Intensive Mothering Attitudes and Children's Executive Function: The Role of Parenting Stress

dc.contributor.authorMcGregor, Casey Marieen
dc.contributor.committeechairArditti, Joyce A.en
dc.contributor.committeememberSmith, Cynthia Leaen
dc.contributor.committeememberJohnson, Elizabeth I.en
dc.contributor.committeememberFew-Demo, April L.en
dc.contributor.departmentAdult Learning and Human Resource Developmenten
dc.description.abstractIntensive mothering (IM) is increasingly being recognized as a dominant parenting discourse. IM, conceptualized as hyper-parenting ideals that place pressure on mothers to cultivate children's cognitive development, has also been demonstrated to have consequences for mothers' mental wellbeing. On the other hand, IM attitudes also appear to contribute to parenting strategies that can be considered beneficial for young children's developmental growth. Considering these complexities, the present research was grounded in a theoretical framework guided by ecological and risk and resilience theories to test a holistic model which positioned IM as having indirect associations with children's executive functioning (EF) through two pathways: positive parenting strategies and parenting stress. Contrary to the theoretical purposes of IM-informed parenting, IM did not contribute to better cognitive outcomes in 3–5-year-old children through positive parenting. Instead, IM indirectly contributed to higher reports of dysfunctions in children's EF through the mechanism of parenting stress. Further, a conditional process model advanced previous understandings of IM by illuminating the processes through which cumulative risk strengthened the associations between these core constructs. Based on the results presented in this research, IM ideology is argued to be a context of risk for families with an accumulation of contextual risk factors.en
dc.description.abstractgeneralThis research study investigated how modern parenting beliefs, called "intensive mothering", related to mothers' experiences with parenting stress, parenting behaviors that are considered good for young children, and young children's developmental outcomes. Intensive mothering involves beliefs such as "children needs should come before the parents' needs" and "it is the mothers' job to make sure young children are intellectually stimulated as much as possible." While these ideas would seem like good things for young children, this study found that having such high standards for mothers parenting expectations create more stress in mothers which, consequently, was related to worse developmental outcomes for young children. If the families who participated in this research had a few characteristics that make it harder for families to thrive, like limited financial resources, then they seemed to report even more parenting stress and even worse outcomes for their children. These findings suggest that holding such high parenting expectations may unintentionally hurt mothers and their children.en
dc.description.degreeDoctor of Philosophyen
dc.publisherVirginia Techen
dc.rightsIn Copyrighten
dc.subjectIntensive motheringen
dc.subjectExecutive functionen
dc.subjectParenting stressen
dc.subjectCumulative risken
dc.titleIntensive Mothering Attitudes and Children's Executive Function: The Role of Parenting Stressen
dc.typeDissertationen Developmenten Polytechnic Institute and State Universityen of Philosophyen


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