The Determinants and Consequences of Empathic Parenting: Testing an Expansion of Belsky's Model of Parenting Using SEM
Description: An understanding of factors that enhance empathic parenting behaviors is of considerable importance to the study of child development and to the development of parenting interventions to promote child adjustment. Moreover, gaining a better understanding of the factors that predict empathic parenting with older children is of interest since most research examining parental empathy focuses on infants. These were the goals of the current study. Guided by Belsky's 1984 process model of the determinants of parenting that impact child development, an expanded model of the determinants of parenting is proposed that includes various parent, child, and contextual factors of influence. Using data from a community sample, a partial least squares path analysis approach was employed to test the model's strength in predicting empathically attuned parenting with children ages 5 to 10 years and, ultimately, the child's psychoemotional functioning. Results support the expanded model; however, a reduced model was found to be superior and revealed unique relationships between the determinants of parenting. Specifically, a parent's psychoemotional functioning and childrearing beliefs and attitudes were found to be critical to the parent's ability to engage in empathic parenting behaviors. Other parent factors such as the parent's developmental history of abuse, maladaptive personality traits, and age, along with contextual factors and child characteristics, were found to influence parenting only indirectly through their impact on the parent's level of psychoemotional distress or childrearing beliefs and attitudes. Ultimately, the current findings support Belsky's claim that parent factors are the strongest predictors of empathic parenting. Implications of these findings are many. The results highlight the importance of assessing a parent's childrearing beliefs and attitudes and level of distress in conjunction with characteristics of the child when a family comes in for treatment. Moreover, the results identify many points of intervention to stopping the cycle of abuse.
Date: May 2010
Creator: Morse, Margaret K.
Partner: UNT Libraries