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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Clarifying the association between inter-parent childrearing disagreement and child problems : the role of parenting effectiveness and the content of disagreements Chen, Mandy Yao-Min


Parents who disagree frequently about childrearing issues have been shown consistently to have children with greater emotional and behavioral problems. Despite these significant relationships, little is known about the mechanism through which inter-parent childrearing disagreements are associated with negative child outcomes. The purpose of this dissertation was therefore to examine whether disagreements between parents on childrearing issues are associated with negative child outcomes after controlling for parenting effectiveness, and whether inter-parent disagreements about parenting behaviors and parenting goals are independently associated with child problems. A community sample of 160 couples with a first-born child (86 boys and 74 girls) between 2 and 5 years of age participated in the study. Mothers and fathers independently completed an Internet survey about their family’s characteristics, parenting behaviors and goals in response to child misbehaviors, general parenting practices, marital conflict, frequency of childrearing disagreements, and child’s functioning. Results showed that inter-parent childrearing disagreement continued to account for unique variance in child problems even after controlling for family income, parents’ general marital satisfaction and parenting effectiveness. Parents’ disagreement in parenting behaviors, but not parenting goals, was significantly associated with negative child behavior at the bivariate level (although not in regression models controlling for parenting effectiveness). These relationships were more consistent for child externalizing than internalizing problems. These findings suggest that in both research and clinical practice, it is important to not just attend to the parenting skills of individual parents in isolation, but also to assess how well parents are able to negotiate and resolve disagreements regarding childrearing issues.

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