Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 177–188 | Cite as

Bidirectional Effects of Parenting Quality and Child Externalizing Behavior in Predominantly Single Parent, Under-Resourced African American Families

  • Amanda M. Pearl
  • Brian F. French
  • Jean E. Dumas
  • Angela D. Moreland
  • Ron Prinz
Original Paper


This study investigates the bidirectional perspective of parent–child effects by examining the extent to which parenting quality predicted child externalizing behavior and vice versa. Data was collected over four time points from primary caregivers and early school age children in low-income, primarily single parent homes (N = 249, mean age of children at Time 1 = 6.41 years). Parenting quality was operationalized as primary caregiver perceptions of positive parenting, effectiveness of parenting discipline, parenting efficacy and satisfaction. Child externalizing behavior data was captured via an assessment of the frequency of externalizing behavior as reported by caregivers. We hypothesized that parenting quality and child externalizing behavior would remain stable over time and that a bidirectional relationship would be present. Data was analyzed using structural equation modeling and results indicated that child externalizing behavior predicted subsequent parenting quality, and parenting quality predicted subsequent child externalizing. Specifically, our research team found that the influence of child externalizing behavior on parenting quality decreased with time, while the influence of parenting quality on child externalizing behavior increased with time. Overall results reveal the complex transactional influences of child externalizing behavior and parenting quality in our sample. Findings support the notion that parenting quality and child externalizing behavior are interactive processes which might best be handled by continual assessment and which may be potentially strong targets for interventions.


Parent quality Child externalizing behavior African American Longitudinal data Structural equation modeling 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amanda M. Pearl
    • 1
  • Brian F. French
    • 2
  • Jean E. Dumas
    • 3
  • Angela D. Moreland
    • 4
  • Ron Prinz
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryPenn State Milton S. Hershey Medical CenterHersheyUSA
  2. 2.Washington State UniversityPullmanUSA
  3. 3.Université de GenèveGenevaSwitzerland
  4. 4.Medical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA
  5. 5.University of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA

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