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Parenting and Children's Socioemotional and Academic Development among White, Latino, Asian, and Black families



Parenting and Children's Socioemotional and Academic Development among White, Latino, Asian, and Black families


Hannah S. Kang

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology and Social Behavior

University of California, Irvine 2014

Professor Chuansheng Chen, Chair

A large body of research has demonstrated the crucial role of parenting in children's socioemotional and academic development (Maccoby & Martin, 1983). This literature, however, has major limitations in the following three aspects: sample representativeness, consideration of cultural differences, and bidirectional effects of parenting and child behaviors. Using a nationally representative sample (N = 20,203) from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999 (ECLS-K), the current study explored associations between three aspects parenting (i.e., parental warmth, parental expectations, and corporal punishment) and child outcomes among White, Asian, Latino, and Black families. The study also examined bidirectional relationships between parenting dimensions and child outcomes across Kindergarten, 1st, 3rd, and 5th grades. The sample consisted of 58% White (N = 11,788), 16% Black (N = 3,224), 19% Latino (N = 3,826), and 7% Asian (N = 1,365) children. The mean age of the participants when they were in Kindergarten was 5.44 years, and gender was approximately evenly split (female = 49%, male = 51%). Cross-lagged analyses were conducted to examine bidirectional (longitudinal) associations between parenting dimensions and child academic and socioemotional outcomes. Multiple group comparisons were used to test hypotheses about ethnic and developmental differences in those associations.

Results indicated that, for the total sample, positive parenting (parent warmth, positive parent evaluation, and not using corporal punishment) was associated with higher academic achievement and better socioemotional development both cross-sectionally and longitudinally.

There were significant ethnic differences in child outcomes and parenting measures. Asians and Whites showed better academic outcomes than Latinos, who in turn showed better academic outcomes than did Blacks. Asians also showed better socioemotional outcomes (i.e., fewer internalizing and externalizing problems) than Whites and Latinos, who in turn showed better socioemotional outcomes than did Blacks. In terms of parenting, White parents showed the highest level of warmth, Asian parents the highest level of expectations/evaluations, and Blacks the most frequent corporal punishment.

In terms of the associations between parenting and child outcomes, parental warmth was more important for the socioemotional outcomes of White and Black children than it was case for Asian and Latino children. Parental evaluation was generally more important for White students' outcomes than for those of Blacks, Latinos, and Asians. One possible explanation for this result lies in cultural differences in parent-child communication patterns. For example, White parents have been found to be more likely than minority parents such as Asian Americans to communicate their expectations directly and verbally. Finally, corporal punishment was associated with negative outcomes to a greater extent for White students than for others. In fact, with one exception, the association between spanking and negative academic child outcomes was nonsignificant for Asians, suggesting that spanking may be culturally accepted among Asians by both the parents and the child.

Taken together, the findings indicated that it is important to consider the role of culture in parenting and children's academic and socioemotional development.

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