatively impacted by the vulnerable legal status of their parents. Clear links were found between life events and children mental health outcomes, as well as links between the quality of parent-child relationship and child mental health outcomes. The current study was designed to examine whether parent-child indicators (i.e., parent-child perceived closeness and parent report of time spent with child) mediated the association between family life events and citizen-children externalizing problems as rated by teachers. Participants consisted of 37 citizen-children of unauthorized parents, and 21 citizen-children of detained and or deported parents. Child participants were between the ages of 6 and 12. The results were that parent report of time spent with their child did not mediate the relationship between family life events and children’s mental health outcomes. Closeness ratings did not vary sufficiently to be analyzed as a mediator. There were statistically significant differences by parental immigration statuses on five family life events. The author concludes that detained and deported parents experience significantly more life events when compared to unauthorized parents. A discussion regarding mental health implications and considerations for future research is presented.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD, Non-Clinical)

First Advisor

Rojas-Flores, Lisseth

Document Type





Family life, Hispanic American children, Children of immigrants, Parenting, Families, Problem children




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