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Unlocking the Power of Family Cohesion: How African American Youth Beat Anxiety in Adulthood

🌟 Unlocking the Power of Family Cohesion: A Key to Reducing Anxiety in African American Emerging Adults! 🌟

A recent article by Augustine, D. A., Koss, K. J., Smith, E. P., & Kogan, S. M. (2022) titled The influence of family cohesion on self-regulation and anxiety problems among African American emerging adults published by Plos One examined how family cohesion in late adolescence affects anxiety problems in emerging adulthood among African American youth from Maryland, using data from the MADICS study.

The study reveals that family cohesion was indirectly related to anxiety problems through self-regulation. Cohesive families supported the development of self-regulation, which in turn reduced anxiety problems among emerging adults. In simple words, the research revealed that when African Americans families stick together and get along well during the teenage years, it helps young adults to control their emotions better as they grow up. As a result, they tend to have fewer issues with anxiety as they become independent adults. The study indicates that having a strong family bond acts like a safety net for emotions, helping young adults cope with challenges and reducing their anxiety during this important phase of life.

The study used a secondary analysis of data from the MADICS Study of Adolescent Development in Multiple Contexts (MADICS), a longitudinal study that investigated the psychological and behavioural determinants of developmental trajectories of youth living in Prince George’s County, Maryland . The current study focused on the data from African American youth from Waves 4–6 (ages 17, 19, 21) of the study, as well as a latent variable created from measures of family cohesion provided in middle adolescence as a covariate (Wave 3, age 15).

The study measured family cohesion, self-regulation, and anxiety problems using various self-report scales adapted from previous studies. Family cohesion was assessed with four scales: family emotional support, supportive communication with parents, closeness with parents, and closeness with family members. Self-regulation was measured using eleven items from the Philadelphia Family Management Study. Anxiety problems were evaluated using the 8-item Anxiety subscale of the Symptom Checklist-90-Revised (SCL-90-R).

The study tested the hypothesis that family cohesion in late adolescence would indirectly effect anxiety problems in emerging adulthood through self-regulation, using structural equation modelling as implemented in Mplus. Structural equation modelling is a statistical technique that allows researchers to test complex relationships among observed and latent variables . The study controlled for antecedent family cohesion (Wave 3), self-regulation (Wave 4), and anxiety problems (Wave 5), as well as sex and family income. The significance of the indirect effect was tested using bias-corrected 95% confidence intervals procured from bootstrapping , a method that estimates the sampling distribution of an estimator by resampling from the original data. The study handled missing data using full information maximum likelihood , a method that uses all available data to estimate model parameters under the assumption that data are missing at random .

The study reported that the model fit the data well and that the indirect effect of family cohesion on anxiety problems through self-regulation was significant. This means that higher family cohesion in late adolescence was associated with higher self-regulation in emerging adulthood, which in turn was associated with lower anxiety problems in emerging adulthood.

Implications of the study

The findings suggest that families are important promotive factors for mental health during the transition to adulthood. Prevention programs that target family processes and self-regulation may help reduce anxiety problems in emerging adult African Americans. The study suggests that family cohesion, self-regulation, and anxiety problems are interrelated factors that influence the mental health of African American emerging adults. The study has several implications for prevention, intervention, and future research.

Prevention: The study indicates that family cohesion in late adolescence can have a positive impact on self-regulation and anxiety problems in emerging adulthood. Therefore, prevention programs that aim to reduce anxiety problems among African American emerging adults should consider targeting family cohesion as a protective factor. For example, the Adults in the Making (AIM) program is a family-based intervention that teaches parents and youth how to provide emotional support, communicate effectively, and cope with stress. The program has been shown to improve family cohesion and self-regulation, as well as reduce substance use among African American emerging adults .

Intervention: The study also suggests that self-regulation is a key mechanism through which family cohesion affects anxiety problems. This implies that interventions that enhance self-regulation skills among African American emerging adults may also help them cope with anxiety problems. For instance, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach that teaches individuals how to identify and challenge negative thoughts, regulate emotions, and engage in adaptive behaviors. CBT has been found to be effective in reducing anxiety symptoms among various populations, including African American emerging adults .

Future research: The study has some limitations that point to directions for future research. First, the study used a sample of African American youth living in Maryland, so the findings may not generalize to other regions or contexts. Future research should examine the effects of family cohesion on self-regulation and anxiety problems among African American emerging adults from different backgrounds and settings. Second, the study was correlational and did not establish causal relationships among the variables. Future research should use experimental designs or longitudinal methods to test the causal influence of family cohesion on self-regulation and anxiety problems over time. Third, the study relied on self-report measures of family cohesion, self-regulation, and anxiety problems, which may be subject to biases such as social desirability or recall errors. Future research should use multiple sources of data, such as observational or physiological measures, to assess these constructs more objectively.

In conclusion, the study by Augustine et al. (2022) highlights the significant impact of family cohesion on anxiety problems among African American emerging adults. The research demonstrates that cohesive families contribute to the development of better self-regulation skills, which, in turn, lead to reduced anxiety during this critical phase of life. These findings underscore the importance of promoting family processes and self-regulation in prevention programs to improve mental health outcomes for African American youth transitioning to adulthood. Interventions that enhance self-regulation skills and target family cohesion can be effective in reducing anxiety problems. Nonetheless, further research is needed to explore diverse populations and employ more objective measures to strengthen the understanding of these complex relationships.

 

Question for Contribution and Comments

Dear reader, we value your input! Kindly share your thoughts, ideas, and comments regarding the question below in the comment section. Your valuable input will help shape our next article:

“How might the intersectionality of race and socioeconomic status influence the relationship between family cohesion, self-regulation, and anxiety problems among African American emerging adults?”

Cite this article as (APA format):

African Researchers Magazine (2023). Unlocking the Power of Family Cohesion: How African American Youth Beat Anxiety in Adulthood. Retrieved from https://www.africanresearchers.org/unlocking-the-power-of-family-cohesion-how-african-american-youth-beat-anxiety-in-adulthood/

5 COMMENTS

  1. Wow, this is such an important topic to discuss! As an African American myself, I’ve seen how race and socioeconomic status can really shape our experiences. I think when it comes to family cohesion, it can be tough when financial struggles are present. It’s like a balancing act between staying close to your roots and striving for better opportunities. And that can definitely play into self-regulation and anxiety too. Great article!

  2. Thank you for addressing this. It’s crucial to understand how our backgrounds influence our mental well-being. I think the key lies in building a support system that recognizes both our cultural heritage and the realities we face. That, along with self-compassion, can help us navigate the challenges and anxieties that come our way. Kudos for diving into this important discussion!

  3. I completely agree, Adebayo! The pressure to succeed can sometimes lead to anxiety, especially when we’re trying to break free from historical inequalities. Our families want the best for us, but sometimes the expectations can be overwhelming. Finding that balance between staying connected and pursuing our dreams is something many of us grapple with.

  4. This topic hits close to home. Growing up, my family always stressed the importance of unity, but as we faced financial challenges, it did take a toll on our sense of togetherness. And you’re right, Nia, the weight of trying to prove ourselves in a world that hasn’t always been fair can really mess with our self-regulation. It’s like fighting two battles at once!

  5. I appreciate this post shedding light on such a complex issue. It’s interesting how the intersection of race and socioeconomic status can shape our experiences as African American emerging adults. I’ve noticed that when our families stick together through thick and thin, it can actually serve as a source of strength. But the pressure to overcome systemic challenges can definitely lead to anxiety. We need more open conversations like this!

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