Raposa, E. B., Sánchez, B., O’Donnell, A., & Monjaras-Gaytan, L. Y. (2022). The roles of ethnic identity and stressors in natural mentoring support among Latinx adolescents. Applied Developmental Science. https://doi.org/10.1080/10888691.2022.2062360
Summarized by Ariel Ervin
Notes of Interest:
- Many Latinx youths experience substantial stressors as they face challenges associated with youth development and identity exploration.
- Although there’s a lack of research that assesses the effect natural mentorships have on Latinx youth, there’s a possibility that cultural factors affect adolescent-adult relationships.
- This study assessed whether Latinx youth ethnic exploration & affirmation and exposure to stressors were predictive of several natural mentorships traits.
- Youth who demonstrated more ethnic identity exploration perceived more familial mentor support during follow-up.
- Youth exposed to more stressors were less likely to pinpoint familial mentors and maintain Latinx and familial mentors throughout the study.
- Although they received notably more mentor support during follow-up, results suggest that this only applied to mentors that weren’t Latinx.
- Findings indicate that ethnic identity might be associated with mentorships via nuanced interplays between specific relationship traits and cultural values
Introduction (Reprinted from the Abstract)
This study explored whether Latinx adolescents’ ethnic identity and stressful experiences predicted characteristics of their naturally-occurring mentoring relationships with non-parental adults. Ninth-grade Latinx students completed surveys about ethnic identity, stress exposure, and their natural mentoring relationships during 9th and 10th grade. Youth who showed greater ethnic identity exploration in 9th grade perceived more support from mentors who were family members at follow-up. In addition, Latinx youth who experienced more stressors were less likely to identify familial mentors and to retain familial and Latinx mentors from baseline to follow-up. Youth who were exposed to more stressors also reported receiving significantly more support from their natural mentors at follow-up, but this association was only observed for non-Latinx mentors. Findings are some of the first to identify predictors of mentor retention and perceived mentoring relationship support among Latinx youth, and have implications for understanding intergenerational relationships that may promote resilience in this population.
Implications (Reprinted from the Discussion)
The present study explored whether youth ethnic identity exploration and affirmation, as well as exposure to stressors, predicted several dimensions of Latinx teens’ natural mentoring networks, using a large sample of 9th grade students followed longitudinally for one year. These findings are some of the first to describe multiple aspects of natural mentoring relationships among Latinx adolescents during a critical period of ethnic identity development—the transition to high school. Descriptive findings highlighted that Latinx youth were more likely to identify familial and Latinx mentors. Contrary to our hypotheses, the two dimensions of youth ethnic identity, affirmation and exploration, showed few associations with the natural mentoring outcomes tested. However, moderation analyses did suggest that youth who showed greater ethnic identity exploration perceived more support for their education from familial mentors at follow-up. In addition, youth who experienced more stressors were less likely to identify family members as mentors at baseline, and were less likely to retain familial and Latinx mentors from baseline to follow-up. Youth who were exposed to more stressors also reported receiving significantly more support from their natural mentors at follow-up, but this association was only observed for non-Latinx mentors. Many of these research analyses were exploratory in nature, given the dearth of empirical research on mentoring relationships for Latinx youth. Nevertheless, these findings are some of the first to highlight factors that may relate to aspects of natural mentoring relationships within this population.
Contrary to our hypotheses, neither dimension of ethnic identity was associated with the tendency of Latinx adolescents to report having Latinx mentors or familial mentors within their social support network. These findings are somewhat surprising, given that conceptual models of ethnic identity suggest that various dimensions of ethnic identity formation may influence the adults youth choose as natural mentors, and the way that they interact with their mentors over time (Darling et al., 2006; Liao & Sánchez, 2019; Sánchez et al., 2008). However, the present findings suggest that ethnic identity may relate to mentoring relationships through more nuanced interactions between cultural values and specific relationship characteristics. Specifically, greater ethnic identity exploration was associated with perceiving more support within mentoring relationships, but only for familial mentors. No association between ethnic identity exploration and perceived support was observed for non-familial mentors. These findings contradict our initial hypothesis, in that we expected youth higher on the dimension of ethnic identity exploration would be more likely to perceive support from non-familial and non-Latinx mentors as they sought to learn more about their identities. Instead, these findings suggest that youth who are actively exploring their ethnic identities may solicit and/or perceive additional support from their familial mentors as they seek out information about their ethnic group. Perhaps this increased reliance on mentoring support may be most likely with familial mentors because youth are more likely to share a specific cultural background, and to feel emotionally close, with familial mentors compared to non-familial mentors (Umaña-Taylor et al., 2013).
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