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We sought to examine the stability of parenting behaviors among physically abusive parents in the 3-year period between their children’s preschool and first grade years. The second purpose of the study was to identify factors that predicted the levels and rates of change in parenting behaviors. 54 parent/child dyads were recruited following substantiated physical abuse of the child and were assessed in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade. Parenting behaviors were measured by observations during Parent–Child Interactions, self-reports from parents, and child reports using a puppet interview. Potential predictors of stability and change examined were demographic factors (SES, child gender, and ethnicity) and parent characteristics (depressive symptomatology, perceptions of child behavior problems, and life stress). Multilevel modeling indicated significant fluctuations in parenting among abusive parents, and these fluctuations were generally attributable to within-person rather than between-person differences. Linear change over time was evidenced in observed positive regard, flat affect, sensitivity, and child-reported structure; changes generally were in the direction of deterioration of parenting over time. Parents’ perceptions of the severity of their children’s behavior problems predicted changes over time in parenting behaviors related to intrusiveness and structure in the home. Demographic factors and parental depression predicted change in select parenting behaviors. Overall, findings indicate instability in parenting during the developmental transition to kindergarten and wide individual differences in patterns of change in parenting. Further, parenting behavior tends to deteriorate rather than improve following substantiation of physical abuse by the child protection system.
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- Factors Associated with 3-Year Stability and Change in Parenting Behavior of Abusive Parents
Mary E. Haskett
Shevaun D. Neupert
- Springer US