Autonomous and Controlled Motivation for Parenting: Associations with Parent and Child Outcomes
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The present investigation examined motivation for parenting and some of its correlates in parents and children. The data came from samples of 151 first-time mothers of infants, 153 mothers of middle school children, and 260 mothers and fathers of high school children. Parents provided self-report data about their motivation in their parenting role as well as reports of role satisfaction, parental competence, child temperament, and parenting styles. Using three samples, factor analyses confirmed the distinction between autonomous and controlled forms of parenting motivation. Autonomous motivation refers to investing in the parenting role because it is interesting and meaningful whereas controlled motivation refers to investment based on external or internal pressures. Results showed that autonomous motivation was associated concurrently with parenting satisfaction and competence as well as with authoritative and autonomy-supportive parenting styles. Child temperament was unrelated to parenting motivation, but mothers reported greater autonomous motivation for girls than boys and for younger children rather than older children. Autonomous parenting motivation was associated with children reporting autonomy supportive parenting and high levels of well-being. A prospective analysis showed that controlled parenting motivation in first time mothers was associated with reductions in parenting satisfaction as infants became toddlers. A similar analysis showed that autonomous parenting motivation was associated with children developing fewer behavior problems whereas controlled motivation was associated with children developing more behavioral problems. The present findings highlight the heuristic value of assessing why parents invest themselves in the parenting role.
KeywordsMotivation for parenting Role satisfaction Parental competence Child temperament Parenting style
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