April 27, 2012

Maternal Characteristics and Their Relation to Observed Parenting Behavior

Taylor Listul, Advisor: Paula Mullineaux

Parent-child interactions have been consistently linked to child outcomes. In general, positive parenting behaviors are associated with positive adjustment in children whereas negative parenting behaviors are associated with maladjustment in children (Deater-Deckard et al., 2006). Although the link between parenting behavior has been linked to child outcomes, few studies have examined how parenting characteristics are related to observed parenting behavior. The goal of the current study is to examine the relations between maternal characteristics and observed parenting behavior during a series of mother-child interactions. Mothers were asked to complete a series of questionnaires describing their own temperament, optimism/pessimism, parenting efficacy, and parental feelings about their relationship with their child. Mothers and children were then asked to complete a series of cooperative tasks (Etch-A-Sketch and Marble Labyrinth). Maternal behaviors during the interactions were later coded to determine the degree of positive/negative control exhibited when working with their children on the tasks.

Surgency/extraversion was significantly associated with maternal negative control (r = .60, p < .01). Maternal negative affect was also significantly correlated with optimism/pessimism (r = .49, p < .01) and negative feelings about the parent-child relationship (r = .48, p < .05). The overall maternal negative control model was significant (F(6, 15) = 5.04, p < .05). Negative affect and surgency both predicted observed negative control (b = -.48, p < .05 and b = .55, p < .05). Overall, these results indicate that maternal characteristics are important precursors of parenting behavior to consider when examining mother-child interactions.