Boyer, C. J., Ugarte, E., Buhler‐Wassmann, A. C., & Hibel, L. C. (2022). Latina mothers navigating COVID‐19: Within‐and between‐family stress processes over time.

Objective: This study aimed to understand how periodic shifts infinancial cutbacks and fears of contracting COVID‐19 contributed tochildren’s externalizing behaviors due to increases in maternal stress amonglow‐income Latina mothers during the first 10 months of the COVID‐19pandemic. Background: The COVID‐19 pandemic caused widespread health,economic, and psychological consequences for families and children. TheLatino community is particularly vulnerable to the economic and health risksof this pandemic as a consequence of systemic oppression. The family stressmodel suggests that these family stressors will have psychologicalrepercussions to parents, and downstream behavioral consequences to children.Method: We examined both the within‐ and between‐person impacts of worrysurrounding contracting the virus and the economic consequences of thepandemic on maternal stress and child externalizing behaviors. Participantswere 73 Latina mothers who completed assessments an average eight timesacross the first 10 months of the COVID‐19 pandemic. At each assessment time,the mother was asked about worries surrounding contracting the virus,economic cutbacks the family was making, her perceived stress, and herchild’s externalizing behaviors during a brief phone call. Results:Between‐families, higher economic cutbacks indirectly increased childexternalizing behaviors through maternal stress. The within‐family modelrevealed that at assessments when mothers expressed greater worry aboutcontracting the COVID‐19 virus, they also reported greater stress. Further,at the within‐person level, a mother’s greater experience of stress wasassociated with greater reports of child externalizing behaviors, though theindirect association between COVID‐19 contract worry and child externalizingbehaviors through maternal stress was not significant. Conclusions: Acrossthe first 10 months of the COVID‐19 pandemic, the children in Latino familiesparticipating in this research exhibited more externalizing behaviors amongfamilies that engaged in more financial cutbacks as a function maternalstress. However, periodic spikes in Latina mothers’ fears of contractingCOVID‐19 contributed to periodic spikes in stress, which predicted periodicspikes in child externalizing behaviors. Implications: Greater effort towardsocial policy that provides economic support for vulnerable families beforeperiods of increased societal stress and greater protections for workers withlimited sick leave and schedule flexibility will help promote resilience tofuture crises among low‐income Latino families.