Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 28, Issue 7, pp 1878–1885 | Cite as

Positive Parenting Moderates the Effect of Socioeconomic Status on Executive Functioning: A Three-Generation Approach

  • Daniel B. LeeEmail author
  • Shervin Assari
  • Alison L. Miller
  • Hsing-Fang Hsieh
  • Justin E. Heinze
  • Marc A. Zimmerman
Original Paper



While low parental socioeconomic status (SES) has been associated with lower levels of child executive functioning (EF), few have examined the intergenerational effect of SES on child EF across three generations. We adopt a resilience framework to investigate positive parenting as a protective factor in the intergenerational effect of low SES on child EF.


In a sample of 50 parents (70% female) and their oldest child (56% female, Mage = 12.38) from the Flint Adolescent Study, we estimated the effect of grandparent SES on child EF (i.e., Animal Sorting, Inhibition, Inhibition Switching) and examined the protective role of positive parenting using a multivariate regression model.


Lower levels of grandparent SES was associated with lower levels of cognitive flexibility (i.e., Animal Sorting), but not inhibition (i.e., Inhibition, Inhibition Switching), at low levels of positive parenting.


These findings indicate the varied ways by which intergenerational SES may shape child EF. Further, positive parenting may offset the intergenerational influence of SES on child EF outcomes.


Intergenerational Socioeconomic status Executive functioning Parenting 


Author Contributions

DBL designed and executed the study, conducted the data analyses, and wrote the initial draft of the manuscript. SA, ALM, and HFH collaborated with the design of the study and writing of subsequent drafts of the manuscript. JH and MAZ collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript. All authors approved the manuscript as submitted.


This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) (5R01DA035811-05) for the fourth (H.F.H.) and last author (M.A.Z.).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the University of Michigan’s institutional review board 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 study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel B. Lee
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shervin Assari
    • 2
  • Alison L. Miller
    • 3
  • Hsing-Fang Hsieh
    • 3
  • Justin E. Heinze
    • 3
  • Marc A. Zimmerman
    • 3
  1. 1.Children’s Minnesota Research InstituteChildren’s MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Michigan Medical SchoolAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public HealthUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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