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Parenting Children with Intellectual Disabilities: Comparing Three Longitudinal Models of Socio-Economic Status

  • Author(s): Begum, Gazi
  • Advisor(s): Blacher, Jan
  • et al.

There has been a fourfold increase in the percentage of students with disabilities who do not primarily speak English at home. A majority of these children are raised in socio-economically adverse environments. However, most research on families and intellectual disability (ID) is conducted without regard to ethnic differences or socio-economic differences. Additionally, parenting practices can be affected by parents' psychological well-being. The purpose of this study was to examine the longitudinal parenting practices (both positive and negative) of mothers as well as to investigate the relationship between parenting practices and socio-economic variables (education and income), status variables (Anglo vs. Latino; typical development vs. intellectual disability) and maternal psychological variables (depressive symptoms and optimism). Longitudinal observations were conducted of parenting behavior across six time points. Participants were 219 mothers of children with and without intellectual disabilities. Results indicated that there was no change in mothers' negative parenting. However, mothers' positive parenting increased during early and middle childhood in children with and without intellectual disabilities. An analysis of three longitudinal models of socio-economic status suggested that mothers' education and family income had a direct and indirect impact on positive parenting. Mothers who reported more education had significantly higher levels of positive parenting when their children were three years old. However, mothers who reported more family income grew at a significantly faster rate in positive parenting over time. There also was preliminary support indicating that mothers with more income were more likely to be members of a class that started off and remained at a higher level of positive parenting over time. The results suggest that parents who are able to engage in positive parenting, in the face of educational and financial deprivation, can potentially protect their children from the deleterious effects of socio-economic adversity.

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