Emotional distress and responsive parenting among mothers of early adolescents: The mediational effects of maternal self-efficacy and perspective-taking.
AuthorGondoli, Dawn Marie
Committee ChairSilverberg, Susan B.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractAlthough much attention has been directed to describing parenting practices and to understanding their effects, we know little about the determinants of parenting practices themselves. Belsky (1984) suggested that parental psychological resources are primary determinants of individual differences in parenting. A number of studies support Belsky's notion; however, much of this work assumes that psychological adjustment affects parenting directly. When mediators have been considered, they have been limited to interpersonal and environmental variables such as marital relations and social support. Although these external mediators are important, it is possible that internal mediators could be important as well; that is, there may be an interplay of factors within parents that underlie the seemingly direct connection between psychological adjustment and parenting. In particular, parental cognitions might help account for the often reported connection between parental emotional distress and problematic parenting. This study examines whether the relation between parental emotional distress and parental responsiveness is mediated by two kinds of parenting-relevant cognitions: parenting efficacy (Model 1), and parental perspective- taking (Model 2). A nonclinical sample of 94 mothers and their early adolescent children from maritally intact, two-parent households, and single-parent households was obtained. Participants visited a university research facility, where they completed questionnaires and were videotaped while discussing personally relevant topics. Multiple measures were used to operationalize emotional distress and responsive parenting. To use a multiple measures approach within a regression framework, factor scores on the emotional distress and responsive parenting constructs were generated and were used in subsequent analyses. Each model was evaluated with a series of multiple regression analyses, conducted in the manner outlined by Baron and Kenny (1986). Results indicated that the relation between maternal emotional distress and maternal responsiveness was mediated by parenting efficacy. Although emotional distress was negatively related to responsive parenting, the relation was reduced to nonsignificance once parenting efficacy also entered the equation. In contrast, the mediational role of parental perspective-taking was not supported. The importance of attending to the psychological determinants of parental behavior--and the potential for indirect connections between parental emotional distress and lower levels of responsiveness--is discussed.
Degree ProgramFamily and Consumer Resources