The study of dynamic predictors of discontinuity in parenting quality over time has been largely absent from the literature on the etiology of parenting. Yet ecological and family systems theories predict that parenting should be impacted by changes in the familial and extra-familial context in which the parent-child relationship develops. The present study examined the effects of change in life stress and change in romantic relationship quality, and the interaction between the two, on change in observed parenting quality over time. Participants (N = 168), drawn from a 34-year longitudinal study of risk and adaptation, were observed in mother-child interactions when the children were 24 months, 42 months, and 13 years old. Parents also reported their experiences of life stress and romantic relationship tension across this time period. Path models were used to examine change in observed parenting quality over time as a result of changes in romantic relationship quality, changes in extra-familial life stress, and the interaction between the two. While results were generally not consistent with hypotheses, significant interactions between relationship quality and life stress, and significant gender differences, emerged consistently across models. This highlights the need for future studies to examine the effects of multiple contextual variables on discontinuity in parenting, and the ways in which these contextual factors interact to predict change in parenting. It also emphasizes the importance of studying the etiology of both father-child and mother-child relationships and the mechanisms underlying change in opposite-sex and same-sex parent-child relationships. Finally, results illustrate the methodological and theoretical complexity of studying the dynamic nature of parent-child relationships and the ways in which they change over time.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2010. Major: Child Psychology. Advisors: W. Andrew Collins and L. Alan Sroufe. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 150 pages, appendices 1-5.
Hesemeyer, Paloma Shon-nie.
Relationship tension and contextual stress as factors promoting discontinuity in parenting quality across time..
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