Academic journal article Family Relations

Race as a Moderator of Associations between Spanking and Child Outcomes

Academic journal article Family Relations

Race as a Moderator of Associations between Spanking and Child Outcomes

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

Parenting beliefs, values, and goals are known to vary as a function of environmental and cultural contexts (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 2006; Dasen & Mishra, 2000; Rogoff, 2003). As a result, parenting practices vary across cultures because cultures differ in which parenting practices they believe will promote those values and goals (Mistry, Chaudhuri, & Diez, 2003; Super & Harkness, 1986). Such cross-cultural variation in a variety of parenting practices has been observed in several recent multinational comparisons (Bornstein et al., 2012; Gershoffet al., 2010; Lansford et al., 2014; Runyan et al., 2010).

In the United States, the notion of cultural differences in parenting has largely focused on one indicator of culture, namely the race or ethnicity of the parents, and on one indicator of parenting, namely physical punishment. Research on cultural differences in parenting has been driven largely by interest in the cultural normativeness perspective (Deater-Deckard & Dodge, 1997). According to this perspective, parenting practices have more beneficial (or fewer detrimental) effects on children when they occur in cultural groups within which they are normative, and they have more detrimental (and fewer beneficial) effects when they are nonnormative (Deater-Deckard & Dodge, 1997). The normativeness perspective hypothesizes that if physical punishment is administered in a cultural context in which spanking is considered normative and acceptable, then the child who is spanked will be more likely to accept and comply with the parents' disciplinary message, thus reducing negative behavior over time. By contrast, if physical punishment is administered in a context in which spanking is less normative and more aberrant, then the child will likely reject the parents' disciplinary message, and the discipline will be ineffective in promoting appropriate behavior and may instead elicit negative reactive behavior. This hypothesis grew in part from observations that Black parents tend to both endorse (Flynn, 1998; Mosby, Rawls, Meehan, Mays, & Pettinari, 1999) and use (Grogan-Kaylor & Otis, 2007; Slade &Wissow, 2004) physical punishment more often than parents of other racial or ethnic groups, and in part from findings in some studies that harsh physical punishment was not linked with child externalizing behavior among Black families but was linked with higher child externalizing behaviors among White families (Deater-Deckard, Dodge, Bates, & Pettit, 1996). The cultural normativeness perspective thus proposed that physical punishment has no impact, or a less detrimental impact, on children in Black families, who tend to accept the practice as a normal part of being a child in a Black family than on children inWhite families, in which physical punishment is less normative (Deater-Deckard & Dodge, 1997).

There is debate about whether race is a true marker of culture. According to some theoretical perspectives, ethnic groups are linked by a shared culture and social history, whereas race groups are linked by physical similarities and shared geographic origin (Hall, Yip, & Zárate, 2016). Yet in practice, race and ethnicity are often conflated, particularly for Black Americans, for whom a shared race means a shared history of slavery and continued pervasive discrimination based on skin color and geographic origin (Umaña-Taylor et al., 2014). Thus, while a person's race in and of itself does not connote a particular culture, in the United States black skin connotes shared experiences that may sometimes function as a culture that can shape parenting practices, including discipline. That said, using race to define culture is limiting, as ascribed race likely does not do justice to the diversity of cultural beliefs and practices within a race group. There is substantial variation in attitudes about and use of physical punishment within the Black community (Kelley, Power, &Wimbush, 1992). …

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