Academic journal article Family Relations

Dyadic Parenting and Children's Externalizing Symptoms

Academic journal article Family Relations

Dyadic Parenting and Children's Externalizing Symptoms

Article excerpt

We explore dyadic parenting styles and their association with first-grade children's externalizing behavior symptoms in a sample of 85 working-class, dual-earner families. Cluster analysis is used to create a typology of parenting types, reflecting the parental warmth, overreactivity, and laxness of both mothers and fathers in two-parent families. Three distinct groups emerged: Supportive Parents, Mixed-Support Parents, and Unsupportive Parents. Results indicate that dyadic parenting styles were related to teacher-reported externalizing symptoms for boys but not for girls.

Key Words: behavior problems in children, cluster analysis, dual-earner, dyadic parenting, externalizing symptoms, parenting styles.

Numerous studies have established that par- enting has important implications for many aspects of child development (e.g., Baum- rind, 1996; Kaufmann et al., 2000, Lambom, Mounts, & Steinberg, 1991). Much research has focused on two major dimensions of parenting, namely, (a) parental warmth and responsiveness and (b) demandingness or control (Amato & Fowler, 2002; Barber, Stolz, & Olsen, 2005). These two dimensions of parenting generally tap into the emotional climate and parental control of parent-child interactions and are the key dimensions that comprise Baumrind's parenting typology of authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive parenting styles (Baumrind, 1991).

Despite the large literature on parenting, little research has examined the combined effects of mothers' and fathers' parenting on children's development, although children reared in twoparent families clearly experience the influence of both parents (Martin, Ryan, & Brooks-Gunn, 2007). Moreover, findings suggest that parents contribute differently to children's development (Parke et al., 2005). For example, a mother may employ more warmth as a compensatory mechanism if her partner uses more harsh disciplinary tactics. Martin et al. argued that, " it is incumbent upon parenting scholars to devise ways of depicting children's parenting experiences in twoparent families that reflect the full complexity of the family (p. 436)." It is also important to note that parenting differs as a function of social class, such that socioeconomic disadvantage is associated with less warm and more controlling parenting (Conger, McCarty, Yang, Lahey, & Burgess, 1984). Thus, the purpose of the present study is to examine how mothers' and fathers' parenting, examined in combination, is related to behavior problems in their first-grade children within a unique sample of low-income, working families.

Parenting Types and Child Outcomes

One of the best known and most frequently researched parenting typologies was developed by Baumrind (1966, 1996) and is based on the dimensions of warmth/responsiveness and demandingness/control. In her typology, parents who are warm and responsive as well as effective at setting appropriate limits for their children's behavior are termed authoritative, whereas parents who are high in warmth and responsiveness but low in control are referred to as permissive parents. Finally, authoritarian parents are high in control, but low in warmth. "Unengaged" parents, low on both warmth and control, and "good-enough" parents, parents who fall in the average range of control and warmth, were added in later studies (i.e., Baumrind, 1996).

Decades of research examining the relationship between parenting styles and child development have found that across a wide range of ages and family types, children with an authoritative parent show better adjustment in multiple domains including academic competence, behavior problems, and psychosocial development, compared to peers with authoritarian, permissive, and neglectful parents (e.g., Baumrind, 1996; Lambom et al., 1991). When looking specifically at children's behavior problems, the pattern of findings is quite consistent. For example, using nationally representative data from the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH; Sweet, Bumpass, & Call, 1988), it was found that low levels of parental support and the use of harsh punishment were associated with more behavior problems in children aged 5-11 (Amato & Fowler, 2002). …

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