Parental Monitoring Sources, Ethnicity, and Child Problem Behaviors

Savoy, Monica, Psychology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Wilson, Melvin, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia

Parental monitoring sources are specific ways in which parents can gain information about child friendship networks and activities. Parental stress, efficacy, and responsivity during early childhood can affect parental monitoring overtime (Patrick, Snyder, Schrepferman, & Snyder, 2005; Pettit, Keiley, Laird, Bates & Dodge, 2007; Shumow & Lomax, 2002). Parental monitoring has been negatively associated with a variety of antisocial behaviors during adolescence, but little research has explored the relationship between parental monitoring and problem behaviors during childhood (Cottrell et al., 2007; Dishion, Patterson, Stoolmiller, & Skinner, 1991; Hayes, Hudson & Matthews, 2003). To truly understand the impact of parental monitoring, scholars have suggested that research should now focus on how parents gain knowledge, and whether such parental monitoring sources each play a similar role in predicting child outcomes (Kerr, Stattin & Trost 1999; Stattin and Kerr, 2000). The present study examines the relationships among early parenting behaviors, sources of parental monitoring, and child aggression and rule-breaking behaviors. In addition, the moderating role of parent ethnicity is examined.
Participants are families who participated in the Early Steps Project, a multi-site, longitudinal, preventative intervention focusing on reducing the early emergence of aggressive and withdrawn behavior in young children. A total of 473 families made up of 312 (66.0%) White Americans and 161 (34.0%) African Americans are included. This study includes data that were collected when children were ages 3, 4, 5, and 7 years old. First, a multiple group Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) was used to determine the unique sources of monitoring in the sample. Second, Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) analyses were conducted to examine how parental stress, efficacy, and responsivity were related to the unique sources of monitoring. Third, the SEM analyses determined how the unique sources of monitoring were related to child aggression and rule-breaking behaviors. Finally, the SEM analyses identified relationships between any two variables in which the effect significantly differed in strength or direction, based on ethnicity.
Four sources of monitoring emerged: (a) disclosure/solicitation, (b) outside sources, (c) general knowledge, and (d) weekly communication. Some parenting behaviors in early childhood were positively associated with parental monitoring sources in middle childhood. Specifically, parental efficacy positively predicted general monitoring and weekly communication. Additionally, ethnicity was a moderator such that higher parental responsivity during early childhood was associated with higher disclosure/solicitation and general knowledge for African American parents, but for White American parents, there was no significant relationship. Parental monitoring sources were differentially associated with child behavioral outcomes. For White American parents only, outside sources positively predicted child aggression as well as rule-breaking behavior, and more disclosure/solicitation was associated with less aggression. For African American parents only, parental weekly communication negatively predicted aggression. However, those relationships did not differ in strength or direction for the ethnic groups. Ethnicity did serve as a moderator such that more disclosure/solicitation was associated with less rule-breaking in children for White American parents, but for African American parents the relationship was not significant. Implications for future research and intervention are discussed.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
aggression, rule-breaking, parental monitoring, ethnicity
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Issued Date: