Parenting : science and practice.
2 & 3
This study examined parenting patterns in a sample of low-income couples and the impact of those patterns on young children's cognitive outcomes. Interactions between 237 mothers, fathers, and their 2-year-old children were examined among coresident mothers and fathers or father figures who participated in the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project's Father and Child Interaction During Toddlerhood Study (FACITS). Scores on 6 parenting scales were entered into K-means cluster analyses to determine whether different parenting patterns emerged by gender. Analyses of covariance were used to examine how the behavior of each parent alone and both parents jointly was associated with child cognitive outcomes concurrently and 1 year later. Mothers and fathers exhibited similar parenting patterns, with Highly Supportive (43% of mothers, 34% of fathers), Somewhat Supportive (35%, 43%), Detached (8%, 15%), and Negative (14%, 8%) clusters emerging for both genders. However differences emerged between the Detached and Negative mother and father clusters, with higher detachment among Detached mothers and higher negativity among Negative fathers. For mothers at both time points and fathers at 36 months, children with Highly Supportive parents had higher Bayley Mental Development Index (MDI) scores than children in the 2 non-Supportive clusters, controlling for parent demographics and income. Children with 2 Supportive parents scored higher on the Bayley MDI than all other children, whereas those with no Supportive parents were particularly disadvantaged. Having at least 1 Supportive mother of father benefitted children's cognitive development over having none. Children who have at least 1 Supportive parent score higher on cognitive assessments, regardless of parent gender, than those with none; studies on parenting and child development should consider mother and father behavior in concert. (Author abstract).
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