An analysis of predictors of child rearing strategies for low income mothers

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Virginia Tech


Identifying family factors that influence parental choice of discipline has been a continuing topic of interest to researchers. The purpose of this study was to examine factors that predict child rearing strategies in a survey population of 330 mothers enrolled in the federal Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) program in rural Montana and urban Los Angeles, and to answer the following questions: (1) What are the descriptive characteristics of the population under study? (2) What are the descriptive characteristics of the reported child rearing strategies? (3) Which combinations of individual parental characteristics best predict each self-reported child rearing strategy? (4) Which blocks of parental characteristics (i.e., demographic, psychological, Situational) as adapted from Belsky’s Multiple Determinants of Parenting Model, best predict reported use of each child rearing strategy? To answer the first two questions, means analysis and cross-tabulation analysis were used. The third question was answered by stepwise multiple regression analysis, and the fourth question by hierarchical multiple regression analysis.

The Parenting Project survey questionnaire used in the research consisted of five self-reporting instruments: Demographic Information, sections of the Child Abuse Potential Inventory, Parental Satisfaction Scale, Parental Acceptance-Rejection Questionnaire, and Maternal Reactions to a Child’s Deviant Behavior Scale (MRCDB).

There was a series of dependent variables for reported child rearing strategies from the MRCDB scale (i.e., spank, praise, reason, allow, and consequences). Independent variables were mother’s age, educational attainment, race-ethnicity, level of parent satisfaction, level of parental acceptance, level of flexibility in child behavior expectations, level of personal adjustment, marital status, occupational prestige, and region of residence.

Analysis revealed that race-ethnicity, educational attainment, level of acceptance, level of flexibility, and region of residence were consistent predictors of child rearing strategies. Predictors came from all three blocks, which confirmed Belsky’s Model of Multiple Determinants of Parenting, and extended it to apply to child rearing strategies. No one block was identified as a stronger predictor than the others.