Gabriela Livas Stein
We asked scholars to describe some of the following questions: What drew you to do work on Latino youth and families, or another topic that is important to you now? Who was an important mentor to you in this work, or was there a particularly influential study in the field or in a related field?
I am a big believer in mentorship teams, and building a network of folks who are able to provide you with support in all areas of your professional identity. I am lucky that I have been able to build such a network of peers and mentors that have guided me through this work (and academia!). I think being open to learning from all of those around you is key, but even more important, is realizing that you don’t need to be exactly like them to be successful, but instead, taking what they have to teach you and incorporating it into your own work and ideas.
We invited scholars to describe a recent finding, current study, or recent publication and what makes them excited about it.
We have a couple papers that just got accepted that I am excited will soon be out. First, we have a paper in Journal of Latina/o Psychology from a prevention study that tested the efficacy of a mental health activation intervention Latinx parents seeking mental health treatment for their children. Sub-group analyses suggested that the intervention was potentially more effective with parents with high levels of parenting stress and depressive symptom, as well as for youth with greater levels of pathology. We are currently seeking funding to extend this work to the schools as parental activation and engagement in school and health are both key areas to target future disparities. Second, in a paper just accepted to JRA, a former postdoc (Dr. Alyson Cavanaugh) and our group just examined the effects of peer and foreigner-based discrimination and the role of cultural assets mitigating risk for internalizing, externalizing, and academic outcomes. One novel thing we did in this study was define cultural assets as including identity, value endorsement, and enculturative behaviors, and we argued that potentially these culturally protective mechanisms synergistically contribute to well-being. Indeed, we found that it predicted better academic outcomes and buffered risk for externalizing symptoms when youth reported greater discrimination.
Describe its importance from any one or more of these lenses: a) research contribution; b) our knowledge about Latino youth and families; c) our knowledge about child development generally; d) practice or policy relevance.
I was excited both these papers got accepted around the same time as they exemplify both my applied and basic lines of research. The first paper highlights that we should be increasing our attention as interventionists to helping at-risk Latinx parents feel more empowered in their interactions with providers, and that the onus on the providers to provide culturally competent care that reaches out to families to build upon their strengths and partners with them as equals in care. It also shows that the most vulnerable benefit the most from such an approach.
The second paper speaks to an issue that I have struggled with since I started this work, which is when is specificity important in examining culturally-protective mechanisms and when is a more global approach more fruitful. I have argued for both, and I believe as a science we need to continue to test these questions. When do we need to know what specific aspect of familism values are protective for a particular outcome and when do youth and families need to draw upon a host of cultural resources to adapt successfully to their environment? The answers will dictate different sorts of intervention development, and I look forward to our field continuing to asking these questions as there is still so much left unanswered.
Upcoming publications we should know about?
I am excited to submit for SRA!
Reflections on Latino Caucus Experiences
Finally, we asked about experiences with the SRCD Latino Caucus: Why is the caucus important and/or your views on the role of the Latino Caucus vis-à-vis SRCD, research on child development, policy/practice.
I remember going to my first Latino Caucus meeting in Atlanta when I was just a graduate student. I thought it was so exciting to be surrounded by a group of scholars dedicated to the study of Latinx families, and I was inspired by all the senior people in the room who had been championing this work their entire careers. From that moment, I have been a member, and I had the honor of chairing the Caucus for the last two years. I felt that same level of inspiration working with all of the steering committee and sub-committee members. My involvement has helped me push my thinking as a scholar and dedication as professional. I was excited when we partnered with the other Caucuses as I think an important role the Caucus serves is to highlight to the larger SRCD membership the importance of understanding all communities and advocating for our science.