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Does interparent similarity matter? The associations of parents' attributions and parenting practices… Park, Joanne Lee 2015

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DOES INTERPARENT SIMILARITY MATTER? THE ASSOCIATIONS OF PARENTS’ ATTRIBUTIONS AND PARENTING PRACTICES WITH CHILD BEHAVIOUR  by  Joanne Lee Park  Hons. B.Sc., The University of Calgary, 2012  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF  THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES (Psychology)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  August 2015  © Joanne Lee Park, 2015 ii  Abstract  Research on parenting stresses the importance of parent attributions and parenting practices. However, much of the literature has focused on the relationships between parent attributions, harsh/overreactive discipline, and child behaviour problems, and has for the most part neglected interrelations with lax/inconsistent parenting practices. Moreover, little is known about the linkages between mother and father attributions and parenting practices, and child behaviour problems within a family-systems context. The purpose of this thesis was, therefore, to examine whether mothers’ and fathers’ negative attributions are related to child behaviour problems and whether these relationships are mediated by mothers’ and fathers’ lax parenting practices. In addition, this thesis utilizes a family-systems perspective by examining interparent similarity of attributions and parenting practices and by considering each of the above variables within the context of both parents’ individual variables.  A community sample of 148 couples and their 9- to 12-year-old child (50% boys) participated in the study. Mothers and their child participated by completing questionnaires, and by completing an observed laboratory interaction task. Fathers participated by completing the same questionnaires as mothers.  Results showed that mothers’ attributions and lax parenting practices were significantly associated with child behaviour problems, with no mediation by lax parenting. However, the relationship between fathers’ attributions and child behaviour problems was mediated by fathers’ lax parenting. After controlling for the other parent, as well as interparent similarity of attributions and parenting practices, only mothers’ and fathers’ lax parenting were associated with child behaviour problems. When interparent similarity was examined categorically, fathers’ iii  negative attributions and parenting practices appeared to be particularly important. These findings suggest that both parents play important roles, but that children may be particularly sensitive to fathers’ parenting. iv  Preface The data used in this study was collected as a part of a larger study conducted by Dr. Charlotte Johnston, who is my supervisor and the principal investigator at the UBC Parenting Lab. I was responsible for the identification and design of this research program, the writing of the thesis, and the data analysis, with guidance from Dr. Johnston. The graduate students at the UBC Parenting Lab, David Williamson and Sara Colallilo, alongside myself, were responsible for coding the observational data reported in this study in Section 2.3.2.  This study was approved by the Behavioral Research Ethics Board at the University of British Columbia (Approval certificate number:  H10-01615) v  Table of Contents  Abstract .......................................................................................................................................... ii Preface ........................................................................................................................................... iv Table of Contents ...........................................................................................................................v List of Tables .............................................................................................................................. viii List of Figures ............................................................................................................................... ix Acknowledgements ........................................................................................................................x Dedication ..................................................................................................................................... xi Chapter 1: Introduction ................................................................................................................1 1.1 Attributions and Parenting ................................................................................................. 2 1.1.1 Mothers’ Attributions for Child Behaviour ................................................................ 4 1.1.2 Fathers’ Attributions for Child Behaviour .................................................................. 6 1.1.3 Summary ..................................................................................................................... 8 1.2 Coparenting ...................................................................................................................... 10 1.2.1 Parent Similarity/Consistency ................................................................................... 13 1.3 Child Gender .................................................................................................................... 16 1.4 The Current Study ............................................................................................................ 17 1.4.1 First Primary Research Question: Mothers’ Attributions ......................................... 17 1.4.2 Second Primary Research Question: Fathers’ Attributions ...................................... 18 1.4.3 Third Primary Research Question: Interparent Similarity ........................................ 18 1.4.4 Exploratory Questions .............................................................................................. 19 Chapter 2: Methods .....................................................................................................................21 vi  2.1 Research Design............................................................................................................... 21 2.2 Participants ....................................................................................................................... 21 2.3 Measures .......................................................................................................................... 24 2.3.1 Questionnaires........................................................................................................... 24 2.3.1.1 Participant Demographics .................................................................................. 24 2.3.1.2 Attribution Rating Scale .................................................................................... 24 2.3.1.3 Parent Similarity ................................................................................................ 26 2.3.1.4 Child Behaviour Checklist ................................................................................. 27 2.3.1.5 Child Depression Inventory ............................................................................... 27 2.3.2 Mother-Child Interaction: Observational Coding ..................................................... 28 2.4 Procedure ......................................................................................................................... 28 Chapter 3: Results........................................................................................................................31 3.1 Data Analysis Plan ........................................................................................................... 31 3.2 Data Inspection ................................................................................................................ 33 3.3 Description of Scores ....................................................................................................... 35 3.4 Bivariate Correlations Among Study and Demographic Variables ................................. 36 3.5 Validity of Criterion Latent Variable ............................................................................... 40 3.6 First Research Question: Mothers’ Attributions and Parenting Practices ....................... 40 3.7 Second Research Question: Fathers’ Attributions and Parenting Practices ..................... 42 3.8 Third Research Question: Interparent Similarity of Attributions and Parenting ............. 43 3.9 Exploratory Questions ..................................................................................................... 45 3.9.1 First Exploratory Question ........................................................................................ 45 3.9.2 Second Exploratory Question ................................................................................... 50 vii  Chapter 4: Discussion ..................................................................................................................56 4.1 Mothers’ Attributions and Parenting Practices ................................................................ 57 4.2 Fathers’ Attributions and Parenting Practices .................................................................. 59 4.3 Similarity of Parental Attributions and Parenting Practices ............................................ 60 4.4 Overall Family Model ...................................................................................................... 60 4.5 Problems with ICCs ......................................................................................................... 64 4.6 Limitations and Strengths ................................................................................................ 71 Chapter 5: Conclusions and Future Directions.........................................................................74 References .....................................................................................................................................76 Appendices ....................................................................................................................................89 Appendix A Demographics Form ............................................................................................. 89 Appendix B Attribution Rating Scale ....................................................................................... 93 Appendix C Alabama Parenting Questionnaire ...................................................................... 105  viii  List of Tables  Table 2.1 Demographic characteristics of the sample .................................................................. 23 Table 3.1 Mean levels, standard deviations, and range of primary variables of interest .............. 34 Table 3.2 Bivariate correlations between study variables ............................................................ 37 Table 3.3 Bivariate correlations among parenting variables and child behaviour problems with demographic variables .................................................................................................................. 39  ix  List of Figures  Figure 1.1. Addition of coparenting concepts to the theoretical parenting attribution model ...... 15 Figure 3.1 Mediation model for mothers’ negative attributions, lax parenting practices and child behaviour problems. ...................................................................................................................... 41 Figure 3.2 Mediation model for fathers’ negative attributions, lax parenting practices, and child behaviour problems ....................................................................................................................... 43 Figure 3.3 Mediation model for similarity of parent negative attributions, similarity of lax parenting practice,s and child behaviour problems....................................................................... 45 Figure 3.4 Full model with parenting variables and child behaviour problems controlling for family ethnicity. ............................................................................................................................ 48 Figure 3.5 Full model in the opposite direction with mothers, fathers, and interparent similarity parenting variables and child behaviour problems ....................................................................... 49 Figure 3.6 Average child behaviour scores for parents with varying degrees of similarity of attributions .................................................................................................................................... 52 Figure 3.7 Average child behaviour scores for parents with varying degrees of similarity of lax parenting practices ........................................................................................................................ 53   x  Acknowledgements  I am exceedingly grateful for the mentorship and support that I received from my supervisor, Dr. Charlotte Johnston, on this project and throughout the past two years. She has inspired me to think critically, to be curious, and to care deeply for the families that we work with and has been paramount to my success and development as a researcher.  I would like to extend special thanks to the faculty members who served on my committee – Drs Amori Mikami and Anita DeLongis. Their insightful suggestions and questions were especially helpful as I was drafting this thesis.  I also recognize the amazing support and encouragement of my cohort, Jennifer Yip, Jennifer Na, Bri Glazier, Boaz Saffer, and Cara Dunkley, who have gone through this journey alongside me. I have also had the amazing privilege of a supportive lab – and I thank the UBC Parenting Lab, and especially the graduate students, for all their advice and willingness to encourage and help me. Last but certainly not least, I thank my parents, for their prayers and their faith in me, and I thank my fiancé, Gavin Hodges, for his love, patience and encouragement. My accomplishments would not have been possible without these amazing people in my life.  xi  Dedication  I dedicate this work to my parents, David and Helen Park. Their encouragement, unwavering faith in my potential, and financial support over the years, have taught me to dream big and aim high. Their wisdom and unconditional love have instilled in me the ability to persevere through and overcome any failures and difficult lessons.1  Chapter 1: Introduction Parents play a critical role in shaping their child’s behaviour and development through parenting practices, parenting cognitions (e.g., beliefs, expectations, and attributions), and the overall quality of the parent-child relationship (Bornstein, 2001; Collins et al., 2000). For example, several studies have demonstrated that negative parenting practices may facilitate the development and perpetuation of child behaviour problems (e.g., Flouri, 2010; Gryczkowski, Jordan, Mercer, 2009; Keown, 2012; Luyckx et al., 2011). These child problems include both externalizing (e.g., disruptive, aggressive, or defiant behaviours) and internalizing behaviours (e.g., withdrawn, anxious, inhibited, or depressed behaviours), which negatively impact a child’s social, academic, and family functioning (Hinshaw, 1987).  As the following discussion will illustrate, there is also support for the influence of parent cognitions on child behaviour. More specifically, parents attribute causal meaning to child behaviours, and these attributions influence child outcomes, likely in large part through their impact on parenting practices. Although this relationship has been established for mothers, less is known about how fathers’ attributions may relate to child behaviour. Moreover, because parents in two-parent families must coordinate their roles in raising their child, it also is important to consider if mothers and fathers agree on, or are similar in, their attributions for child behavior and how this similarity may be related to child behaviour problems, perhaps via interparent similarity in parenting practices. The current study investigates the relationships among mothers’ and fathers’ attributions, parenting practices, and child behaviour problems. The study consists of three parts. First, I examine how mothers’ attributions for their child’s behavior are related to child behaviour problems, and whether mothers’ parenting practices mediate this relationship. Second, I examine 2  these same relationships with fathers. Last, I explore whether interparent similarity of attributions is related to child behaviour problems, and whether interparent similarity of parenting practices mediates this relationship. I begin with a general overview of parent attributions, and how mothers’ and fathers’ attributions, respectively, are related to child behaviour problems. I then review the existing literature on coparenting, or parents’ ability to coordinate their parenting roles, the similarity of mothers’ and fathers’ parenting cognitions and behaviours, and the association of coparenting to child behaviour. 1.1 Attributions and Parenting Attributions are social cognitions that pertain to the ways in which individuals explain and evaluate behaviour, both the behaviours of others as well as themselves (Miller, 1995). More specifically, attributions are inferences that an individual makes about what is causing the events around them as well as what motives and traits characterize those around them and guide these individuals’ behaviour (Dix & Grusec, 1985). Within the parent-child context, attributions may be especially important in guiding parenting behaviour (or parenting practices; hereafter used interchangeably). For instance, if a child does not clean his room when he is told, a parent may either make an attribution that this is an intentional action, such as, “He does this on purpose to anger me”, or a non-intentional action, such as, “He must have forgotten because he was distracted with his tablet”.  One can predict that the way a parent reacts to the child would be different in these two cases. In the first case, a parent may threaten the child with harsh and overreactive punishment (e.g., “You’re grounded for a month!”), which then, due to the difficulty in following through with this extreme threat, may not actually occur, leading to lax parenting. In the second case, a parent may simply remind the child again to clean their room.  Obviously, these examples are only illustrations, and there are a myriad of ways a parent may 3  react depending on various factors; however, the examples demonstrate how attributions for child behavior may influence parenting reactions.  Research on attributions has been guided by different models of how social inferences are formed and influence behaviour. Weiner (1979) developed a detailed model of the important dimensions of attributions and their links to an individual’s reactions to the behavior of others. An extension of Weiner’s (1979) model into the parent-child context suggests that parental responses to child behaviour will depend on parents’ inferences about the stability (stable – unstable), globality (global – specific), locus (internal – external), and controllability (controllable – uncontrollable) of the cause of the child’s behaviour (Dix & Grusec, 1985; Weiner, 1979). Other attribution researchers have proposed that, in addition to Weiner’s (1979) dimensions, attributions of responsibility (not at all responsible – completely responsible) and blame (no blame at all – complete blame) are also important in guiding responses within close interpersonal relationships such as those between parent and child (Fincham & Grych, 1991). All of these attributional dimensions have been widely used in research on parent attributions. Negative parent attributions, which are those in which parents see their child’s behaviour problems as intentional, with stable, global and internal causes, have been associated with a variety of outcomes such as child behaviour problems (e.g., Johnston, Hommersen, & Seipp, 2009; Williamson & Johnston, 2014; Wilson, Gardner, Burton, & Leung, 2006), parent satisfaction, and child adjustment (Joiner & Wagner, 1996). These attribution models suggest that observations of child behaviour lead parents to form causal, blame, and responsibility attributions for the behaviour, and these attributions in turn determine parents’ responses to the child (Dix & Grusec, 1985).  4  It is important to note that, although attribution models propose a unidirectional relationship, they do not preclude the likelihood that these relationships are bidirectional. That is, it is quite possible that a parent may first respond to their child and then rationalize their response with an attribution (i.e., parenting behavior influencing parent attributions). In addition, the direction of influence may not only travel from parent to child (i.e., parent attributions/behaviours influence the child), but also from child to parent (i.e., child behaviours influence parent attributions). In fact, many researchers consider parent and child attributions and behaviours to be in a continuous feedback loop (Bugental, Johnston, New, & Silvester, 1998). In other words, a child’s behaviour may prompt parents’ attributions that result in parenting behaviours, which may then cause different child behaviours, and the loop repeats itself. In addition, there are numerous other factors that may influence a parent’s response to a child, such as emotions, personality, gender, and culture. In this study, I will focus specifically on negative parent attributions and their associations with one aspect of negative parenting behaviours (i.e., inconsistent/lax discipline) and child behaviour, recognizing these links are only part of a larger and more complex feedback loop explaining the nature of cognitive and behavioural processes within the parent-child relationship.  1.1.1 Mothers’ Attributions for Child Behaviour Most of the focus of extant literature examining the relationship between parent attributions and child behaviour has been placed on the mother-child dyad (Johnston & Ohan, 2005). Indeed, there is a wealth of evidence supporting the association between mothers’ negative attributions for child behaviour and child behaviour problems. Evidence for this relationship has been found across different ages of children, different types of samples, different methods of measuring attributions, and different study designs (e.g., Chen, Johnston, Sheeber, & 5  Leve, 2009; Healy, Murray, Cooper, Hughes, & Halligan, 2013; Joiner & Wagner, 1996; Pettit, Dodge, & Brown, 1988; Slep & O'Leary, 1998; Werner, 2012; Werner & Grant, 2009). In a seminal longitudinal study investigating this relationship, Nix et al. (1999) assessed a community sample of 4- to 6-year-old children over a 4 year period and found that mothers’ hostile/negative attributions for child misbehaviour significantly predicted children’s future externalizing behaviour problems at school. This association was mediated by mothers’ harsh discipline, and remained significant even when children’s initial externalizing behaviours at home were controlled (Nix et al., 1999). Johnston, Hommersen, and Seipp (2009) found similar results, this time with 8-year-old children, both with and without a diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They found that initial levels of child oppositionality did not predict changes in mothers’ attributions 1 year later, but mothers’ negative attributions for child misbehaviour predicted increases in child oppositional behaviour over time. This relationship held despite controlling for child’s ADHD status, initial levels of oppositional behaviour, and overreactive parenting practices. The relationship has even been demonstrated in an experimental paradigm testing the causality of the relationship between mothers’ attributions and child behaviour in 2- to 3-year-old children (Slep & O’Leary, 1998). This study found that mothers who were told that their children’s negative behaviour was voluntary and intentional (negative attributions) demonstrated significantly more overreactive discipline, and had children who displayed more negative affect than mothers who were told their children were not to blame for misbehaving.  The results of these studies provide convincing evidence supporting an association between mothers’ attributions and child behaviour problems. Several studies also find evidence that parenting practices (specifically overreactive and harsh discipline) partially mediate the 6  relationship between mothers’ attributions and child behaviour problems (e.g., Healy, Murray, Cooper, Hughes, & Halligan, 2013; Johnston, Hommersen, & Seipp, 2009), while others find evidence for full mediation (e.g., Nix et al., 1999; Slep & O'Leary, 1998). In light of these inconsistent results regarding parenting practices as a mediator, and in order to fully understand how mothers’ attributions are related to child behaviour problems, it is important to replicate and confirm the relationships among mothers’ attributions, mothers’ parenting practices and child behaviour problems in the current study. 1.1.2 Fathers’ Attributions for Child Behaviour Compared to mothers, the relationship between fathers’ attributions and child behaviour problems have been vastly understudied (Williamson & Johnston, 2014). However, there is clear evidence that fathers play a unique role in the family. For instance, father involvement in play activities (Jia, Kotila, & Schoppe-Sullivan, 2012), father supportiveness (Bean, Barber, & Crane, 2006; Martin, Ryan, & Brooks-Gunn, 2007; Tamis-LeMonda, Shannon, Cabrera, & Lamb, 2004), and father sensitivity to children (Keown, 2012; Trautmann-Villalba, Gschwendt, Schmidt, & Laucht, 2006) all predict future positive child outcomes, while fathers’ negative parenting practices predict poorer child outcomes (Keown, 2012; Nelson & Coyne, 2009). Despite this evidence of the importance of fathers, we know less about the relationship between fathers’ attributions for child behaviour and child problems and whether this relationship is mediated by fathers’ parenting practices.   From the few existing studies, there is some evidence of a relationship between fathers’ attributions and child behaviour problems. For instance, studies have found an association between fathers’ negative attributions and harsh and aggressive parenting practices (Sheeber et al., 2009; Smith Slep & O'Leary, 2007). This, combined with previously mentioned studies 7  showing that fathers’ parenting practices predict poorer child outcomes (Keown, 2012; Nelson & Coyne, 2009) might suggest that fathers’ attributions are related to child behaviour problems through the mediating variable, parenting practices. Other studies assess the relationship between fathers’ attributions and child behaviour problems more directly. For example, a cross-sectional study assessing the role of parent attributions in families of adolescents with depressive symptoms found that the frequency of fathers’ negative attributions accounted for significant variance in adolescent girls’ depressive symptoms, even when fathers’ own depressive symptoms were controlled (Chen et al., 2009). In the Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD, Hoza et al. (2000) found that fathers’ attributions of child noncompliance to their child’s insufficient effort and bad mood, as well as fathers’ self-reports of dysfunctional discipline (overreactive and lax discipline) measured at baseline, both predicted poorer child treatment outcomes (i.e., greater ADHD and ODD symptoms) 14 months later, even with treatment effects controlled. However, the authors did not test for whether fathers’ dysfunctional discipline mediated the relationship between fathers’ attributions and poor child treatment outcomes. These studies suggest that fathers’ attributions are related to both internalizing and externalizing child behaviour problems, but do not explicitly investigate whether fathers’ parenting practices mediate these relationships. Contradictory evidence also exists. In a longitudinal study of a community sample, MacKinnon-Lewis et al. (2001) assessed the relationship between fathers’ negative attributions regarding their adolescents’ behaviour and observations of father and child negativity in dyadic interactions at two time points, 1 year apart. Although the study was not designed to test whether fathers’ negative attributions at Time 1 predicted child negative behaviour at Time 2, the bivariate correlation between these two variables was not significant (Mackinnon-Lewis, 8  Castellino, Brody, & Fincham, 2001). It is important to note that in this study, the levels of observed father and child negative behaviour at both time points were quite low with little variability, and therefore the lack of correlations may have been due to range restriction in the behavioural variables. Another more recent cross-sectional study of a community sample found similar results, in that fathers’ attributions were not significantly correlated with child aggression (Werner, 2012). However in this study, fathers’ attributions were measured as a composite of attributions for adult-peer interactions, parent-child interactions, and children’s interactions with classmates, and therefore the attributions for adult and child peers may have obscured a potentially significant relationship between negative attributions specifically for the child and the child’s aggression.   From the above studies, it remains unclear whether fathers’ attributions are related to child behaviour problems. The two studies that demonstrated a significant association (Chen et al., 2009; Hoza et al., 2000) were conducted on samples of children with preexisting behaviour problems. Studies that were performed on community samples either did not assess the relationship between fathers’ attributions and child behaviour problems directly, or contained methodological or sampling issues (e.g., range restriction) that may have obscured the results (Mackinnon-Lewis et al., 2001; Werner, 2012). Therefore, it is important to investigate more directly whether there is a relationship between fathers’ negative attributions for child behaviour and child behaviour problems, and whether fathers’ parenting practices may mediate this relationship in a community sample. 1.1.3 Summary It is interesting to note that in the above studies for both mothers and fathers, negative parenting practices were typically assessed as harsh or overreactive discipline practices. 9  However, despite this focus, it is also possible that other dimensions of negative parenting, specifically inconsistent or lax discipline, are associated with parents’ negative attributions. For example, when a parent believes that their child’s misbehaviour is intentional and that the cause is internal, global, and stable, the parent may be prone to overreact with threats of harsh punishment, which they are then unable to consistently follow through, or they may sometimes fail to attempt discipline, based on assumptions that the child’s misbehavior is unchangeable. Either reaction would constitute lax discipline. In support, Leung and Slep (2006) found significant bivariate correlations between inconsistent/lax parenting and negative parent attributions. This finding supports the decision in this study to focus on the relationship between inconsistent/lax parenting, which is one aspect of negative parenting practices, and parents’ attributions for child behaviour, a relationship that has not been extensively addressed in previous studies. Overall, however, existing literature demonstrates convincing support, both in clinical and community samples, that mothers’ negative attributions are related to child behavior problems and that this relationship is mediated, at least partially, by negative parenting practices. The evidence demonstrating this relationship in fathers is less compelling. Although studies on clinical samples have demonstrated significant associations between fathers’ attributions and child behaviour problems, the same relationship has not been found in community samples. In addition, there is a lack of evidence regarding whether fathers’ parenting practices mediate the relationship between their attributions for their child’s behaviour and their child’s behaviour problems. Because of the important role that parent attributions may play in relation to child behaviour problems, these associations should be examined further in both mothers and fathers. 10  1.2 Coparenting  Although it is useful to examine the independent contributions of mothers and fathers to child behaviour, it also is important to consider that parents are often partners, or coparents, in the parenting experience. Research on coparenting originated partly within the context of family systems theory, which depicts families as an organized and complex system composed of different and interdependent subsystems and individuals, such as the mother-father subsystem and the parent-child subsystem (Minuchin, 1985). The coparenting relationship is an important aspect of the mother-father subsystem that is aimed at the welfare and healthy development of the child (Teubert & Pinquart, 2010). Coparenting is a multidimensional construct that involves several interrelated concepts: 1) Cooperation, the extent that parents are able to exchange information about their child and support each other as parents, 2) Childrearing agreement, the extent to which parents agree on different child-rearing topics and strategies, 3) Conflict, the negative interactions that involve the presence of parental arguments over childrearing and the undermining of the other parent, and 4) Triangulation, which refers to the formation of coalitions between a child and one parent, as well as the involvement of the child in parental conflicts (Teubert & Pinquart, 2010). Therefore, the coparenting process is closely associated with both the quality of the marital relationship and the dyadic parent-child subsystem, and yet is conceptually distinct. In other words, while coparenting may be, in part, influenced by the quality of the marital relationship, it primarily involves interactions between the couple that center on the child. With the inclusion of both parents, coparenting adds a layer of complexity to understanding parent and child functioning that is not fully captured when looking at only dyadic mother-child or father-child relationships (Chen & Johnston, 2012; Schoppe, Mangelsdorf, & Frosch, 2001). 11   Although research on coparenting has not had a long history, there is evidence that the coparenting process bears a significant relationship to child behavior. Specifically, difficulties in coparenting has been linked with both externalizing child behaviours (Baril, Crouter, & McHale, 2007; Karreman, van Tuijl, van Aken, & Deković, 2008; Schoppe et al., 2001; Schoppe-Sullivan, Weldon, Claire Cook, Davis, & Buckley, 2009; Westerman & Massoff, 2001), and internalizing child behaviours (Davies & Cummings, 2004; Katz & Low, 2004; Teubert & Pinquart, 2010). In a recent meta-analysis that integrated 59 studies and summarized this support, Teubert and Pinquart (2010) found that, even after controlling for individual parenting styles, positive coparenting (i.e., high cooperation and agreement, low conflict and triangulation) was still associated with decreased internalizing and externalizing child behaviors. When controlling for marital quality, positive coparenting was again still associated with decreased internalizing and externalizing child behaviour. Furthermore, Teubert and Pinquart (2010) found that positive coparenting also was significantly predictive of change in child outcomes in longitudinal studies, even when initial levels of child problems at Time 1 were statistically controlled. Although effect sizes for these associations were small, they remained significant even after controlling for confounding variables such as individual parenting or marital quality.   Based on the Teubert and Pinquart (2010) review, there is evidence that coparenting processes are associated with child behaviour problems. Despite this, very few studies have investigated parent attributions in the context of the coparenting relationship. However, some studies have begun by considering both mothers’ and fathers’ attributions. These studies have found that, on average, mothers and fathers hold different attributions for child behavior. For instance, Chen, Seipp, and Johnston (2008) compared mothers’ and fathers’ attributions for children with ADHD and found that compared to fathers, mothers believed inattentive and 12  impulsive child behaviors were more stable and global. On the other hand, fathers, but not mothers, reported more negative reactions to child behaviours that they rated as due to internal causes. Moreover, a recent study of a community sample found that compared to mothers, fathers offered more adult-controlled attributions for failures in caregiving (e.g., the adult used the wrong method of discipline), as well as child-controlled attributions (e.g., the child was stubborn and resisted parenting efforts; Lansford et al., 2011). Other studies have found differential relations between mothers’ and fathers’ attributions and both internalizing and externalizing child problems (e.g., Chen et al., 2009; Markel & Wiener, 2014; Nelson & Coyne, 2008). In particular, Williamson and Johnston (2014) found that for a sample of boys with and without ADHD, both mothers’ and fathers’ attributions were associated with boys’ behaviour problems at the first time point, and 7 months later, even after accounting for the child’s ADHD status. However, when ADHD status and the other parent’s attributions for child behaviour were controlled, only fathers’ attributions were significantly associated with child behaviour problems at the first time point. Furthermore, the unique predictive ability of fathers’ attributions held 7 months later, even with initial child behaviour problems controlled. Therefore, although findings are not yet conclusive regarding the differential relations between mothers’ and fathers’ attributions and child behaviour problems, the research suggests that such differences do exist. However, these studies have focused on comparing mothers’ and fathers’ attributions and the association of each to child behavior problems, and have not considered the relationships between parent attributions and child behavior within the coparenting context. One method of addressing this is to examine the degree to which mothers’ and fathers’ attributions and parenting practices are similar and how this similarity is related to child behaviour problems. 13  1.2.1 Parent Similarity/Consistency To my knowledge, no studies have examined the relationship between child behaviour problems and interparent similarity of attributions. However, this is an important direction to pursue especially since dissimilarity, or differences, between mothers’ and fathers’ attributions could lead to interparent disagreements (i.e., conflict), and inconsistent parenting between parents (i.e., interparent dissimilarity of parenting practices). Inasmuch as inconsistency of parenting within a parent has negative consequences on child behavior (e.g. Berg-Nielsen, Vikan, & Dahl, 2002), inconsistency between parents may also be harmful. That is, for the same reasoning that inconsistent, or lax parenting within a parent (e.g., threatening to punish child but not following through) may provide children with mixed messages and create or maintain child behavior problems, children may also receive mixed messages regarding their behavior if one parent makes a more positive attribution for the child’s behavior and acts accordingly, while the other parent makes a more negative attribution and reacts in a different, more negative, manner.  In support, several studies have demonstrated that interparent dissimilarity of parenting practices is predictive of child maladjustment and behaviour problems.  For instance, one recent study demonstrated that children’s perceived dissimilarity in mother versus father emotional warmth was associated with internalizing and externalizing problems, perceived dissimilarity between parents’ overprotection was associated with externalizing problems, and perceived dissimilarity between parenting styles was associated with externalizing and internalizing problems even after controlling for the main effects of the parenting styles (Berkien, Louwerse, Verhulst, & van der Ende, 2012). Another study found that two-parent families in which both parents showed supportive parenting (i.e., low laxness, low over-reactivity, high warmth) had children with fewer externalizing problems than families where only one parent was supportive, 14  and having two unsupportive parents was associated with the highest degree of child behavior problems (Meteyer & Perry-Jenkins, 2009). However, in contrast, Chen and Johnston (2012) found that only childrearing disagreement, not dissimilarity in mothers’ and fathers’ parenting behaviors, uniquely predicted child internalizing and externalizing problems over and above family income, marital satisfaction, and parenting effectiveness. Therefore, although there is evidence that dissimilarity in parenting behaviours may negatively influence child behaviour, at least when compared to having two parents with similar supportive behaviours, this evidence is not consistent in the literature. One point to address when examining interparent similarity of attributions and parenting behaviours is the possibility that, although parents may have similar attributions or behaviours, this agreement could be with respect to either positive or negative parent attributions or behaviours. That is, among parents who are high in similarity, there may be some mothers and fathers who are both endorsing negative parenting behaviours and attributions, as well as the possibility that similarity is reflecting agreement in positive parenting. However, it has been argued that parents who are more similar in their childrearing (even if these views are more negative) create more consistent socialization environments for children, and that such consistency promotes children’s understanding of their parents’ expectations and facilitates children’s cooperation with parenting efforts (Lindsey & Caldera, 2005). In contrast, when parents disagree or are dissimilar in their childrearing even if this inconsistency reflects one parent being more positive, this constitutes an inconsistent environment, which may contribute to doubt and uncertainty in children about how they should behave and may lead to more behaviour problems (Lindsey & Caldera, 2005). In addition, differences in parenting practices and attributions may contribute to childrearing disagreements, which have been found to predict 15  child behaviour problems (Chen & Johnston, 2012). Therefore, there is reason to believe that the dissimilarity of parent attributions and parenting practices may predict more child behaviour problems, over and above the extent to which parents display either positive or negative attributions and practices.  Figure 1.1 demonstrates the proposed model for this research, showing links between parent attributions, parenting behaviours, and child behavior problems, with the addition of coparenting (similarity of parent attributions and similarity of parenting practices). The current study aims to address the question of parenting inconsistency by investigating first, for both mothers and fathers, the relationships between within-parent negative, lax (of which inconsistent parenting is one part) parenting and child behaviour problems and whether this lax parenting mediates the relationship between negative attributions and child behaviour problems, and second the relationships among between-parent inconsistent parenting (specifically dissimilarity either in attributions or parenting practices) and child behaviour problems.  Figure 1.1. Addition of coparenting concepts to the theoretical parenting attribution model  Mother Attributions Similarity of Parent Attributions Father Attributions Mother Parenting Practices Similarity of Parenting Practices Father Parenting Practices Child Behaviour 16  1.3 Child Gender  With regards to parent attributions and behaviours within the family, child gender is an important variable to consider. For instance, one study demonstrated that parents made more dispositional, or internal, attributions for girls’ misbehavior compared to boys’ (Gretarsson & Gelfand, 1988); however, another study found that parents believed boys’ behaviour was more intentional compared to girls’ (Maniadaki, Sonuga Barke, & Kakouros, 2005). Moreover, Gryczkowski, Jordan, and Mercer (2009) found that parent and child genders together moderated the relationships between parenting practices and child externalizing behaviour. Specifically, greater parental involvement by fathers and greater levels positive parenting by mothers were significantly related to lower levels of externalizing behaviours in sons, but lower levels of both parents’ monitoring/supervision were significantly related to higher levels of girls’ externalizing behaviours (Gryczkowski et al., 2009). Although the inconsistent findings across studies may be due to differences in measures, methods, or samples (e.g., US sample used by Gretarsson & Gelfand, 1988 vs. Greek sample in Maniadaki et al., 2005), what these studies all demonstrate is that parents make different attributions, and demonstrate different parenting behaviours, for girls’ versus boys’ behavior, suggesting that the relationships between these variables may also differ by child gender.  In addition, several studies have shown that boys seem to be more vulnerable to mother-father conflict compared to girls (Teubert & Pinquart, 2010). For example, a meta-analysis found that effect sizes for the relation of marital disruption to child social problems was significantly higher for boys than for girls (Amato & Keith, 1991). Yet another study found that interparent childrearing disagreement was associated with anxiety in boys, but not girls (Dadds & Powell, 1991). These studies all point to the importance of considering child gender in exploring the 17  relationship between parenting factors and child behavior. Since parent dissimilarity in attributions and parenting practices is likely to be closely associated with childrearing disagreements and marital conflict, these previous findings also lead to the prediction that boys will be more sensitive to dissimilarity in their parents’ attributions and behaviours than girls, such that the relationships among these variables will be stronger for boys. Headings and subheadings must never appear at the bottom of the page without at least one, preferably two lines of text underneath. Instead, move the heading to the next page, even if it means leaving a larger lower margin on the preceding page. 1.4 The Current Study 1.4.1 First Primary Research Question: Mothers’ Attributions Most of the literature on parent attributions has focused on mothers’ attributions for their children. From the above review, we know that mothers’ attributions are associated with child behavioural outcomes, and often mothers’ parenting practices mediated this association. However, these studies have typically used measures of harsh or overreactive parenting, and it is argued that lax parenting may also mediate the association between mothers’ negative attributions and child behaviour problems. Therefore, I predict replication of the relationships found in previous studies with negative parenting practices measured as lax parenting. The first research question of this study focuses upon whether more negative attributions by mothers are significantly correlated with more child behaviour problems, and whether lax parenting practices by mothers mediate this relationship. I hypothesize that: 1. More negative attributions by mothers are significantly correlated with more child behaviour problems.  18  2. More negative lax parenting practices by mothers are significantly correlated with more child behaviour problems. 3. Lax parenting practices by mothers act as a significant mediator between mothers’ negative attributions and child behaviour problems. 1.4.2 Second Primary Research Question: Fathers’ Attributions There has been less research on the relationship between fathers’ negative attributions and child behaviour problems than for mothers. Therefore, this study fills a gap in the literature by investigating whether more negative attributions by fathers are significantly correlated with more child behaviour problems, and whether negative parenting practices, specifically lax parenting, mediate this relationship. Therefore, I hypothesize that: 1. More negative attributions by fathers are significantly correlated with more child behaviour problems.  2. More negative lax parenting practices by fathers are significantly correlated with more child behaviour problems. 3. Lax parenting practices by fathers act as a significant mediator between fathers’ negative attributions and child behaviour problems. 1.4.3 Third Primary Research Question: Interparent Similarity Since researchers have theorized that families are complex systems and established that children are significantly affected by the coparenting relationship, I argue that research on parent attributions should consider the interparent similarity of parent attributions. Specifically, in this study, I investigate whether the interparent similarity of attributions for child behavior, and the interparent similarity of lax parenting practices are significantly associated with child behaviour problems. I propose that if mothers and fathers make dissimilar attributions for their child’s 19  behaviour this will be significantly related to increased child behaviour problems. In addition, I examine whether the interparent similarity of lax parenting practices is significantly associated with child behaviour problems, and whether this similarity mediates the relationship between child behaviour problems and interparent similarity of parent attributions. In other words, I expect that if mothers and fathers disagree about their attributions (dissimilarity of parental attributions) for their child, this will result in inconsistent parenting (dissimilarity of parenting practices), which will in turn be related to greater child behaviour problems. Therefore, I hypothesize that: 1. More interparent similarity in attributions is significantly correlated with less child behaviour problems.  2. More interparent similarity in lax parenting practices is significantly correlated with less child behaviour problems. 3. Interparent similarity in lax parenting practices acts as a significant mediator between interparent similarity in parental attributions and child behaviour problems. As previous findings indicate that parenting variables are differentially related to child behaviour problems in boys and girls, for each of the above questions, I will consider whether child gender moderates these relationships. 1.4.4 Exploratory Questions As an exploratory question, I investigate whether the relationships hypothesized above will hold over and above all other relationships. For instance, do mothers’ attributions have a unique relationship with child behavior, over and above the relationship of fathers’ attributions and child behaviour and the relationship between interparent similarity of attributions and child 20  behaviour? To do this, I investigate the first three research questions in a larger model, as well as test the moderating role of child gender.  Moreover, as noted in the discussion of coparenting, there is a possibility that, although mothers’ and fathers’ attributions and lax parenting practices may be similar, they may both be negative. In addition, interparent dissimilarity in attributions and lax parenting practices if measured using indices of mother-father covariation, makes no differentiation according to parent gender. In other words, if parents are dissimilar, it may be the case that the mother is more negative, or the father is more negative, but this information is not captured in previous studies of parenting dissimilarity. It is possible that the relationship between dissimilarity of parenting variables and child behaviour may vary depending on which parent is more or less negative. I address this concern as an exploratory question by investigating whether there are differences in child behaviour across families in which both mothers and fathers hold relatively less negative attributions, families in which mothers hold more negative attributions but fathers hold less negative attributions, families where mothers hold less negative and fathers more negative attributions, and families with similar negative mother-father attributions. Likewise, for parenting practices, I investigate the differences in child behaviour in families with similar less negative mother-father parenting practices, more negative mother parenting practices and less negative father parenting practices, less negative mother parenting practices and more negative father parenting practices, and similar negative mother-father parenting practices.  21  Chapter 2: Methods 2.1 Research Design  The current study utilizes a cross-sectional, correlational design to address the research questions. The predictor and mediator1 variables (i.e., mothers’ attributions, fathers’ attributions, interparent similarity of attributions, mothers’ lax parenting practices, fathers’ lax parenting practices, and interparent similarity of lax parenting practices) are assessed with self-report questionnaires, while the latent criterion variable (child behaviour problems) is assessed using mother, father, and child reports of child behaviour problems, as well as observations of child behavior.  Since mediation in theory consists of causal processes that unfold over time, methodologists have argued that mediation assessed using cross-sectional data may produce biased estimates of longitudinal parameters (Maxwell & Cole, 2007). However, mediation analysis using cross-sectional data may be warranted as a precursor to performing a longitudinal study. In other words, if evidence of mediation with cross-sectional data is not demonstrated, it may not be worthwhile to conduct a resource- and time-intensive longitudinal study. Therefore, the current study investigates the mediational relationships with cross-sectional data in order to guide future longitudinal investigations. 2.2  Participants The data for this study was collected as part of a project examining parent and child attributions and behaviours. Participating families were recruited through elementary school                                                  1 Due to the correlational nature of this study, I use the terms “predictor” and “mediator” variables only for ease of communication as labels for the position of these variables in the analysis. I acknowledge that no conclusions can be made about the directional or causational relationships of these variables.   22  newsletters, advertisements in the community, the UBC Parenting Lab’s volunteer registry and newsletters, as well as general word of mouth. To participate in the study, mothers were required to have lived with their 9-12 year old child for the past year; have a child who had not been diagnosed with autism, another developmental disorder, or tic disorder; and to speak English fluently. Fathers were included if they agreed to participate and if they saw the child at least three times a week. Step-fathers were included if they had lived with the child for more than 3 years. One-hundred-and-eighty-two families with 9-12 year old children were recruited from an urban center in Canada to participate in the larger study. Of these families, 148 (50% girls) were included in the current study as these were families where both mothers and fathers participated (See  Table 2.1). Although most parents were married to each other and were the biological parents of the child (n = 132), 4 families included a biological mother married to a step-father (who had resided with the family for more than 3 years), and 11 families included biological parents who were divorced, separated, or never married (fathers saw the child at least three times a week, or had alternating weekly custody). The couples who were married had been together an average of 14.67 years (SD = 4.14). The average household income was in the $50,000 to $74,999 range. Participants’ socioeconomic status (SES), as measured by Hollingshead’s Four Factor Index of Social Position (Hollingshead, 1975), was categorized as follows (with I indicating higher SES and V indicating lower SES): I (52% of families), II (31% of families), III (6% of families), IV (5% of families), and V (0.7% of families).     23    Table 2.1 Demographic characteristics of the sample  Mothers (n = 148)  Fathers (n = 148) N M (SD) or % N M(SD) or % Child Gender     Male 74 50.0   Female 74 50.0        Age (Years)     Child  10.81 (1.15)   Parent  42.64 (4.51)  44.64 (4.39)           Ethnicity     European/North American 83 56.1 78 55.7 Asian 48 32.4 42 28.4 Other 9 6.1 20 13.5      Education     Less than high school 4 2.7 5 3.4 High school degree 7 4.7 9 6.1 Partial college/university 24 16.2 19 12.8 College/university 71 48.0 71 48.0 Graduate/Professional training 42 28.4 42 28.4      Marital Status     Married/Common Law 137 92.6   Divorced/Separated 11 7.4        Socioeconomic Status (SES)  1.64 (0.87)        Relationship to Child     Biological 148 100.0 141 95.3 24   Mothers (n = 148)  Fathers (n = 148) N M (SD) or % N M(SD) or % Step-parent 0 0.0 4 2.7 Other 0 0.0 2 1.4      Child Disorders     None 131 88.5   ADHD 5 3.4   Anxiety 4 2.8   Learning Disability 3 2.1   Other 5 3.5   Note: SES assessed by the Hollingshead family SES score. 1 = High and 5 = Low. Across variables, sample sizes ranged from 140-148 due to missing data on reports of SES and ethnicity. 2.3 Measures 2.3.1 Questionnaires 2.3.1.1 Participant Demographics Mothers completed the General Family Information and Demographics Questionnaire that was developed at the Parenting Lab (See Appendix A). This questionnaire asks for basic demographic information such as family members’ ages, genders, ethnicities, educations and occupations, child behavioural and learning problems, and mothers’ and fathers’ marital status. 2.3.1.2 Attribution Rating Scale Each parent completed an attribution rating scale (ARS; See Appendix B) examining his or her interpretations of the causes of 12 ambiguous child behavior scenarios. Most of these scenarios were adapted and slightly modified from questionnaires used in previous studies (Barrett, Rapee, Dadds, & Ryan, 1996; Conley, Haines, Hilt, & Metalsky, 2001; Halligan, Cooper, Healy, & Murray, 2007; MacBrayer, Milich, & Hundley, 2003; Seligman et al., 1984), while three were created for the purposes of this study. The scenarios were chosen from literature that examined a range of child problems (e.g., externalizing problems, internalizing problems), 25  and although each scenario depicted a negative child behavior outcome, they were ambiguous with respect to the cause of the outcome. For each scenario, parents were instructed to imagine themselves and/or their child in the scenario. For example, one scenario states, “Your child’s class has a math quiz every Friday. He failed last week’s quiz. Think of the one main reason for why your child failed his quiz.” Parents were then asked to rate the reason on 6-point Likert scales reflecting dimensions of causal locus (How much of this reason is because of your child or not because of your child?), stability (Is this reason something that is a one-time thing or something likely to happen again in the future?), globality (Is this reason specific to the situation versus something that happens in many situations?), intent (To what extent did your child intend to fail his/her math quiz?), blame (To what extent should your child be blamed for failing his/her math quiz?), and responsibility (To what extent would you hold your child responsible for failing his/her math quiz?). These dimensions have been used in previous studies and have demonstrated significant relations to child problems and parenting (e.g., Johnston et al., 2009; Joiner & Wagner, 1996; Wilson et al., 2006). On the control, globality, stability, intent, and responsibility dimensions, higher scores indicate more negative attributions for the child (e.g., the reason for the child’s failure on the math test is seen as something about the child, something that will occur in the future, something for which the child is responsible). On the locus dimension, higher scores indicate more positive attributions (i.e., the cause of the negative behavior is outside of the child), and therefore these scores were reversed.  For the purposes of the larger study, each mother-father pair completed attribution ratings for only half of the scenarios in the questionnaire format described above, and for the other half of the scenarios, attributions were completed in an open-ended interview format. Which scenarios were assigned to which format was counterbalanced across families, although each 26  mother and father within a family received the same scenarios in the same format. Therefore, each parent completed six scenarios in the questionnaire format out of the possible 12 scenarios. It is only the questionnaire version of the attribution ratings that are considered in this study.  When applied to parenting, attribution models suggest that higher (i.e., more negative) scores on these attributional dimensions are conceptually linked to more negative parenting practices, and negative scores on multiple attributional dimensions are proposed to have an additive effect (Dix & Grusec, 1985). In other words, if a parent perceives the cause of their child’s problem behaviours as being more internal, stable, global, controllable, and that their child is responsible and to blame for the behaviour, this should lead to a more negative reaction from the parent than if only one or two of the attributional dimensions are rated negatively. Based on this conceptualization, all of the scores across attributional dimensions and scenarios were averaged to create a composite negative attribution score for both mothers and fathers (mothers’ Cronbach’s α = .83, fathers’ Cronbach’s α = .84). 2.3.1.3 Parent Similarity The interparent similarity of attributions and lax parenting practices were calculated via intraclass correlations (ICCs). ICCs were conducted for each dyad’s attribution rating scale scores at an item level. The same was done for each dyad’s lax parenting practices scores on the relevant subscales of the APQ. ICCs are correlations more suited to describing similarity than Pearson’s correlations as they not only take into account the degree to which the two scores are related, but also the actual match (mean levels) between scores (Maguire, 1999). An ICC of 1 indicates perfect similarity between the dyad members, while an ICC of -1 indicates perfect dissimilarity (Maguire, 1999). 27  2.3.1.4 Child Behaviour Checklist Child behaviour problems were assessed using the 113-item Child Behaviour Checklist 6-18 (CBCL) (Achenbach & Rescorla, 2001). Both mothers and fathers reported on how well each item described their child on a 3-point Likert scale from 0 (not true at all) to 2 (very true or often true). The CBCL Total Problems score encompasses the sum of all the subscales, including Intrernalizing and Externalizing Problems, as well as Social Problems (e.g., gets teased), Thought Problems (e.g., can’t get mind off thoughts), and Attention Problems (e.g., can’t concentrate). The CBCL Total Problems score, as an overall measure of child problems, has been well established as demonstrating good internal consistency (Cronbach’s α = 0.97), as well as good to excellent test-retest reliability and validity (Achenbach & Rescorla, 2001). CBCL Total Problems T-scores based on age and gender norms were utilized in the current study. 2.3.1.5 Child Depression Inventory Children completed the 10-item Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI) Short Form (Kovacs, 1992). For each item, children chose one of three sentences that they felt best described them in the past 2 weeks. Each sentence was scored from 0-3, with higher scores indicating greater severity. The total score was obtained by summing the scores from all the items. The CDI short-form demonstrates adequate reliability and validity (Kovacs, 1992). Internal consistency of the CDI total score in this sample was in the acceptable range (Cronbach’s α = 0.71). As the CDI is shown to more validly discriminate between clinical and normal populations than between specific internalizing disorders, and significantly correlates with theoretically related internalizing disorder constructs, such as lower self-esteem, self-concept, and social adjustment (Kovacs, 1992), it was used as a measure of internalizing behaviour problems in this study. 28  2.3.2 Mother-Child Interaction: Observational Coding Mothers and children were video-recorded interacting in a playroom setting and these interactions were assessed via observational coding using the Response Class Matrix (RCM; Mash, Terdal, & Anderson, 1973). Six coders independently coded interactions during 5 minutes of a child-led play and 5 minutes of a clean-up interaction between the mother and child (details discussed below). The RCM codes specific classes of parent and child antecedent and consequent behaviours every 15 seconds. As a result, summary measures indicating the proportion of intervals in which mothers and children displayed various behaviors can be derived. From these summary measures, the proportion of intervals in which the child displayed oppositional or negative responses across the play and clean-up interactions served as the observational measure of externalizing child behaviour problems.  Twenty-eight percent of the videos were independently coded by two observers to provide estimates of reliability. Observers were blind as to which tapes were double-coded. Inter-observer agreement was calculated as ICCs between observers’ scores and demonstrated adequate agreement (ICC = .68). 2.4 Procedure  Mothers who met inclusion criteria (described in the Participants section) participated in a 2.5 hour session with their child in the Parenting Lab. Fathers participated by filling out questionnaires, and were given the option to do this at the lab, or at home.  Upon arrival at the Parenting Lab, two research assistants (RAs) met the family and explained the procedures of the study. Parents and children were told that they would be filling out questionnaires about their thoughts about their own and each other’s behaviors. Each individual was assured of the confidentiality of their responses and that there were no foreseeable 29  negative consequences of participating. Once informed consent was received from mothers and assent was received from children, they were taken into separate rooms to fill out questionnaires. During this time, mothers filled out the ARS as well as other questionnaires assessing their relationship with their child, and their own psychological functioning. The order of the questionnaires was counterbalanced across families. When finished, mothers were led to a different room where their child met them. At this time, mothers were given an earphone connected to a walkie-talkie so that they could be given instructions by the RAs from outside the room. They were told that their interaction with the child would be recorded from behind a one-way mirror. First, mothers were asked to give their children a series of commands, however this session was not used in the current study. Next, mothers were directed to let their child lead in play time (i.e., the child picks the activity), and then in clean-up time they were to direct their child to put away the toys.  After the interaction, mothers and their children were again separated into different rooms and completed more questionnaires. During this time, questionnaires that were not completed in the first half were finished, and mothers were also given the APQ, CBCL, and other questionnaires assessing the parent-child relationship. These new questionnaires were given in counterbalanced order across families. Once mothers and children finished their questionnaires, they were thanked, and the child was given a t-shirt, and the mother a $35 honorarium.   If fathers accompanied mothers and children to the lab, they were given a questionnaire package and consent form, with questionnaires in the same order as mothers, to fill out as they waited for their partner and child to finish the tasks. Once they had completed the questionnaires, they were given a $25 honorarium. If fathers chose not to come to the lab but still agreed to 30  participate, mothers were given a questionnaire package (with questionnaires in the same order as mothers), consent form, and stamped envelope, to deliver to the father. Fathers who completed questionnaires at home received their $25 honorarium once the questionnaires had been returned by mail. Twenty-four percent of fathers participated in the lab. If fathers took the questionnaire home (n = 113, 76.4% of fathers), they sent questionnaires back to the lab 22.3 days after the lab visit on average. 31  Chapter 3: Results 3.1 Data Analysis Plan Means and standard deviations for mothers’ and fathers’ attribution scores, lax parenting practices scores, interparent similarity of attributions, interparent similarity of lax parenting practices, ratings of child behaviour, and the frequency of observed child behaviours are reported. Bivariate correlations are also reported between all variables, including relevant demographic and study variables. Structural Equation Modelling. I examined the hypothesized relations in the first three research questions via structural equation modeling (SEM), conducted using the lavaan package (Rosseel, 2012) in RStudio Version 0.98.501. Three separate models were assessed with 1) mothers’ attributions and mothers’ lax parenting practices, 2) fathers’ attributions and fathers’ lax parenting practices, and 3) interparent similarity of attributions, and interparent similarity of lax parenting practices, included as predictor variables. For all three models, the criterion variable, child behaviour problems, was a latent variable constructed from mother and father report of child behaviour problems on the CBCL, child self-report of internalizing behaviour problems on the CDI, and observed child externalizing behaviours. For the first exploratory question, I combined the first three models into a larger model, with mothers’ and fathers’ attributions, mothers’ and fathers’ lax parenting practices, and interparent similarity of attributions and lax parenting practices included as predictor variables and the latent variable representing child behaviour problems as the criterion variable. Given that all ratings were from the same family about the same child, all predictor variables were allowed to covary. The relations of demographic and study variables with predictor and criterion variables were examined with bivariate correlations or nonparametric tests. If these relations were 32  significant, these variables were included as covariates in the SEM analyses. Several fit indexes were used to evaluate model fit, including the chi-square goodness of fit test, the root-mean-square-error of approximation (RMSEA), the tucker-lewis index (TLI) and the comparative fit index (CFI). The literature suggests that a non-significant chi-square test, a value close to .95 for the TLI and the CFI, and a value close to .06 for the RMSEA indicate a good fit between the proposed model and the observed data (Hu & Bentler, 1998). To analyze whether the hypothesized relationships existed, I examined the pathway coefficients between each of the variables and the indirect pathway coefficient of the hypothesized mediator variable.  Moderation Analysis. As child gender may be an important moderating variable in this model, I estimated model parameters by allowing separate regression estimates for boys and girls (i.e., residual and covariance estimates constrained to be equal, regression estimates allowed to vary between groups). Using chi-square difference testing, this model was then compared to a model with all parameters constrained to be equal for boys and girls (i.e., residual, covariance, and regression estimates constrained to be equal). If the models were significantly different, this provided evidence that the relationships in the model were moderated by child gender. Since approximately half of the sample was of a European/North American ethnicity, while the other half was of other ethnicities, ethnicity was also investigated as a moderator variable as described with child gender.  Categorical Analysis. Lastly, for the second exploratory question, attribution and lax parenting behaviour scores were split at the median for mothers and fathers separately. Mothers’ and fathers’ placement above and below the median on attributions were then combined to form a mother-father attributional similarity variable with four levels: 1) mothers and fathers with relatively similar levels of less negative parental attributions (Both less negative group), 2) 33  families where mothers had relatively more negative attributions while fathers had less negative attributions (Mother more negative, father less negative group), 3) families where mothers had relatively less negative attributions while fathers had more negative attributions (Mother less negative, father more negative group), and 4) mothers and fathers with relatively similar levels of negative parental attributions (Both more negative group). A similarity variable for lax parenting behaviour was created in a likewise manner. I then conducted two separate one-way analyses of variance (ANOVA); the first ANOVA compared child behavior problems across the four groups of mother-father attributional similarity, and the second ANOVA compared child behavior problems across the four groups of mother-father parenting practices similarity. The dependent variable, child behaviour problems, was a composite variable of mother-, father-, and self-reports of child behaviour, as well observed externalizing child behaviour, consistent with the variables that formed the latent variable in the SEM models. If necessary, Tukey HSD post hoc analyses were conducted to examine specific differences between groups. 3.2 Data Inspection  The means, standard deviations, and ranges of the primary variables are presented in Table 3.1. All data were assessed for completeness and normality. Total scores on each measure were calculated and scores were prorated if at least 75% of the items were completed. Across all measures, including potential covariates (e.g., SES, ethnicity), the percentage of missing scores ranged between 0.7% and 5.4%. Little’s MCAR (Missing Completely At Random) test (Little, 1988) was used to analyze the pattern of missing data, and supported the assumption that the data are missing completely at random and not associated with participant characteristics, F2(38) = 48.58, p = .17. Subsequent analysis utilized Full Information Maximum Likelihood (FIML) for model estimation to address the problem of missing data.  34  Table 3.1 Mean levels, standard deviations, and range of primary variables of interest  M SD Range Minimum Maximum Negative Attributions Mother 3.17 .66 1.14 4.83 Father 3.17 .67 1.39 4.72 ICC of Mothers’ and Fathers’ Attributions  0.34 .19 -0.13 0.78 Poor Monitoring (APQ) Mother 0.49 0.45 0.00 2.00 Father 0.57 0.47 0.00 2.22 Lax Discipline (APQ) Mother 1.28 0.62 0.00 2.83 Father 1.28 0.53 0.17 2.60 ICC of Mothers’ and Fathers’ Parenting Practices  0.32 0.30 -0.35 0.90 CBCL Total T-Score Mother 49.54 10.83 24.00 73.00 Father 47.93 11.53 24.00 76.00 Proportion of Intervals with Observed Externalizing Behaviour   0.03 0.04 0.00 0.28 Child Report of Depression (CDI-S; T-scores)  46.75 6.80 40.00 72.00 Note. ICC = Intra-Class Correlations; APQ = Alabama Parenting Questionnaire; CBCL = Child Behavior Checklist; CDI-S = Child Depression Inventory Short Version   Normality of the distributions of variables was assessed through inspection of skewness and kurtosis statistics. Skewness and Kurtosis statistics above 1 were considered non-normal. Mothers’ attributions, fathers’ attributions, interparent similarity of attributions, mothers’ lax parenting practices, fathers’ lax parenting practices, and interparent similarity of lax parenting practices were all normally distributed. Mothers’ and fathers’ ratings on the CBCL total T-score were also normally distributed. However, the proportion of intervals of observed externalizing behaviours and CDI-S scores were both kurtotic and skewed in the positive direction. Square root transformations were applied and were successful in bringing these distributions closer to normality. These transformed scores were used in all analyses. 35  3.3 Description of Scores  The mean of mothers’ negative attributions for the child behavior scenarios, on a scale from 1 (e.g., not at all intentional) to 6 (e.g., completely intentional) indicated that, on average, mothers’ attributions were at the midpoint of the scale (Table 3.1). Fathers’ mean rating of negative attributions was comparable. There was no difference between mothers’ and fathers’ ratings of negative attributions, t(147) = -0.11, p = .92. The mean of the ICC for mothers’ and fathers’ negative attributions indicated that, as a group, this sample of parents tended to agree moderately with their partners with respect to their attributions for their child’s behaviours.   Parents’ ratings on the APQ subscales, on a scale from 0 (Never) to 4 (Always) with 4 indicating more negative practices, suggested that both mothers’ and fathers’ endorsed a low level of poor monitoring and inconsistent discipline practices. Mothers and fathers indicated similar levels of poor monitoring, t(144) = -1.78, p = .08, and inconsistent discipline, t(146) = 0.08, p = .94. The mean of the ICC for mothers’ and fathers’ negative parenting practices indicated that, as a group, this sample of parents tended to agree moderately with their partners with respect to their negative parenting practices.   Mean CBCL T-scores of child behaviour problems as rated by mothers and fathers indicated that these children, on average, demonstrated behaviour problems in the normal range for children their age and gender. However, 8% (n = 12) of children in the sample scored in the borderline clinical range or above (i.e., above the 94th percentile) according to mother reports and 6% (n = 8) of children scored in the borderline clinical range or above as rated by fathers. Overall, mothers rated their child as having more behaviour problems than fathers, although this difference was only marginally significant, t(142) = 1.87, p = .06. With regards to observed externalizing behaviour, on average, children demonstrated externalizing problems in 4% of the 36  time intervals during the mother-child interaction, with the proportions ranging from 0% to 28% of the time. Mean T-scores on the CDI as self-reported by children indicated that overall the children endorsed an average range of internalizing problems. However, there was a wide range of scores (40.00-72.00), with 2.70% (n = 4) of children reporting subclinical levels of internalizing problems (i.e., 94th – 98th percentile). This suggests that, although the majority of children in this sample exhibited behaviours within the normal range, approximately 8.11%, 6.08%, and 2.70% of children were described as showing considerable (i.e., above the 94th percentile when compared with other children of similar ages) levels of behaviour problems as rated by mothers, fathers, and self, respectively.  3.4 Bivariate Correlations Among Study and Demographic Variables  The bivariate correlations between mothers’ and fathers’ attributions, mothers’ and fathers’ lax parenting practices, interparent similarity of attributions and interparent similarity of lax parenting practices are presented in Table 3.2. As expected, mothers’ and fathers’ negative attributions were significantly and positively correlated, and both were significantly related to greater interparent similarity of negative attributions. In addition, mothers’ and fathers’ negative attributions were significantly and positively related to their own lax parenting practices, and more negative attributions by mothers were also related to fathers’ lax parenting practices. Finally, mothers’ and fathers’ lax parenting practices were significantly correlated. However, interparent similarity of parenting practices was not significantly related to any of the other variables of interest, including interparent similarity of attributions, or to mothers’ and fathers’ lax parenting practices.    37  Table 3.2 Bivariate correlations between study variables   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Mothers ARS (1) - .27** .32** .16* .20* .01 .19* Fathers ARS (2)   - .30** .11 .26** -.01 .20* Mother-Father ICC for ARS (3)    - -.01 -.07 .08 .15 Mother APQ (4)     - .38** .05 .23** Father APQ (5)     - .01 .34** Mother-Father ICC for APQ (6)      - .18* Child Behaviour Problems  (7)1       - Note. ** Correlation significant at p < .01; * correlation significant at p < .05;  ARS = Attribution Rating Scale; ICC = Intra-Class Correlations; APQ = Alabama Parenting Questionnaire. 1A composite score created from Mothers’, Fathers, Self, and Observer report.   The bivariate correlations between predictor, mediator, and dependent variables with demographic and study variables of interest are presented in Table 3.3. More dissimilar parenting practices were related to the child being older. Fathers’ attributions and lax parenting practices were less negative if they were divorced/separated. Also, couples where fathers took longer to return questionnaires were more similar in their negative attributions. However, because child age, Hollingshead SES, marital status, fathers’ relationship to the child, and number of days before the fathers’ questionnaires were returned were not significantly related to any of the other variables, including the dependent variables, they were not included as covariates in the analyzed models. Girls were more likely to report higher depression scores, however, as child gender was not significantly related to any of the other variables, it also was not investigated as a covariate in 38  the models. Correlations with family ethnicity (coded as European/North American or other) indicated that European/North American families were more likely to demonstrate similarity in mothers’ and fathers’ attributions, less lax parenting practices by fathers, and lower child depression scores than families of other ethnicities. Given the significant correlations with predictor, mediator, and dependent variables, family ethnicity (coded as 0 or 1) was investigated as a covariate with models that included interparent similarity of negative attributions, fathers’ negative parenting practices, and child report of depression. In the following analyses, to reduce redundancy, figures are only provided for results that include ethnicity as a covariate.  The only exception for this is the model testing relationships for mothers, in which ethnicity is not analyzed as a covariate.39  Table 3.3 Bivariate correlations among parenting variables and child behaviour problems with demographic variables  Child Age  Child Gender (0 = Girl, 1 = Boy) Family Ethnicity  (1 = European/North American, 2 = Other) Hollingshead SES Marital Status  (1 = married, 2 = divorced or separated) Fathers’ relationship to child  (1 = biological, 2 = other) Number of days fathers took to submit questionnaires Predictor Variables        Mother ARS (1) .07 .06 -.14 -.06 .04 -.12 -.01 Father ARS (2)  .10 .03 .01 -.16 -.22** -.12 .07 ICC for ARS (3)  .04 -.06 -.25** .04 -.01 -.00 .17* Mother APQ (4)  -.05 .03 .06 -.09 -.11 -.03 -.04 Father APQ (5) .05 .13 .20* -.08 -.20* -.16 -.04 ICC for APQ (6) -.16* .05 -.00 .08 -.12 -.03 .10 Dependent Variables        Mother CBCL -.15 .07 -.02 -.10 .03 .06 .02 Father CBCL -.06 .06 .02 .01 -.02 .15 .11 Observed Externalizing  -.04 .03 -.02 -.02 -.04 -.08 -.05 Child CDI .14 -.18* .16* -.01 -.01 .09 .11 Note. ** Correlation significant at p < .01; * correlation significant at p < .05. ARS = Attribution Rating Scale; ICC = Intra-Class Correlations; APQ = Alabama Parenting Questionnaire; CBCL = Child Behaviour Checklist; CDI = Child Depression Inventory 40  3.5 Validity of Criterion Latent Variable  Prior to addressing the research questions, I first established the validity of the criterion latent variable. As proposed, I conducted a confirmatory factor analysis with mother CBCL T-score, father CBCL T-score, observed child externalizing behaviour, and child CDI score. The resultant confirmatory factor analysis demonstrated a good model fit, F2(2) = 0.386, p = .83, CFI = 1.00, TLI = 1.08, RMSEA = 0.00, with mother report of child behaviour (β = 0.76, p < .01), father report of child behaviour (β = 0.73, p < .01), proportion of observed externalizing child behaviour (β = 0.20, p =.02), and child report of internalizing behaviour (β = 0.22, p =.03) all loading significantly onto the latent variable. Therefore, this combination of measures was used as the dependent variable in subsequent analyses. 3.6 First Research Question: Mothers’ Attributions and Parenting Practices  The first research question asks whether mothers’ negative attributions are related to child behaviour problems, and whether this relationship is mediated by mothers’ lax parenting practices. To answer this question, I conducted an SEM with mothers’ attributions and lax parenting related to child behaviour problems, and with mothers’ attributions related to mothers’ lax practices (See Figure 3.1). Overall, the model demonstrated excellent fit, F2(8)= 5.31, p = .72, CFI = 1.00, TLI = 1.07, RMSEA = 0.000. Both mothers’ negative attributions and lax parenting practices were significantly associated with child behaviour problems. Mothers’ negative attributions also were significantly related to mothers’ lax parenting practices. The indirect effect (the degree to which lax parenting practices mediated the relationship between mothers’ attributions and child behaviour problems) was marginally significant. Therefore, this analysis found support for the first two parts of the first hypothesis that more negative attributions and more lax parenting practices by mothers are significantly related to more child 41  behaviour problems. However, although marginally significant, this analysis did not fully support part three of the first hypothesis that mothers’ lax parenting practices act as a significant mediator between mothers’ negative attributions and child behaviour problems.  Figure 3.1 Mediation model for mothers’ negative attributions, lax parenting practices and child behaviour problems.  Child gender was investigated as a moderating variable for this model. Comparisons of a model with all parameters constrained to be equal for both boys and girls with a model with all parameters constrained to be equal except for regression weights, which were allowed to vary for boys and girls, demonstrated there was no significant difference (F2diff(3) = 2.95, p = .40), and therefore gender did not moderate these relationships. Ethnicity was also investigated as a moderating variable.  Again, comparisons of a model with all parameters constrained to be equal for European/North American vs. other ethnicity families with a model where all parameters Observed  behaviour Indirect effect (ab):  β = 0.05, p = .09  Mothers’ Negative Attributions Child Behaviour Problems Mother Report Father Report Child Report Mothers’ Lax Parenting Practices Model fit statistics:F (8) = 5.31, p = 0.724; CFI = 1.00; TLI = 1.07; RMSEA = 0.00  Direct effect (c’) β = 0.18, p = .03* β = 0.16, p = .05* β = 0.32, p < .001* Total effect (c) β = 0.23, p = .01* 42  were constrained to be equal except for regression weights demonstrated no significant difference, F2diff(3) = 3.32, p = .34, and therefore ethnicity did not moderate these relationships. 3.7 Second Research Question: Fathers’ Attributions and Parenting Practices  The second research question asks whether fathers’ negative attributions and lax parenting practices are related to child behaviour problems, and whether fathers’ lax parenting practices mediate the relationship between fathers’ attributions and child behaviour problems. Overall, the model demonstrated excellent fit, F2(8) = 5.42, p = .71, CFI = 1.00, TLI = 1.06, RMSEA = 0.000. When looking specifically at pathways, fathers’ lax parenting practices were significantly associated with child behaviour problems (β = 0.32, p = .002), and fathers’ attributions were significantly related to fathers’ lax parenting practices (β = 0.27, p = .001). The relationship between fathers’ negative attributions and child behaviour problems approached significance (β = 0.18, p = .07). The indirect effect was significant (β = 0.09, p = .02) suggesting that fathers’ with more negative attributions demonstrated more lax parenting practices, which was in turn related to child behaviour problems. Therefore, this analysis provides support for the hypotheses that more lax parenting practices are significantly related to more child behaviour problems, and that lax parenting practices significantly mediate between fathers’ negative attributions and child behaviour problems.   Next, I investigated whether gender may moderate these relationships in this model. Comparisons of a model with all parameters constrained to be equal for boys and girls with a model with all parameters constrained to be equal except for regression weights, which were allowed to vary for boys and girls, demonstrated there was no significant difference (F2diff(3) = 0.99, p = .80), and therefore gender did not moderate these relationships. The same analysis suggested that ethnicity did not moderate these relationships (F2diff(3) = 0.79, p = .79). Since 43  ethnicity was significantly related to fathers’ lax parenting practices and child report of internalizing behaviour, ethnicity was next entered as a covariate for this model. The resultant model fit well, F2(11) = 12.07, p = .36, CFI = 0.99, TLI = 0.98, RMSEA = 0.03 (Figure 3.2). With ethnicity controlled, fathers’ lax parenting practices were significantly related to child behaviour problems and fathers’ negative attributions were significantly related to fathers’ lax parenting practices. The relationship between fathers’ attributions and child behaviour was marginally significant. The indirect effect was also significant. These results mirrored results from the model when ethnicity was not entered as a control variable.  Figure 3.2 Mediation model for fathers’ negative attributions, lax parenting practices, and child behaviour problems 3.8 Third Research Question: Interparent Similarity of Attributions and Parenting             The third research question hypothesizes that the interparent similarity of negative Fathers’ Negative Attributions Child Behaviour Problems Mother Report Father Report Child Report Fathers’ Lax Parenting Practices Model fit statistics:F = 5.42, p = 0.71; CFI = 1.00; TLI = 1.06; RMSEA = 0.00 Direct effect (c’):  β = 0.18, p = .07 β = 0.27, p = .001* β = 0.32, p = .002* Indirect effect (ab): β = 0.09, p = .02* Observed Behaviour Total effect (c):  β = 0.26, p = .01* 44  attributions and the interparent similarity of lax parenting practices are related to child behaviour problems, and that the interparent similarity of parenting practices mediates the relationship between the interparent similarity of negative attributions and child behaviour problems. The resultant model demonstrated good fit, F8) = 4.52, p = .81, CFI = 1.00, TLI = 1.11, RMSEA = 0.00, however none of the pathways, nor the indirect effect was significant. Therefore, there was no support for the hypotheses.   In addition, child gender and ethnicity did not moderate the relationships in the model, Fdiff(3) = 2.03, p = .57; F2diff(3) = 2.03, p = .57 respectively. Since ethnicity was significantly related to both similarity of parents’ attributions and child report of internalizing behaviours, it was included as a covariate in the analysis. The resultant model fit well, F2(11) = 12.02, p = .36, CFI = 0.99, TLI = 0.97, RMSEA = 0.03 (See Figure 3.3), however again, no pathways were significant. Therefore, interparent similarity of attributions and parenting practices, as measured by ICCs, were not related to child behaviour problems.  45   Figure 3.3 Mediation model for similarity of parent negative attributions, similarity of lax parenting practice,s and child behaviour problems 3.9 Exploratory Questions 3.9.1 First Exploratory Question  In analyses directed to the first to third research questions, results indicated that when analyzed separately, mothers’ attributions and mothers’ lax parenting practices were both significantly associated with greater child behaviour problems and that fathers’ attributions were associated with fathers’ lax parenting practices, which in turn was associated with more child behaviour problems. In the following analysis, the family is considered together, recognizing that mothers’ relationships with their child do not exist to the exclusion of fathers’ relationships with their child and vice versa, or the impact of similarity between the mothers and fathers. Therefore, all these relationships are considered in the same model in this exploratory analysis. Because Total effect (c):  β = 0.14, p = .16 Similarity of Parent Negative Attributions Child Behaviour Problems Mother Report Father Report Child Report Similarity of Lax Parenting Practices Model fit statistics:F = 4.51, p = 0.81; CFI = 1.00; TLI = 1.11; RMSEA = 0.00 Direct effect (c’):  β = 0.13, p = .19 β = 0.08, p = .36 β = 0.13, p = .17 Indirect effect (ab):  β = 0.01, p = .45 Observed Behaviour 46  both mothers’ and fathers’ were reporting on the same child and were from the same family, all possible covariances between parents’ variables were allowed. The resultant model demonstrated good fit, F2(20) = 21.03, p = .40, CFI = 0.99, TLI = 0.99, RMSEA = 0.02. Several notable observations emerged even when all other relationships were taken into account in the model.  First, mothers’ lax parenting practices (β = 0.23, p = .06) were now only marginally associated with child behaviour problems. Mothers’ attributions were also marginally associated with mothers’ lax parenting practices (β = 0.16, p = .07). Fathers’ attributions, mothers’ attributions, and the interparent similarity of attributions all were significantly associated with fathers’ lax parenting practices (β = 0.28, p < .01; β = 0.21, p = .01; β = -0.23, p = .01, respectively). All other pathways were not significant. Therefore, it appears that when all family variables were controlled, although several variables were significantly linked to fathers’ lax parenting, neither fathers’ attributions nor lax parenting were related to child behaviour and mothers’ lax parenting practices were only marginally related to child behavior.     Next, child gender was investigated as a moderator for these relationships. Comparisons of a model with all parameters constrained to be equal with a model with only regression weights allowed to vary for boys and girls demonstrated no significant difference, F2diff(15) = 7.08, p = .96. Therefore, gender was not a moderator of the relationships in this model. Ethnicity was also investigated as a moderator for these relationships. There was no significant chi-square difference between the two models (all parameters constrained to be equal vs. all parameters constrained to be equal except regression weights; F2diff(15) = 23.63, p = .07). Therefore, ethnicity did not moderate the relationships in the model. Family ethnicity was also investigated as a covariate in the model (Figure 3.4). With family ethnicity controlled, the model fit adequately, F2(23) = 27.83, p = .22, CFI = 0.97, TLI = 0.93, RMSEA = 0.04. Specifically, both 47  mothers’ lax parenting practices and fathers’ lax parenting practices were significantly related to child behaviour problems. Mothers’ attributions were marginally related to mothers’ lax parenting practices. More negative attributions by mothers’ and fathers’ were related to more lax parenting practices by fathers. In addition, more similar parent attributions were related to less lax parenting practices by fathers. As a result, when family ethnicity is controlled, both mothers’ and fathers’ lax parenting are uniquely associated with child behaviour problems, but while mothers’ lax parenting seem only to be marginally associated with mothers’ attributions, fathers’ lax parenting practices appear to be associated with their own attributions, their partners’ attributions, and the similarity between theirs and their partners’ attributions.  However, it is recognized that due to the cross-sectional nature of the study, it is impossible to make conclusions about the directions of the relationships among parent attributions, lax parenting practices, and child behaviour problems. As a post hoc analysis to explore the possibility that a model in the opposite direction may also be a plausible explanation for the data, I conducted an SEM analysis using the latent variable of child behaviour problems to predict mothers’, fathers’, and interparent attributions and lax parenting practices (See Figure 3.5). The resultant model fit well, F2(26)= 27.79, p = .37; CFI = 0.99 TLI = 0.98; RMSEA = 0.02. This analysis demonstrated some similar links as the first model (Figure 3.4) with regards to associations between fathers’ attributions, fathers’ lax parenting practices, and child behaviour, and mothers’ lax parenting practices and child behaviour. However, a new link was found between child behaviour problems and mothers’ attributions. Overall, results suggest bidirectional links between mothers’ lax parenting practices and child problems, fathers’ lax parenting practices and child problems, and fathers’ negative attributions and fathers’ lax parenting practices.  48   Figure 3.4 Full model with parenting variables and child behaviour problems controlling for family ethnicity.  β = -0.23, p = .01* β = 0.21, p = .01* Mother s’ Negative Attributions Fathers’ Negative Attributions Child Behaviour Problems Mother Report Father Report Child Report Mothers’ Lax Parenting Practices Fathers’ Lax Parenting Practices Similarity of Mothers’ and Fathers’ Negative Attributions Note.  Pathway statistics only reported for significant pathways. Non-significant pathways not shown. All correlations allowed between independent and mediator variables, though not shown.  Model fit statistics: F2(23)= 27.83, p = .22; CFI = 0.97 TLI = 0.93; RMSEA = 0.04 β = 0.28, p = .001* Observed Behaviour β = 0.24, p = .02* Similarity of Mothers’ and Fathers’ Lax Parenting Practices 49   Figure 3.5 Full model in the opposite direction with mothers, fathers, and interparent similarity parenting variables and child behaviour problemsβ = 0.36, p < .001*  β = 0.21,  = .04* Mother s’ Negative Attributions Fathers’ Negative Attributions Child Behaviour Problems Mother Report Father Report Child Report Mothers’ Lax Parenting Practices Father Lax Parenting Practices Similarity of Mothers’ and Fathers’ Negative Attributions Note. Pathway statistics only reported for significant pathways (solid lines). All correlations allowed between independent and mediator variables, though not shown.  Model fit statistics: F2(26)= 27.79, p = .37; CFI = 0.99 TLI = 0.98; RMSEA = 0.02 β = 0.24, p < .01* Observed Behaviour β = 0.35, p < .001* Similarity of Mothers’ and Fathers’ Lax Parenting Practices 50   3.9.2 Second Exploratory Question  The second exploratory question addresses the concern of whether there are differences in child behaviour in families when not only the similarity, but also the valence and gender differences in parent attributions and lax parenting are considered. This question was posed to provide an alternate means to ICCs for testing interparent similarity of attributions and lax parenting practices given the inability of ICCs to distinguish between similar positive and similar negative attributions/parenting practices, nor to account for which parent is more or less negative.   Mothers’ and fathers’ attributions scores were split at the median, and based on mother and father similarity in placement above or below the median in the attribution scores, four groups were formed: 1) mothers and fathers with relatively similar levels of less negative parental attributions (Both less negative group; n = 41), 2) families where mothers had relatively more negative attributions while fathers had less negative attributions (Mother more negative group, father less negative; n = 32), 3) families where mothers had relatively less negative attributions while fathers had more negative attributions (Mother less negative, father more negative group; n = 34), and 4) mothers and fathers with relatively similar levels of more negative parental attributions (Both more negative group; n = 41). The same was done for mothers’ and fathers’ lax parenting practice scores (Both less negative group n = 52; Mother more negative, father less negative group n = 20; Mother less negative, father more negative group n = 23; Both more negative group n = 52).   The dependent variable for this analysis was a composite variable of child behaviour problems, composed from mother-, father-, and self-reports of child behaviour, as well observed 51  externalizing child behaviour, consistent with the variables that formed the latent variable in the SEM models. Despite unequal sample sizes per group, Levene’s test of homogeneity of variances was not violated in the comparisons of either the attribution groups or lax parenting practices groups, F(3,144) = 0.79, p = .50; F(2,142) = 0.66, p  = .52, respectively.  A one-way between-groups ANOVA for similarity of parental attributions demonstrated a statistically significant difference between the four groups in the level of child behaviour problems, F(3,144) = 5.09, p = .002. The effect size indicated a medium effect of the differences in mean scores (η2 = .10). Post hoc comparisons using the Tukey HSD test indicated that in the group where both mothers and fathers made less negative attributions (M = -0.29, SD = 0.51) the child behaviour problems score was significantly lower than the group where mothers made less negative, and fathers made more negative attributions (M = 0.21, SD = 0.63) and the group where both parents made more negative attributions (M = 0.15, SD = 0.69). None of the other groups differed in their average levels of child behaviour problems (See Figure 3.6). 52   Figure 3.6 Average child behaviour scores for parents with varying degrees of similarity of attributions  A similar analysis was conducted to explore the relationship of parental similarity of lax parenting practices with child behaviour problems. Families were again divided into four groups (Both less negative parenting; Mother more negative, father less negative; Mother less negative, father more negative; Both more negative). There was a significant child behaviour problem difference between these four groups, F(3,143) = 6.16, p = .001, η2 = .11, suggesting a medium effect. Similar to above, post hoc comparisons using Tukey HSD test indicated that children of parents in the group where both reported less lax parenting practices (M = -0.26, SD = 0.62) demonstrated significantly fewer behaviour problems than children in the group where mothers reported less and fathers reported more lax parenting practices (M = 0.21, SD = 0.70) and the group where both parents reported more lax parenting practices (M = 0.21, SD = 0.60). There * * Note.  Asterisk* indicates significant differences at p < .05 53  were no other differences between groups (Figure 3.7).   Figure 3.7 Average child behaviour scores for parents with varying degrees of similarity of lax parenting practices  It is possible that although mothers and fathers attributions/parenting practices were categorized according to where they lie in relation to the median, there may still be mean level differences between the four groups in mothers’ or fathers’ negative attributions/parenting practices. For example, mothers in the mothers’ less negative and fathers’ more negative group may hold more negative attributions/parenting practices than mothers in the both less negative group and this may account for the preceding results. As a post hoc analysis to test this possibility, I conducted two one-way ANOVAs for the differences in mothers’ attributions and fathers’ attributions (dependent variables) in the four attribution similarity groups. Results indicated significant group differences for both mothers’ attributions and fathers’ attributions, * * Note. Asterisk* indicates significant differences at p < .05 54  F(3,144) = 89.12, p < .001 and F(3,144) = 92.75, p < .001 respectively. For mothers, post hoc analyses confirmed only expected differences (i.e., significant differences only between groups where mothers had less negative attributions vs. groups where mothers had more negative attributions). For fathers’ attributions, post hoc analyses also confirmed mostly expected differences. However, one unexpected difference was that fathers in the both less negative group (M = 2.53, SD = 0.40) made significantly less negative attributions than fathers in the father less negative and mother more negative group (M = 2.78, SD = 0.47; p = .04). However, this difference may not be relevant for the findings as these two groups of fathers’ with less negative attributions did not differ significantly in the level of child problems.   Two additional one-way ANOVAs were conducted for the differences in mothers’ and fathers’ lax parenting practices (dependent variables) across the four lax parenting practices similarity groups. Again, results indicated significant group differences for both mothers’ lax parenting and fathers’ lax parenting, F(3,143) = 86.31, p < .001 and F(3,143) = 63.37, p < .001 respectively. For mothers’ lax parenting practices, as with their attributions, post hoc tests indicated only expected differences (i.e., significant differences only between groups where mothers had less negative parenting practices vs. groups where mothers had more negative parenting practices). Similarly, post hoc tests for group differences in fathers’ parenting practices demonstrated only expected differences.  Therefore, for the most part, differences in mean levels of attributions/parenting practices were in the expected directions for the four attributions and four lax parenting practices groups, except for a significant difference between negative attributions of fathers’ in the both less negative group and negative attributions of fathers in the father less negative and mother more negative group. However, as there were no differences in the child behaviour problems of these 55  two groups of fathers with less negative attributions, these group differences did not account for the current findings. Therefore, examining interparent similarity categorically indicated that couples where both had less negative attributions and/or lax parenting practices had children with fewer behaviour problems than couples where mothers and fathers had similar, but more negative attributions/parenting practices. Interestingly, interparent dissimiliarity was only associated with more child behaviour problems when fathers’ were the parent with the more negative attributions/parenting practices. When mothers’ had more negative attributions/parenting practices but fathers were less negative, there were no differences in child problems compared to any of the other groups. 56  Chapter 4: Discussion  Research on parenting stresses the importance of parent attributions and practices (Nix et al., 1999; Smith Slep & O'Leary, 1998), and yet little is known about the linkages between attributions, parenting practices, and child behaviour problems within a family systems context. Therefore, this study addressed the knowledge gap in the literature by providing further understanding of the mechanisms underlying parenting a child in a two-parent environment, with hopes of translating these findings into practical recommendations for addressing child behaviour problems within the family.    Results indicated that, consistent with past studies (e.g., Johnston, Hommersen, & Seipp, 2009; Nix et al., 1999; Smith Slep & O'Leary, 1998), both mothers’ negative attributions and lax parenting practices were significantly related to more child behaviour problems. However, evidence for mediation by mothers’ lax parenting practices between mothers’ attributions and child behaviour problems was marginal. To answer the second research question by testing these relationships for fathers, results demonstrated that fathers’ lax parenting practices were significantly related to child behaviour problems, and mediated the relationship between fathers’ attributions and child behaviour problems. The third research question demonstrated that the interparent similarity of negative attributions and lax parenting practices, as measured by ICCs, were not significantly related to child behaviour problems. This study also aimed to identify the relative contributions of each parents’ attributions and lax parenting practices, and the interparent similarity of attributions and lax parenting practices to child behaviour problems while controlling for all other parenting variables. That is, within the context of a two-parent family, do the cognitions and behaviors of individual parents, or interparent similarity of cognitions and behaviours, predict child behaviour problems uniquely? Results from this analysis indicated that 57  while controlling for family ethnicity and all other parenting and interparent similarity variables, only mothers’ and fathers’ lax parenting practices were significantly related to child behaviour problems. Therefore, in all analyses using ICCs to assess interparent similarity, interparent similarity did not seem to be related to child behaviour problems. However, ICCs may not be an accurate measure of interparent similarity since they are unable to untangle whether both parents carry similar positive (i.e., less negative), or similar negative attributions/parenting practices, as well as whether parent gender is important (i.e., if mothers make more negative attributions vs. if fathers make more negative attributions). Therefore, a categorical approach that considered both level of mother and father similarity and valence of attributions and behaviors was used and demonstrated that families where fathers held more negative attributions and more lax parenting practices, regardless of similarity and mothers’ valence, had children with more behaviour problems. 4.1 Mothers’ Attributions and Parenting Practices  With respect to the first research question, the results demonstrated that mothers’ more negative attributions and lax parenting practices were both related to greater child behaviour problems. These results are consistent with previous research (e.g., Chen, Johnston, Sheeber, & Leve, 2008; Healy, Murray, Cooper, Hughes, & Halligan, 2013; McKee et al., 2007). Results also indicated that, although mothers’ attributions were significantly related to mothers’ lax parenting practices, lax parenting practices only marginally mediated the relationship between mothers’ attributions and child behaviour problems. However, even though there was marginal evidence of mediation by lax parenting practices, results also demonstrated that mothers’ attributions remained significantly associated with child behaviour problems even when accounting for lax parenting. In contrast, previous studies have found clear evidence that links 58  between mothers’ negative attributions and child behaviour problems are fully mediated through mothers’ negative harsh/overreactive parenting practices (e.g., Nix et al., 1999; Slep & O’Leary, 1998). This finding from the current study suggests that lax discipline may not be as important as a mediator between mothers’ attributions and child behaviour problems as harsh or overreactive discipline. Moreover, considering that Johnston et al. (2009) found that mothers’ negative attributions continued to predict child behaviour problems even when accounting for overreactive parenting practices, and that the current study found similar findings but with lax parenting practices, it is possible that mothers’ parenting practices, as measured in these studies, do not fully capture all the ways that mothers’ attributions impact child behaviour. That is, there may be other variables that mediate this relationship and communicate these attributions to the child, such as mothers’ expressions of negative emotions (Eisenberg et al., 2001).   Interestingly, the results of the current study suggest that mothers’ negative attributions (e.g., child is to blame, is responsible, etc.) are not only related to harsh or overreactive parenting, but also significantly related to lax parenting. In other words, when a mother believes her child is responsible or to blame for misbehavior, she may overreact with harsh threats of punishment, which she is unable to follow through with or may fail to discipline appropriately out of a belief that the child’s behavior is unmanageable or unchangeable. For example, a mother may respond to child misbehavior by threatening a lengthy time out or loss of privileges, but may renege on this extreme threat later. In addition, it is possible that more negative attributions, especially attributions of globality and stability (i.e., the cause of the misbehavior will happen in many situations and will likely happen again in the future), may translate into withdrawn and lax parenting. In other words, if a parent believes these types of child misbehaviours will always occur, she may not persist in attempts to discipline or monitor her child. To my knowledge, there 59  are no previous studies exploring the specificity of relationships between dimensions of parent attributions and domains of negative parenting and further research in this area is warranted. 4.2 Fathers’ Attributions and Parenting Practices  More negative attributions and lax parenting practices among fathers were associated with more child behaviour problems, consistent with previous literature (e.g., Chen et al., 2008; Hoza et al., 2000; Keown, 2012; D. A. Nelson & Coyne, 2009). However, in previous literature there has been no evidence of a mediating role of fathers’ lax parenting practices between fathers’ attributions and child behaviour problems. The current study thus adds to the literature by providing preliminary evidence of such a relationship. Results demonstrate not only that fathers’ negative attributions are associated with fathers’ lax parenting practices, but also that the indirect effect between fathers’ attributions and child behaviours, through fathers’ lax parenting practices, is significant. In other words, the relationship between fathers’ attributions and child behaviour problems is fully mediated (though only as evidenced by a cross-sectional design) by fathers’ lax parenting practices. Therefore, this finding confirms previous research (e.g., Jia et al. 2012; Keown, 2012) and suggests that fathers play an important role in shaping child behaviour problems through their attributions as mediated by their lax parenting practices.   Although there is slightly more support for full mediation between fathers’ attributions with child behaviour problems through fathers’ lax parenting practices than there was for this mediation occurring among mothers (evidenced by a significant indirect effect for fathers, but a marginally significant indirect effect for mothers), for fathers the direct relationship between fathers’ attributions and child behaviour problems remained marginally significant (p = .07), even when accounting for lax parenting practices. Therefore, as with mothers, it is likely that there may be other mediating variables that account for this relationship for both genders of 60  parents, such as expressions of negative emotions, or other types of negative parenting practices such as harsh discipline. 4.3 Similarity of Parental Attributions and Parenting Practices  The third research question investigated the relationships among interparent similarity of parent attributions, interparent similarity of lax parenting practices, and child behaviour problems. Results indicated that these variables were not related as expected. In the SEM analysis, greater interparent similarity in parent attributions was not associated with child behaviour problems. As such, similarity of lax parenting practices did not mediate the relationship between similarity of parent attributions and child behaviour problems. These results contradict previous research showing a significant relationship between interparent similarity of discipline and externalizing child behaviour problems (Harvey, 2000). One main difference between the current study and Harvey (2000) is that this study utilizes a community sample with most children in the average range of externalizing and internalizing problems, while the Harvey (2000) study tested children with ADHD. It is possible that interparent similarity may be more important for children with behavior problems such as ADHD, perhaps because these children rely more heavily upon the external feedback they receive from their parents and are more sensitive to inconsistencies in this feedback, while typically developing children are able to navigate parental dissimilarities with more ease (Barkley, 1997). Further discussion on ICCs as a measure of interparent similarity will be presented in the section below addressing the limitations of this measure. 4.4 Overall Family Model A family systems perspective suggests that one parent’s relationship with a child cannot be examined without also considering the other parent’s relationship with the child, as well as the 61  interparent dynamics. Analysis testing this perspective explored the relationships among mothers’, fathers’, and interparent similarity of attributions and lax parenting practices and child behaviour problems. Results indicate that both mothers’ and fathers’ lax parenting practices are significantly associated to child behaviour problems, even while controlling for the other parent and for the interparent similarity. These results partially support previous findings that demonstrate significant relationships between both parents’ negative parenting practices and child externalizing behaviour (Gryczkowski, Jordan, & Mercer, 2009). However, previous studies have suggested moderation of these relationships by child gender, which was not found in this study. Gryczkowski et al. (2009) found that mothers’ and fathers’ poor monitoring practices were significantly related to greater externalizing behaviour in girls, but not boys, although mothers’ lax discipline was related to more child externalizing behavior in both genders. Another study also found that mothers’ parenting practices were more strongly related to externalizing behaviour problems than fathers’ parenting, but only for parents of boys. However, despite these differing strengths of relationships, both mothers’ and fathers’ parenting practices were significantly related to both child internalizing and externalizing behaviours (Kaczynski, Lindahl, Malik, & Laurenceau, 2006). In the current study, child gender did not moderate the relationships between mothers’ and fathers’ parenting and child behaviour problems. One explanation for this difference in findings may be that the current study utilized a composite measure of negative parenting practices (poor monitoring and lax discipline) as well as a composite measure of internalizing and externalizing child behavior problems, and was therefore unable to test the effects of child gender on relationships between specific dimensions of parenting practices and child behavior as was done in previous studies. Although all of these studies, including the current study, 62  demonstrate the importance of both mothers’ and fathers’ parenting practices, further investigation into moderation of parenting practices and child behaviour problems by child gender is warranted.  Other studies have found that when considered together, fathers’ parenting practices were associated with child variables over and above mothers’ parenting practices. For instance, Nelson and Coyne (2009) found that only fathers’, and not mothers’, psychological control and corporal punishment were associated with boys’ hostile attributions and feelings of distress, both of which are linked to aggression. Again, different conceptualizations of parenting practices (e.g., psychological control/corporal punishment vs. lax parenting/poor monitoring) and child behaviour (aggression vs. total child behaviour problems) may be responsible for the differences in these findings and the present study.  When considering whether parenting practices mediate the relationship between attributions and child behaviour in the larger model, there is a marginally significant indirect relationship for fathers. That is, with all other variables in the model considered, fathers’ lax parenting practices marginally mediate the relationship between fathers’ attributions and child behaviour problems (β = 0.06, p = .08). These results support recent findings by Williamson and Johnston (2014), in that while controlling for the other parent, only fathers’ negative attributions predicted child behaviour problems. Consistent with Williamson and Johnston (2014), results of the current study indicated that the relationship between mothers’ attributions and child behaviour problems (either direct or indirect through lax parenting practices) was not significant when fathers’ attributions were also considered. Therefore, the current findings point to the importance of fathers’ attributions, and suggest that one mechanism by which fathers’ negative attributions are related to child behaviour problems is through their negative lax parenting 63  practices.   In addition to the unique associations from mothers’ and fathers’ lax parenting practices to child behaviour, there are also interrelations among parent attributions, interparent similarity of attributions, and lax parenting practices in the model. Specifically, fathers’ lax parenting practices are not only significantly associated with fathers’ own attributions, but also with more negative attributions by mothers, and with greater dissimilarity in mothers’ and fathers’ attributions. These findings fall in line with suggestions that fathers are particularly influenced and affected by mothers’ perceptions of family relationships (Parke, 2002). Moreover, findings by Kaczynski and colleagues (2006) demonstrated that ineffective parenting by both mothers and fathers may act as a mechanism between marital conflict and child internalizing and externalizing behaviour. The current results partially mirror these findings with regard to fathers, in that the dissimilarity of mothers’ and fathers’ attributions, which may be associated with marital conflict, is related to fathers’ negative parenting practices.   Finally, it must be emphasized that due to the cross-sectional nature of the study, it is impossible to make conclusions about the directions of the relationships among parent attributions, parenting practices, and child behaviour problems. Findings from the SEM model in the opposite direction indicated that caution must be taken when interpreting results and that further longitudinal and experimental studies are warranted. In fact, evidence from other studies indicates that the relationship between parenting practices and child behaviour problems is bidirectional (e.g., Burke, Pardini, & Loeber, 2008; Combs-Ronto, Olson, Lunkenheimer, & Sameroff, 2009). A recent study utilized an autoregressive cross-lagged longitudinal model to test the direction of relationships between mothers’ and fathers’ parenting practices and child disruptive behaviour from kindergarten to grade 2 (Besnard et al., 2013). The authors found that, 64  for both positive and negative parenting, the relationships were reciprocal when children were younger, but that as children grew older, children’s disruptive behaviour influenced parenting rather than the other way around. Children in the current sample were older than the sample in Besnard et al. (2013). If this pattern from the Besnard et al. (2013) study continued to the age range of the current study, it is possible that the current results may actually indicate child to parent effects rather than the other way around. Clearly, more work is needed to understand the transactional nature of the relationships among parents’ attributions, parenting practices, and child behaviour and how these relationships may vary across samples with different characteristics. 4.5 Problems with ICCs  In the above analyses, interparent similarity as measured by ICCs was not associated with child behaviour problems, either when investigated alone (Figure 3.3) or along with other parenting variables (Figure 3.4). As such, it is possible that ICCs may not be a useful measure of interparent similarity. Bivariate correlations demonstrate that the ICCs for attributions were not significantly related to child problems, and, unexpected, the ICCs for lax parenting practices were positively and significantly related to a composite score of child behaviour problems (calculated using mother-, father-, self-, and observed report). This is opposite of the direction that was hypothesized, in that these results indicate that a greater degree of similarity of mother-father lax parenting practices is associated with greater child behaviour problems. There may be several reasons for these nonsignificant and unexpected correlation. First, it is possible that ICCs calculated between mothers’ and fathers’ self-reports of attributions and lax parenting practices may not directly translate into parenting inconsistencies that the child perceives or that generate behavior problems. It could be that even though parents report different responses on the 65  questionnaire measures, their actual behavior may not reveal these differences. For example, they may compensate for each other’s inconsistency in parenting (e.g., mother threatens punishment, and father follows through with the punishment). One method to address this possibility would be to ask children for their perceptions of their parents’ attributions and lax parenting practices and to calculate ICCs among these child-perceptions scores. A recent study in a community sample of 658 children (8-20 years old) that utilized this strategy found that children’s perceived dissimilarity in mother versus father emotional warmth and overprotection was associated with child internalizing and externalizing problems, over and above the effect of parents’ individual levels of these variables (Berkien, Louwerse, Verhulst, & van der Ende, 2012). Therefore, in further investigation of the associations of dissimilarity of attributions and lax parenting practices with child behaviour problems, it may be important to incorporate children’s ratings of their mothers’ and fathers’ attributions (e.g., how much does your mother or your father see you as to blame/responsible?) and parenting practices in order to examine how similarity in child perceptions of mothers’ and fathers’ parenting may be related to ICCs calculated between mother and father self-reports.  Second, as previously mentioned, one caveat of the ICC is its inability to distinguish between the valence of attributions/parenting practices considered. That is, couples who are similar with less negative parenting practices may have the same ICCs as couples who are similar but with more negative parenting practices. We know from previous research that more negative attributions/parenting practices are correlates of child behaviour problems (e.g., Johnston, Hommersen, & Seipp, 2009; Wilson, Gardner, Burton, & Leung, 2006), and therefore valence is important to consider. Moreover, ICCs are unable to distinguish the direction of the difference between mothers and fathers. In other words, if parents are dissimilar in their 66  attributions/parenting practices, does it matter if it is the mother or father whose attributions/parenting practices are more negative?   In the second exploratory analysis, interparent similarity was assessed categorically to investigate this issue. Similar results were found for both mothers’ and fathers’ negative attributions, and negative lax parenting practices. When mothers and fathers were both categorized as having less negative attributions/lax parenting practices, their children had significantly fewer child behaviour problems than in families where the father reported relatively more negative attributions/lax parenting practices, or when both mother and father reported relatively more negative attributions/lax parenting practices. These results provide some insight into the lack of relationship between the ICCs for attributions and lax parenting practices and child behaviour problems (Figure 4). That is, parents who are classified as both having less lax parenting have children with significantly lower levels of behaviour problems than couples who are classified as having similar, but more lax parenting. As the ICCs are not able to differentiate between these two groups, it may be that mother-father similarity in lax parenting is driving the significant, positive associations between the ICCs for lax parenting practices and child problems.   Moreover, these results indicate that when fathers have more negative attributions or lax parenting practices (either alone or combined with more negative lax parenting in the mother), their children have more behaviour problems than when both parents are classified as being less negative. These results suggest that fathers’ attributions and parenting practices may be particularly important, especially when there is dissimilarity between mothers and fathers. Various considerations may be raised in the interpretation of these results pointing to the particular importance of fathers’ negativity. First, as with the rest of the study, it is impossible to 67  infer the direction of this relationship. It could be the case that, in comparison to mothers, fathers interpret and rate the causes of child misbehaviours more negatively, or parent more negatively when their child has greater behaviour problems. In other words, fathers may simply be more reactive to problematic child behaviour compared to mothers.  In support of this hypothesis, Lansford et al. (2011) demonstrated that fathers reported more negative attributions (i.e., the extent to which the child was stubborn and resisted parenting efforts) than mothers. In addition, fathers engage in more corporal punishment and harsh parenting compared to mothers (McKee et al., 2007). However, the research on these differential responses is inconclusive; other studies have found that mothers spank their children more often than fathers (Mahoney, Donnelly, Lewis, & Maynard, 2000). Furthermore, Gryczkowski et al. (2009) found that, although mothers were significantly better at monitoring child behavior than fathers, there were no differences between mothers and fathers on lax discipline. Similarly, the current study found no mean level differences between mothers’ and fathers’ negative attributions and lax parenting practices, weakening the argument that the results are due to fathers interpreting their child’s behaviour more negatively and/or parenting more negatively in reaction to child misbehaviour than mothers.   A second interpretation of the importance of fathers may lie in the fact that although mothers’ and fathers’ attributions/parenting practices were categorized according to where they lie in relation to the median, there may still be mean level differences among the four groups in mothers’ or fathers’ negative attributions/parenting practices. In other words, mothers in the mother less negative and father more negative group may hold more negative attributions/parenting practices than mothers in the both less negative group. Such a difference would confound the interpretation as it would be unclear whether there is something unique 68  about fathers holding negative attributions/parenting practices, or whether it is simply that both mothers and fathers were more negative. However, when this possibility was tested for the four attribution groups, differences were all in the expected directions for average levels of mothers and fathers’ negative attributions (e.g., significant differences only between groups where mothers had less negative attributions vs. groups where mothers had more negative attributions). The one exception to this was that fathers in the both less negative group had less negative attributions than fathers in the mother more negative and father less negative group. However, this difference did not explain the importance of the association of fathers’ more negative attributions to child problems, as these two groups of fathers with less negative attributions did not differ significantly in the level of child problems. Differences were all in the expected directions for mothers’ and fathers’ average lax parenting practices in the four groups of lax parenting practices. Therefore, the group differences that are apparent in the comparisons of these four groups with child behaviour problems, specifically the importance of fathers’ level of negative attributions and lax parenting, cannot be explained by significant differences across the groups in mean levels of mothers’ and fathers’ negative attributions/parenting practices.  As other possible interpretations do not adequately explain these findings, the interpretation that fathers play a particularly important role in parenting through their attributions and lax parenting practices may be most accurate. For instance, it may be the case that children are more sensitive and susceptible to fathers’ negative cognitions and behaviours. Indeed, past research has demonstrated the important role that fathers play in influencing child behaviour. For example, studies have demonstrated that fathers’ play, more than mothers’ behaviours, predicted social competence, peer acceptance, and popularity in children (Parke et al., 2004), and that fathers’ involvement had a stronger effect on adolescents’ well-being than mothers’ involvement 69  (Flouri & Buchanan, 2003). Conversely, a lack of father involvement was found to be more strongly associated with adolescent delinquency and aggression than was a lack of maternal involvement (e.g., Harris et al. 1998; Loeber and Stouthamer-Loeber, 1986). Furthermore, Williamson and Johnston (2014) found that only fathers’ attributions were predictive of child behaviour problems, over and above mothers’ attributions. Therefore, the current findings suggest that fathers’ attributions and parenting may demonstrate differential and unique relations with child problems, but research has yet to point to why this may be.  Nevertheless, it is also important to note that within a family, when a mother has more negative attributions/parenting practices and a father has less negative attributions/parenting practices, the mean level of child behaviour problems is not significantly different from other types of families. That is, from the current analysis no differences appear in the level of child problems in families with only mothers with more negative parenting, families where both parents are more negative, and where only the father is more negative. Therefore, although interpretations about the role of fathers’ negative attributions/parenting practices can be made, the role of mothers remains somewhat unclear. In other words, it is unknown whether mothers’ more negative attributions/parenting practices play a unique role, beyond fathers’ attributions/parenting, in their association with child behaviour problems, as this interpretation is only tenable if the level of child behaviour problems in the group of families with mothers more negative and fathers less negative attributions/parenting was significantly less than the mothers less negative and fathers more negative, and the both more negative groups.   Lastly, although the categorical analysis appeared as a useful alternative to ICCs in assessing the influence of interparent similarity, there are many shortcomings to using median splits. They offer a very crude index and obscure what may be important, more nuanced 70  differences among parents. For instance, if one parent’s score is slightly above the median, and the other parent’s score is slightly below, this couple will be categorized in one of the “dissimilar” groups despite the fact that their scores may be quite similar.  One solution to this problem would be to use tertile rather than median splits and exclude the middle group. Unfortunately, this procedure results in a loss of a large portion of the sample. When these tertile splits were performed on the current dataset, although the same pattern of effects was revealed, the differences between groups for both attributions and parenting practices were no longer statistically significant, F(3,64) = 2.22, p = .094; F(3,60) = 2.55, p = .064, respectively, presumably due to the loss of statistical power.   As it stands, there appear to be contradictory findings in the current study. Conclusions from the full model SEM analysis (Figure 3.4) suggest that fathers may be particularly affected by mothers’ perceptions of family relationships. However, the categorical analysis suggests that fathers’ negative attributions and lax parenting practices are important even in the context of mothers’ negative attributions and lax parenting practices. It is possible that these contradictions may reflect differences in statistical methodologies (e.g., continuous vs. categorical variables, SEM analyses vs. between-group comparisons). That is, a categorical perspective of the data may obscure any effect that mothers may contribute to the relationship between fathers’ scores and child functioning.   Although there are several caveats to interpreting the categorical analysis from this study, results suggest that, regardless of similarity or mothers’ attributions/parenting practices, when fathers’ attributions and/or parenting practices are negative, their children have significantly more behaviour problems. Although no conclusions can be made about the added value of mothers’ attributions and parenting practices, these results encourage further investigation into 71  both mothers’ and fathers’ roles and the importance of both similarity and valence of mother and father negative attributions and parenting practices and their association with child behaviour problems. 4.6 Limitations and Strengths  There are a number of shortcomings to this study. First, as previously mentioned, the cross-sectional nature of the study precludes conclusions regarding the directionality of the associations. Although there is some evidence that negative parent attributions may contribute to child behaviour problems through lax parenting practices, it is also likely that more child behaviour problems may lead to more lax parenting as well as more negative attributions. Furthermore, given concerns that mediation assessed using cross-sectional data may produce biased estimates of longitudinal parameters (Maxwell & Cole, 2007), I acknowledge that the mediation analysis performed in this study serves only as a precursor to further longitudinal investigations. That is, since the results indicated cross-sectional mediation of the parent attribution to child behavior link via lax parenting practices (marginal for mothers), this provides support for conducting more resource and time intensive longitudinal studies to further investigate and establish the direction of causality in these relationships.  A second limitation to this study is the sample size. Sample size requirements for SEM analyses are a significant challenge and often general rules-of-thumb are outdated and/or inaccurate (Wolf, Harrington, Clark, & Miller, 2013). Although power seemed to be adequate for the simpler models (Figures 3.1-3.3), the complexity of the largest model tested in this study (Figure 3.4), as well as the moderator analyses (e.g., gender and ethnicity) are likely to mean that these analyses lacked power with a sample size of 148. Therefore, interpretations of these analyses should be made with caution. Future investigations with larger samples are warranted to 72  confirm these findings.  Third, given the research questions of this study addressing the similarity of interparent attributions and lax parenting practices, only two-parent families were recruited and both parents needed to consent to participate. It is likely that couples with a significant amount of conflict, coparenting difficulties, and/or stress were underrepresented and that relatively well functioning couples were over-represented in the sample. Therefore, the generalizability of current findings is limited to similar types of families. In addition, the majority of families included in this study were from European/North American or Asian backgrounds, which further limits the generalizability of findings to other cultural groups. Lastly, given that this was a community sample of families, the absolute levels of child behaviour problems, negative parenting practices, and negative attributions were relatively low. Although it is important to also investigate the relationships between parenting and child behaviour in such families, this again limits the generalizability of findings to families or children with more frequent or more severe problems.  Despite these limitations, one of the main strengths of this study is the use of multiple raters to inform the latent variable of child behaviour problems (e.g., mothers’ report, fathers’ report, child report, and observed child behaviour). Many previous studies in this domain have utilized same-rater reports for parent and child variables of interest, leading to confusion as to how much the results reflect rater or method variance rather than actual associations between variables. This is especially the case with parents’ attributions and parents’ reports of child behaviour problems. For instance, a recent study found that both mothers and fathers who made more negative attributions about their child’s behaviour also reported their children to have more externalizing problems (Nelson, O'Brien, Calkins, & Keane, 2013). Rather than an indication of a relationship that more negative attributions by parents are associated with more child problem 73  behaviours, these associations may simply indicate confirmation bias, in which the individual is cognizant only of information confirming their beliefs and ignores information contradicting their beliefs. This study addresses this problem by utilizing multiple informants.   Another strength of this study is the inclusion of both mother and father data, which allows for analysis of functioning within the family systems. As a result, mothers and fathers from the same family can be utilized to assess questions about the similarity between parents (e.g., ICCs), the roles of each parent (e.g., families where fathers are more negative while mothers are more positive and vice versa) as well as comparisons between mothers’ and fathers’ data (e.g., do mothers demonstrate more negative attributions for their child than fathers for the same child?). However, future studies could include additional observational assessments of parent attributions and parenting practices, as well as cross-informant reports. 74  Chapter 5: Conclusions and Future Directions  Results from the current study demonstrate that both mothers’ and fathers’ lax parenting practices carry important associations with child behaviour problems. When assessed individually, both mothers’ and fathers’ lax parenting practices appear to mediate the relationship between their negative attributions and child behaviour problems (though this mediation is only marginally significant for mothers). Although the causal direction of these relationships is yet to be established, these results suggest that when parents make more negative attributions about their child’s behaviour, this is associated with the use of more lax discipline, which in turn is associated with more child behaviour problems.  The results from the current study also suggest that the similarity of mothers’ and fathers’ attributions and lax parenting practices, as measured by ICCs, are not generally important contributors to child behaviour problems. However, when interparent similarity is examined in a manner that allows for separation of similarity of positive versus negative attributions/parenting, there are differential associations with child problems. Children had the fewest problems when both parents reported relatively less negative attributions/parenting compared to when both parents reported relatively more negative attributions/parenting. Thus, similarity alone was not as important as both similarity and valence of attributions/parenting practices. Furthermore, results indicate that fathers may play a particularly important role, in that when fathers reported relatively more negative parenting, regardless of mothers’ parenting, the child had a greater degree of behaviour problems.   Clinically, results from the current study suggest that when working with two-parent families of children with behaviour problems, both parents should be considered. Although research shows that mothers are typically more involved than fathers with their children 75  (Gryczkowski et al., 2009), it is also the case that the important role that fathers play in parenting is increasingly recognized (e.g., Keown, 2012; Nelson & Coyne, 2009). Therefore, the current findings suggest that more effort should be made by researchers and clinicians to encourage fathers’ involvement in parenting programs and research.   As mentioned previously, future studies should investigate the directionality of the relationships suggested by the current study. In addition, the results of this study suggest that ICCs may not be an appropriate indicator to assess the relationship between the mother-father subsystem with the child. Other methodologies should be utilized to investigate how mothers and fathers parent as a couple, and the effects of this on child behaviour. Finally, the current study did not examine differential relationships between parents’ attributions and different types of parenting practices (e.g., harsh and overreactive parenting vs. lax parenting), different types of child behaviour problems (e.g., internalizing vs. externalizing problems), or the differential associations of these relationships with parent gender and child gender. As previous studies suggest that such differential relationships exist, future efforts should be made to disentangle and investigate the specifics of the general relationships found in the current study. The current study served as a first step into applying family systems theory to the relationships among parenting attributions, parenting practices, and child behaviour problems. The results of this study should encourage movement away from simply assessing dyadic parent-child relationships, to examining the family as a unit. 76  References Achenbach T. M. & Rescorla L. A. 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J., Harrington, K. M., Clark, S. L., & Miller, M. W. (2013). Sample size requirements for structural equation models: An evaluation of power, bias, and solution propriety. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 73, 913–934. doi:10.1177/0013164413495237      89  Appendices Appendix A   Demographics Form General Family Information and Demographics Date Completed: ______________________                                          Subject #: ___________  Part I: General Family Information    First name of child: ____________  1. What is your child’s date of birth? ____________________ (dd/mm/yyyy) 2. Gender? M / F 3. What grade is your child in? ____________ 4. Was your child adopted?  ‰ Yes. Age at adoption: __________ ‰ No, my child is not adopted.  5. Do you have any other children? ‰ Yes. Please write their age(s) and gender(s) below. ____________ _____________ ____________  _____________ ____________  _____________ ____________  _____________  ‰ No, I do not have any other children. 6. Has your child been diagnosed with any disorders, behavior problems, or learning, developmental, or neurological problems? ‰ Yes. Please describe: _________________________________________ ‰ No.  For questions 7-9, please do not count the time your child is asleep or at school.  7. On average, how many hours per week do you work outside the home? (If applicable)   ____________ hours/week  8. On days when you work outside the home, how much time do you spend taking care and doing things with your child? (If applicable)     ____________ hours/day    90    9. On days when you do not work outside the home, how much time do you spend taking care and doing things with your child? (If applicable)           ____________ hours/day Part II: Mother Information 10. What is your relationship to __________________? ‰ Biological mother ‰ Step-mother ‰ Adoptive mother ‰ Other, please explain: __________ 11. How old are you? ___________ (years) 12. How would you describe your ethnicity? ______________________________________ 13. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is not at all, and 10 is completely, how much do you identify yourself as Canadian? (circle one) 1 --------- 2 --------- 3 --------- 4 --------- 5 --------- 6 --------- 7 --------- 8 --------- 9 --------- 10 Not at all                                                                                                                        Completely 14. What is your level of education? ‰ Less than grade 7 ‰ Junior high school ‰ Partial high school (grade 10 or 11) ‰ High school graduate ‰ Partial college/university (min. 1 year) or special training ‰ Standard college or university graduate (i.e.: B.A., B.Ed.) ‰ Graduate or professional training (i.e.: M.A., PhD) 15. Are you currently employed? ‰ Yes. Please briefly describe your occupation: ____________________________________________________________ ‰ No, I am not currently employed.  16. Please check your household income category (before taxes) for this past year:    91  ‰ Less than $5000  ‰  $75 000 - $99 999 ‰ $5000 - $19 999  ‰  $100 000 - $149 999 ‰ $20 000 - $34 999  ‰  $150 000 - $199 999 ‰ $35 000 - $49 999  ‰  $200 000 and higher ‰ $50 000 - $74 999 17. What is your marital status? ‰ Married or common law. How many years? ________ ‰ Divorced or separated  ‰ Widowed ‰ Single Part III: Father Information If applicable, please answer the following questions about your partner: 18. What is your partner’s relationship to __________________? ‰ Biological father ‰ Step-father ‰ Adoptive father ‰ Other, please explain: __________ 19. How old is your partner? ___________ (years) 20. How would you describe your partner’s ethnicity? ________________________________ 21. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is not at all, and 10 is completely, how much does your partner identify themselves as Canadian? (circle one) 1 --------- 2 --------- 3 --------- 4 --------- 5 --------- 6 --------- 7 --------- 8 --------- 9 --------- 10 Not at all                                                                                                                        Completely 22. What is your partner’s level of education? ‰ Less than grade 7 ‰ Junior high school ‰ Partial high school (grade 10 or 11) ‰ High school graduate ‰ Partial college/university (min. 1 year) or special training ‰ Standard college or university graduate (i.e.: B.A., B.Ed.) ‰ Graduate or professional training (i.e.: M.A., PhD) 23. Is your partner currently employed? ‰ Yes. Please briefly describe your partner’s occupation: ____________________________________________________________ ‰ No, they are not currently employed.      92  For questions 24-26, please do not count the time your child is asleep or at school.  24. Thinking of the past month, on average, how many hours per week does your partner work outside the home? (If applicable)  ____________ hours/week 25. Thinking of the past month, on days when your partner is working outside the home, how much time do they spend taking care and doing things with your child?  (If applicable)    ____________ hours/day 26. Thinking of the past month, on days when your partner does not work outside the home, how much time do they spend taking care and doing things with your child?  (If applicable)           ____________ hours/day      93  Appendix B  Attribution Rating Scale 17) Your child’s class has a math quiz every Friday.  On Monday your child receives her mark from last Friday’s quiz.  She failed last week’s quiz.  Think of the one main reason for why your child failed her math quiz.   1) How much of this reason is because of your child or not because of your child?   1 2 3 4 5 6      2) Is this reason something that is a one-time thing or something likely to happen again in the future?  1 2 3 4 5 6    3)  Is this reason specific to the situation versus something that happens in many situations?   1 2 3 4 5 6    4) To what extent did your child intend to fail their math quiz?  1 2 3 4 5 6    5) To what extent should your child be blamed for failing their math quiz?   1 2 3 4 5 6   6) To what extent would you hold your child responsible for failing their math quiz?   1 2 3 4 5 6  Because of  Your child NOT Because of  Your child A one time thing Will happen again in the future                                                                                                           Specific to this situation Happens in many situations Not at all intentional Completely intentional No blame  at all Complete blame Not at all responsible Completely responsible    94  18) Your child is sitting in class.  One of the school counselors knocks on your child’s classroom door and walks in.  The school counselor wants to see your child in their office.  Think of the one main reason for why the guidance counselor wants to see your child in their office.   1) How much of this reason is because of your child or not because of your child?  1 2 3 4 5 6      2) Is this reason something that is a one-time thing or something likely to happen again in the future?   1 2 3 4 5 6    3)  Is this reason specific to the situation versus something that happens in many situations?  1 2 3 4 5 6    4) To what extent did your child intend for her guidance counsellor to want to see her?    1 2 3 4 5 6   5) To what extent should your child be blamed for their guidance counsellor wanting to see her?  1 2 3 4 5 6    6) To what extent would you hold your child responsible for their guidance counselor wanting to see her?   1 2 3 4 5 6  Because of  Your child NOT Because of  Your child A one time thing Will happen again in the future                                                                                                           Specific to this situation Happens in many situations Not at all intentional Completely intentional No blame  at all Complete blame Not at all responsible Completely responsible    95  19) Your child is working on a project for a science fair.  The science fair is only a couple of days away.  You child finds out that her project is not turning out as planned.  Think of the one main reason for why your child’s project is not turning out as planned.   1) How much of this reason is because of your child or not because of your child?  1 2 3 4 5 6      2) Is this reason something that is a one-time thing or something likely to happen again in the future?   1 2 3 4 5 6   3)  Is this reason specific to the situation versus something that happens in many situations?   1 2 3 4 5 6    4) To what extent did your child intend for their science project to not turn out as planned?   1 2 3 4 5 6    5) To what extent should your child be blamed for their science project not turning out as planned?  1 2 3 4 5 6    6) To what extent would you hold your child responsible for their science project not turning out as planned?  1 2 3 4 5 6   Because of  Your child NOT Because of  Your child A one time thing Will happen again in the future                                                                                                           Specific to this situation Happens in many situations Not at all intentional Completely intentional No blame  at all Complete blame Not at all responsible Completely responsible    96  20) Your child is looking forward to spending the day at the amusement park.  The trip is cancelled last minute.  Think of the one main reason for why your child’s trip is cancelled late minute.   1) How much of this reason is because of your child or not because of your child?  1 2 3 4 5 6      2) Is this reason something that is a one-time thing or something likely to happen again in the future?  1 2 3 4 5 6    3)  Is this reason specific to the situation versus something that happens in many situations?  1 2 3 4 5 6    4) To what extent did your child intend for their trip to get cancelled last minute?    1 2 3 4 5 6    5) To what extent should your child be blamed for their trip being cancelled last minute?  1 2 3 4 5 6    6) To what extent would you hold your child responsible for their trip being cancelled last minute?  1 2 3 4 5 6     Because of  Your child NOT Because of  Your child A one time thing Will happen again in the future                                                                                                           Specific to this situation Happens in many situations Not at all intentional Completely intentional No blame  at all Complete blame Not at all responsible Completely responsible    97  29) You always tuck your child in at night and give her a goodnight kiss. Tonight when you go to your child’s room, the light is already out and your child is laying facing away from you. When you say “goodnight,” your child doesn’t say anything back to you.  Think of the one main reason why your child does not say anything back to you.  1) How much of this reason is because of your child or not because of your child?  1 2 3 4 5 6  2) Is this reason a one-time thing or something that is likely to happen again in the future?  1 2 3 4 5 6  3) Is this reason specific to this situation or something that happens in many situations?  1 2 3 4 5 6  4) To what extent did your child intend to not say anything back to you?  1 2 3 4 5 6  5) To what extent should your child be blamed for not saying anything back to you?  1 2 3 4 5 6  6) To what extent would you hold your child responsible for not saying anything back to you?  1 2 3 4 5 6     Because of  Your child NOT Because of  Your child A one time thing Will happen again in the future                                                                                                           Specific to this situation Happens in many situations Not at all intentional Completely intentional No blame  at all Complete blame Not at all responsible Completely responsible    98  30) A mother of one of your child’s classmates asks you if you are going to “Bring Mom to School Day” with your child. She tells you that it is going to be tomorrow, and that most of the mothers in your child’s class are going to go. Your child has not said anything to you about “Bring Mom to School Day”. Think of the one main reason why your child has not said anything to you about “Bring Mom to School Day”. 1) How much of this reason is because of your child or not because of your child?  1 2 3 4 5 6  2) Is this reason a one-time thing or something that is likely to happen again in the future?  1 2 3 4 5 6  3) Is this reason specific to this situation or something that happens in many situations?  1 2 3 4 5 6  4) To what extent did your child intend to not say anything about “Bring Mom to School Day?”  1 2 3 4 5 6  5) To what extent should your child be blamed for not saying anything about “Bring Mom to School Day?  1 2 3 4 5 6  6) To what extent would you hold your child responsible for not saying anything back to you?  1 2 3 4 5 6   Because of  Your child NOT Because of  Your child A one time thing Will happen again in the future                                                                                                           Specific to this situation Happens in many situations Not at all intentional Completely intentional No blame  at all Complete blame Not at all responsible Completely responsible    99  31) You have been planning a special day for just you and your child at the beach. But, on the morning of the beach trip, your child is very slow getting dressed and getting ready to go.  Think of the one main reason why your child is very slow getting dressed and ready.  1) How much of this reason is because of your child or not because of your child?  1 2 3 4 5 6  2) Is this reason a one-time thing or something that is likely to happen again in the future?  1 2 3 4 5 6  3) Is this reason specific to this situation or something that happens in many situations?  1 2 3 4 5 6  4) To what extent did your child intend to very slowly get dressed and ready?  1 2 3 4 5 6  5) To what extent should your child be blamed for very slowly getting dressed and ready?  1 2 3 4 5 6  6) To what extent would you hold your child responsible for very slowly getting dressed and ready?  1 2 3 4 5 6   Because of  Your child NOT Because of  Your child A one time thing Will happen again in the future                                                                                                           Specific to this situation Happens in many situations Not at all intentional Completely intentional No blame  at all Complete blame Not at all responsible Completely responsible    100  32) It is your child’s birthday. You had a small party for her in the afternoon that mainly adults attended.  She received a few gifts from you and your friends. Later in the day when you are having dinner, your child is very quiet.  Think of the one main reason why your child is very quiet.  1) How much of this reason is because of your child or not because of your child?  1 2 3 4 5 6  2) Is this reason a one-time thing or something that is likely to happen again in the future?  1 2 3 4 5 6  3) Is this reason specific to this situation or something that happens in many situations?  1 2 3 4 5 6  4) To what extent did your child intend to be very quiet?  1 2 3 4 5 6  5) To what extent should your child be blamed for being very quiet?  1 2 3 4 5 6  6) To what extent would you hold your child responsible for being very quiet?  1 2 3 4 5 6        Because of  Your child NOT Because of  Your child A one time thing Will happen again in the future                                                                                                           Specific to this situation Happens in many situations Not at all intentional Completely intentional No blame  at all Complete blame Not at all responsible Completely responsible    101  33) Your child wants to go outside and play but you make her stay indoors to do her homework. When you go into the kitchen later to check if your child has finished her homework, you see that one of your favorite mugs is lying broken on the floor.   Think of the one main reason why the mug is broken.  1) How much of this reason is because of your child or not because of your child?  1 2 3 4 5 6  2) Is this reason a one-time thing or something that is likely to happen again in the future?  1 2 3 4 5 6  3) Is this reason specific to this situation or something that happens in many situations?  1 2 3 4 5 6  4) To what extent did your child intend for the mug to be broken?  1 2 3 4 5 6  5) To what extent should your child be blamed for the mug breaking?  1 2 3 4 5 6  6) To what extent would you hold your child responsible for the mug breaking?  1 2 3 4 5 6       Because of  Your child NOT Because of  Your child A one time thing Will happen again in the future                                                                                                           Specific to this situation Happens in many situations Not at all intentional Completely intentional No blame  at all Complete blame Not at all responsible Completely responsible    102  34) You and your child are playing a board game. You are almost to the finish line and your child is losing. Just before the next round of play, your child knocks the board game pieces of the board game onto the floor.  Think of the one main reason why your child knocks the pieces to the floor.  1) How much of this reason is because of your child or not because of your child?  1 2 3 4 5 6  2) Is this reason a one-time thing or something that is likely to happen again in the future?  1 2 3 4 5 6  3) Is this reason specific to this situation or something that happens in many situations?  1 2 3 4 5 6  4) To what extent did your child intend for the pieces to be knocked to the floor?  1 2 3 4 5 6  5) To what extent should your child be blamed for knocking the pieces to the floor?  1 2 3 4 5 6  6) To what extent would you hold your child responsible for knocking the pieces to the floor?  1 2 3 4 5 6      Because of  Your child NOT Because of  Your child A one time thing Will happen again in the future                                                                                                           Specific to this situation Happens in many situations Not at all intentional Completely intentional No blame  at all Complete blame Not at all responsible Completely responsible    103  35) Your child has an expensive new outfit to wear to a special event that is going to happen next week. You explain to your child how important it is to take care of the outfit so it will look nice. A few days later, you go into your child’s room to find the outfit in a crumpled heap on the floor in her closet.  Think of the one main reason why your child’s outfit is in a crumpled heap.  1) How much of this reason is because of your child or not because of your child?  1 2 3 4 5 6  2) Is this reason a one-time thing or something that is likely to happen again in the future?  1 2 3 4 5 6  3) Is this reason specific to this situation or something that happens in many situations?  1 2 3 4 5 6  4) To what extent did your child intend for the outfit to be in a crumpled heap?  1 2 3 4 5 6  5) To what extent should your child be blamed for the outfit being in a crumpled heap?  1 2 3 4 5 6  6) To what extent would you hold your child responsible for the outfit being in a crumpled heap?  1 2 3 4 5 6     Because of  Your child NOT Because of  Your child A one time thing Will happen again in the future                                                                                                           Specific to this situation Happens in many situations Not at all intentional Completely intentional No blame  at all Complete blame Not at all responsible Completely responsible    104  36) You are in the supermarket with your child. Your child picks up a chocolate bar and asks if she can have it. You tell her no, but as you leave the store you notice that your child still has the chocolate bar in her hand.  Think of the one main reason why your child still has the chocolate bar.  1) How much of this reason is because of your child or not because of your child?  1 2 3 4 5 6  2) Is this reason a one-time thing or something that is likely to happen again in the future?  1 2 3 4 5 6  3) Is this reason specific to this situation or something that happens in many situations?  1 2 3 4 5 6  4) To what extent did your child intend to still have the chocolate bar?  1 2 3 4 5 6  5) To what extent should your child be blamed for still having the chocolate bar?  1 2 3 4 5 6  6) To what extent would you hold your child responsible for still having the chocolate bar?  1 2 3 4 5 6      Because of  Your child NOT Because of  Your child A one time thing Will happen again in the future                                                                                                           Specific to this situation Happens in many situations Not at all intentional Completely intentional No blame  at all Complete blame Not at all responsible Completely responsible    105  Appendix C  Alabama Parenting Questionnaire The following are a number of statements about your family.  Please read each one carefully and decide how often it occurred in your home in the past 4 weeks.  Circle the number that represents your choice.  Please do not mark between choices and be sure to answer every item.  It is very important that you refer only to the past 4 weeks. Please imagine your child, ________________, when completing these questions.  Typically, this questionnaire takes 5 minutes to complete.    Never Almost never Some times Often Always 1. You have a friendly talk with your child 0 1 2 3 4        2. You let your child know when he/she is doing a good job 0 1 2 3 4        3. You threaten to punish your child and then do not actually punish him/her 0 1 2 3 4        4. You volunteer to help with special  activities your child is involved in (such as sports, boy/girl scouts, church youth groups) 0 1 2 3 4        5. You reward or give something to your  child for obeying you or behaving well 0 1 2 3 4        6. Your child fails to leave a note or let you know where he/she is going 0 1 2 3 4        7. You play games or do other fun things with  your child 0 1 2 3 4        8. Your child talks you out of being punished after he/she has done something wrong 0 1 2 3 4        9. You ask your child about his/her day in school 0 1 2 3 4        10. Your child stays out in the evening past the time he/she is supposed to be home 0 1 2 3 4  11.  You help your child with his/her homework  0  1  2  3  4           106  12. You feel that getting your child to obey is more trouble than it’s worth 0 1 2 3 4        13. You compliment your child when he/she  does something well 0 1 2 3 4        14. You ask your child what his/her plans  are for the coming day 0 1 2 3 4        15. You drive your child to a special activity 0 1 2 3 4        16. You praise your child for behaving well 0 1 2 3 4        17. Your child is out with friends you do not know 0 1 2 3 4        18. You hug or kiss your child when he/she has  done something well 0 1 2 3 4        19. Your child goes out without a set time to be home 0 1 2 3 4        20. You talk to your child about his/her friends 0 1 2 3 4        21. Your child is out after dark without an adult with him/her 0 1 2 3 4        22. You let your child out of a punishment early (like lift restrictions earlier than you originally said) 0 1 2 3 4        23. Your child helps plan family activities 0 1 2 3 4        24. You get so busy you forget where your child is and what he/she is doing 0 1 2 3 4        25. Your child is not punished when  he/she has done something wrong 0 1 2 3 4        26. You attend PTA meetings, parent/teacher  conferences, or other meetings at your child’s school 0 1 2 3 4    107         27. You tell your child that you like it   when he/she helps out around the house 0 1 2 3 4        28. You don’t check that your child comes home at the time he/she was supposed to 0 1 2 3 4         29. Your don’t tell your child where you are going 0 1 2 3 4        30. Your child comes home from school more than an hour past the time he/she was supposed to 0 1 2 3 4        31. The punishment you give your child depends on your mood 0 1 2 3 4        32. Your child is at home without adult supervision 0 1 2 3 4        34. You ignore your child when he/she is misbehaving 0 1 2 3 4        35. You take away privileges or money  from your child as a punishment 0 1 2 3 4        36. You send your child to his/her room as a punishment 0 1 2 3 4        37. You yell or scream at your child when  he/she has done something wrong 0 1 2 3 4        38. You calmly explain to your child why his/her  behaviour was wrong when he/she misbehaves 0 1 2 3 4        39. You use time out (make him/her sit or stand in a corner) as a punishment 0 1 2 3 4        40. Your give your child extra chores as a punishment 0 1 2 3 4  

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