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Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal



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Latino youth are more likely to live under the poverty line and to become adolescent parents. Although research exists examining adolescent mothers, less is known about adolescent fathers, particularly Latino adolescent fathers. Much of what does exist uses a deficit lens, as opposed to one of strength and resilience. Although adolescent fathers sometimes do struggle in their transition to fatherhood, it is critical to understand the positive ways in which they adapt. The present study uses in-depth interviews and applies the vulnerability-stress-adaptation (VSA) model to understand parental adaptation processes among a sample of low-income Latino adolescent fathers (N = 11). Despite economic vulnerability, including low income and limited resources, fathers’ aspirations to provide for their children served as an adaptive mechanism. These aspirations were influenced by the quality of their relationship with the mother of their children as well as by cultural influences from their families-of-origin. Findings indicated the importance of a positive, holistic family experience that includes cultural notions of familism. By identifying the processes by which adolescent fathers experience vulnerabilities, stress, and adaptation to those stressors, it is possible to develop and implement culturally responsive and strengths-based services and policies to better support their transition, including those related to job readiness, relationship education, and family involvement.


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