Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
John F. Knutson
Child maltreatment has been linked to a wide range of poor child outcomes. Although children's reports of parenting are essential within clinical contexts, such as child welfare investigations or forensic interviews, children's reports of parental behaviors are not widely used within research contexts. Delineating child reports of maltreatment and parenting in the context of research could enhance methods of assessment and inform clinical practice. Thus, the present research sought to examine the utility of children's reports of deficient parenting and maternal alcohol abuse in the prediction of childhood internalizing and disruptive behaviors.
Participants were 350 children aged 4 to 9 and their mothers, who were enrolled in a 3-year longitudinal study examining parenting and children's social development. A multi-method, multisource approach to data collection was used. Children's internalizing and disruptive behaviors were assessed at two time points occurring approximately 12 months apart, and were based on mothers' reports and research assistant observations. Information regarding parenting and maternal alcohol abuse was obtained from children, mothers, and direct observational measures. Structural equation modeling was used to explore the effects of deficient parenting and maternal alcohol abuse on concurrent and prospective child behavior problems. Age was included as a potential moderator of the link between deficient parenting and child behavior.
A single construct conceptualization of deficient parenting was not supported by the data and the influences of each aspect of deficient parenting were examined independently. Results were varied across informants and depending on the specific aspect of parenting being assessed, providing partial support for the hypotheses. Among younger children, child-reported care neglect significantly predicted later anxiety and was marginally associated with concurrent disruptive behaviors. Current maternal alcohol abuse was marginally associated with both concurrent disruptive and internalizing behavior. Among older children, the multi-source index of care neglect significantly predicted later disruptive behaviors, while the multi-source index of harsh discipline and child-reported supervisory neglect predicted concurrent disruptive behaviors. For both age groups, mothers' lifetime history of alcohol abuse significantly predicted concurrent and later disruptive behavior, and later internalizing behavior. Children's reported exposure to maternal alcohol abuse was significantly associated with concurrent disruptive behaviors. The link between harsh discipline and concurrent internalizing problems was marginally significant. Finally, supervisory neglect was associated with internalizing behaviors, but results varied depending on the measure of supervision used.
Current findings provided additional support for the utility of distinguishing between aspects of deficient parenting and examining the unique influences of aspects of parenting on child behavior. Overall, findings offer support for the predictive validity of children's reports of parenting and maternal alcohol abuse, and emphasize the importance of assessing children's experiences of parenting separately from other informants. Findings highlight the complexity of the relation between parenting and child adjustment, and suggest that the nature of these relations maybe fluid across children's development.
Child Maltreatment, Parent-child Agreement, Parenting
vii, 146 pages
Includes bibliographical references (pages 127-146).
Copyright 2013 Sarah Marie Taber-Thomas