The role of ethnicity in parenting practices and children's behavior problems
The purpose of the study was to investigate (1) ethnic differences in the use of parenting practices and (2) the effects of ethnicity on the relationship between parenting practices and children's behavior problems. It further aimed to address several limitations in past research concerning theoretical constructs, research methods, and confounding factors. Thus, the parenting practices measured in this study, prosocial parent-child interactions, hostile parent-child interactions, and inconsistency, are consistent with cross-cultural research. Furthermore, both parent report and observational measures were examined, and parent education and family structure were included as confounding factors. The subjects included 634 low-income families (58% European American, 20% African American, 11% Latino, 12% Asian American) with children aged 4 to 5 years. Mothers' reports and observational data were examined separately as the combination of observational scales with mother report scales resulted in poor internal consistency for both parenting and child behavior variables. The results of this study demonstrated the differing effects of the parenting practices on children's behavior problems based on ethnicity as well as type of measure used. European American mothers were observed to use more Prosocial Interactions than the other groups. European American and African American mothers reported using more Hostile Interactions than the other groups. Asian American mothers reported using less Inconsistency than the other groups. When examining the overall effects of parenting on children's behavior, Prosocial Interactions predicted fewer behavior problems for European American children but not for ethnic minority groups. This finding suggests that positive parenting practices may differ in their effects for different ethnic groups and supports the hypothesis that ethnicity is a critical factor when examining parenting behaviors. However, the relationship between Hostile Interactions and child behavior problems was remarkable in its consistency and strength across all groups. Inconsistency also related to children's behavior problems across all groups. These findings can be useful in the development of parenting interventions that are beneficial across ethnicities by demonstrating the need to target Hostile Interactions and Inconsistency when preventing or treating children's behavior problems.
- Psychology