Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 615–628 | Cite as

Trajectories of Early Parenting Practices among Low-Income Ethnically Diverse Women

  • Anna K. Ettinger
  • Anne W. Riley
  • Elizabeth Colantuoni
  • Tamar Mendelson
Original Paper


Responsive and consistent parenting practices are essential to child social, emotional, and mental well-being, yet little is known about how parenting behaviors change over time among low income, urban families who may experience environmental instability and other stressors that make these practices more variable. This study examined maternal parenting trajectories and economic, social and health resources associated with these trajectories among low-income predominantly Black and Hispanic mothers over time using three waves of data from the Welfare, Children, and Families: A Three-City Study (N = 1140). Growth trajectories of maternal parenting practices (including family routines, firm-responsive parenting, and corporal punishment) were modeled using linear random effects models. Stratified trajectory analyses were conducted to examine the differences in effects of maternal resources on parenting practices over time by child developmental status. On average, mothers’ parenting practices improved over time as the children aged. Trajectory analyses revealed that maternal resources were associated with baseline levels of parenting rather than changes in trajectories over time. Mothers with more social and health resources reported more positive parenting practices and lower levels of corporal punishment at each time point. Results suggest the value of intervening early to enhance maternal education, health, and mental health to improve parenting practices among low-income ethnically diverse mothers.


Parenting trajectories Family routines Maternal resources Low-income families Ethnically diverse families 


Author Contributions

A.E. designed and executed study; conducted analyses; drafted all sections of paper. A.R. provided guidance on the design of the study and implications of results; reviewed and edited drafts of the paper. E.C. collaborated on the statistical methods of the paper; reviewed and commented on drafts of the manuscript. T. M. provided guidance on the structure of the manuscript; collaborated in writing and editing initial and final drafts of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the original study. For this secondary analysis of publicly available data, formal consent is not required.

Supplementary material

10826_2017_895_MOESM1_ESM.docx (23 kb)
Supplementary Information


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna K. Ettinger
    • 1
  • Anne W. Riley
    • 1
  • Elizabeth Colantuoni
    • 2
  • Tamar Mendelson
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PopulationFamily & Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiostatisticsJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Department of Mental HealthJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA

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