The influence of negative beliefs about parenting on harsh couple interaction, harsh parenting, and child externalizing behavior: A longitudinal study from preconception to middle childhood

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2022-05
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White, Alison Claire
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Neppl, Tricia K.
Hughes-Belding, Kere
Gilligan, Megan
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Altmetrics
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Human Development and Family Studies
Abstract
The current study examined the associations among negative beliefs about parenting, harsh couple interaction, harsh parenting, and child externalizing behavior using a prospective longitudinal design. We assessed the influence of negative beliefs about parenting before becoming a parent on later family processes (e.g., harsh couple interaction and harsh parenting) in early childhood, and child outcomes (e.g., externalizing behavior) in middle childhood. Following the spillover hypothesis, we predicted that negative beliefs about parenting would lead to harsh couple interaction, and that this would spill over into the parent-child relationship leading to harsh parenting and child externalizing behavior. We also hypothesized that negative beliefs about parenting would remain stable from late adolescence to when children were in middle childhood. Results showed some support for our hypotheses. Negative beliefs about parenting before becoming a parent was directly related to harsh couple interaction in early childhood. In addition, negative beliefs about parenting was stable across time. Although harsh couple interaction was correlated with both harsh parenting and child externalizing behavior in middle childhood, these associations were no longer significant once all variables were included in the model. These findings have program and policy implications that suggest the power of parenting messages received in late adolescence on later family processes and child outcomes.
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