Parents and child development

The latest material added to the Australian Institute of Family Studies library database is displayed, up to a maximum of 30 items. Where available online, a link to the document is provided. Many items can be borrowed from the Institute's library via the Interlibrary loan system.

See more resources on Parents and child development in the AIFS library catalogue

The health of parents and their children: a two-generation inquiry

Murphey D
Bethesda, MD : Child Trends, 2018.
This brief examines the relationship between the health of children and that of their parents, and between the availability of emotional support for parenting and children's health. It draws on self-report data by American parents in the 2016 National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH). The findings indicate that, after controlling for demographic and household characteristics, children's health is strongly associated with the health of their parents, suggesting that intervention approaches aimed at parents may also benefit children. The availability of emotional support for parenting has no significant association. Most children in the United States are in very good or excellent health, according to their parents, but health does vary by race/ethnicity, family income, and parents' education level.

Inter-parental relationship quality and its effects on children: a literature review to support analysis and policy

Dominick C
Wellington, N.Z. : Ministry of Social Development, 2018.
This report provides an overview of the evidence on how parents' own relationship quality influences children's wellbeing and development. It focuses on interactions between parents such as communication patterns, conflict behaviours, intimate partner violence, supportive behaviours, and the time spent interacting - not relationship satisfaction. The report reviews the literature on the effects on child outcomes, the pathways and mechanisms involved, important correlates that may act as confounders - such as alcohol use or mental illness - and the implications for analysis and for policy. Overall, there is strong evidence for the relationship between inter-parental relationship quality and child outcomes, in particular the negative impact of inter-parental conflict and violence on children's adjustment. There are gaps in the evidence, which longitudinal research has the potential to address.

Parenting in contexts of family violence and inter-parental conflict : implications for practice.

Humphreys C and Lyons K
22 Mar 2018
This webinar will explore the implications of recent research on women's and children's experiences of family violence and inter-parental conflict. The research found that both domestic and family violence (DFV) and inter-parental conflict (IPC) have a range of negative consequences for families and children, including increased parenting difficulties. It revealed that DFV and IPC are relatively common in Australian families, including separating families: one in 4 mothers reported past or emerging IPC, with 8-9% reporting persistent IPC; and one in 4 mothers in separated families reported physical harm before separation (compared to 1 in 6 fathers). In families where mothers experienced IPC, children were more likely to have poorer physical health, poorer socio-emotional adjustment and lower academic achievement. Similarly, DFV was closely associated with poorer parent-child relationships. This webinar will explore the impacts of DFV and IPC on parenting capacity and children's social and emotional wellbeing. It will discuss implications for practice, including the need to develop responses that restore parenting capacity and repair parent-child relationships.

Do fathers' home reading practices at age 2 predict child language and literacy at age 4?

Quach J, Sarkadi A, Napiza N, Wake M, Loughman A and Goldfeld S
Academic Pediatrics v. 18 no. 2 Mar 2018: 179-187
Research on the importance of parent-child reading has focused largely on mothers, with less known about the contributions of fathers' in two-parent families. This article aims to help address this gap, with longitudinal data from the Let's Read literacy promotion program for families in Melbourne, Victoria. It compares mothers' and fathers' home reading practices in toddlerhood with measures of language and literacy at 4 years of age, with special attention to outcomes in disadvantaged families. 405 families took part. The findings indicate that father involvement in reading at 2 years predicted better language at 4 years of age, though it did not influence emergent literacy or help protect against disadvantage.

Measurement of father-child rough-and-tumble play and its relations to child behavior.

StGeorge J and Freeman E
Infant Mental Health Journal v. 38 no. 6 Nov/Dec 2017: 709-725
Fathers in western countries often engage in physical or 'rough-and-tumble' play with their children, and this form of engagement has been linked to several positive child outcomes. This article investigates this further. It reviews the evidence on the impact of fathers' physical play on child behaviour, aggression, social competence, emotional skills, and self-regulation, including hyperactivity, anxiety, and risk taking. Overall, the findings suggest that fathers' physical play is positively associated with several child behavioural domains, in particular social competence.

Interparental relationships, conflict and the impacts of poverty: an overview

Stock L
London : Early Intervention Foundation, 2017.
This paper highlights the importance of addressing inter-parental conflict in families who are in or at risk of poverty. It summarises the findings and policy implications of three research studies by the Early Intervention Foundation: 'Inter-parental conflict and outcomes for children in the context of poverty and disadvantage', 'Exploring parental relationship support: a qualitative study', and 'Interparental relationship support services available in the UK: rapid review of the evidence'. Together, this body of research highlights how poverty and economic stress affect the quality of inter-parental relationships, which in turn impacts on child outcomes. Though there are interventions aimed at families in or at risk of poverty which are effective, the UK evidence needs to develop further.

Interparental conflict and outcomes for children in the contexts of poverty and economic pressure

Acquah D
London : Early Intervention Foundation, 2017.
A previous study explored the impact of parents' relationships - regardless of whether they are together or separated - on children's outcomes. This report extends that study by investigating inter-parental conflict in the context of poverty and economic pressure. It summarises the latest research on what is known about the links between poverty, economic pressure, family processes, and child and adolescent development, then examines the evidence on the effectiveness of interventions implemented in the United Kingdom and overseas aimed at improving inter-parental relationships and outcomes for children from families in or at risk of poverty. The findings highlight how poverty and economic stress affect the quality of inter-parental relationships, which in turn impact on child outcomes. The report concludes with some recommendations for research, policy, and practice.

Children, families and communities.

Grace R, Hodge K and McMahon C
South Melbourne, Vic. : Oxford University Press, 2017.
This textbook explores the interconnectedness of children, families and communities in Australia. Chapters include: child development in context; research about and with children, families, and communities; children with developmental disability; advanced development; cultural belonging and being at home in Australia; family as the primary context of children's development; challenging contexts for contemporary Australian families; interconnections between family, child care and education; children and technology in a smart device world; active outdoor play; relationships with peers; child protection and out-of-home care; Australian Aboriginal and Torres strait islander children and families; early education and child care policy in Australia; children in fragile contexts: an international perspective on early childhood in emergency and disaster situations; and effective policy to support children, families and communities.

Poverty and children's personal and social relationships: secondary analysis of Millennium Cohort Study data

Gibb J
London : National Children's Bureau, 2016.
This report explore associations between poverty and children's relationships, through analysis of data from the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) in Great Britain. In particular, it investigates what role, if any, does low income play in shaping the quality of children's relationships with parents, peers and siblings. The release of new data has provided the opportunity to test these associations in a larger sample than in previous studies, and compares children aged nine months, three, five, seven and eleven years with no, some, or persistent experiences of poverty. Overall, experience of family poverty appeared to play a limited independent role in predicting relationships at age 11. Though persistent poverty had significant and largely negative associations with a variety of relationship outcomes for children, analysis suggests that, for the most part, effects of poverty on relationships are mediated by a range of factors associated with poverty such as parental educational attainment, working hours, parental conflict, maternal mental health problems, parenting style, and child behavioural problems.

What works to enhance inter-parental relationships and improve outcomes for children

Harold G, Acquah D, Sellers R and Chowdry H
London : Dept. for Work and Pensions, 2016.
This report summarises the research evidence on the role of the couple relationship on children's development. It investigates the associations between the relationship between parents, positive versus negative parenting practices, and long-term outcomes for children, as well as interventions designed to improve the relationships between parents - overseas and in Great Britain. Sections include: Types of outcomes that children experience; Why does the inter-parental relationship matter?; Contextualising the role of inter-parental conflict relative to other family influences on children; Consideration of additional factors that may affect how inter-parental conflict influences children; The potential economic and fiscal benefits of improved inter-parental relationships; Types of interventions; Strengths and limitations of the review; Fifteen Interventions by level of evidence; and Implications for policy and practice. This report was commissioned to inform the British Government's 2015 Spending Review and 'Life Chances Strategy'.

Dynamics of parental work hours, job insecurity, and child wellbeing during middle childhood in Australian dual-income families

Lam J, O'Flaherty M and Baxter J
Indooroopilly, Qld : Life Course Centre, Institute for Social Science Research, University of Queensland, 2016.
Though parental employment provides important resources for children's wellbeing, it may also be associated with parental time availability, stress levels, and family relations. This paper looks at the relationship between parental employment characteristics and child well-being during middle childhood in dual-earner families, using data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC). It examines changes in the association between parental work hours, job insecurity and child wellbeing, within and across parent-child relationships, and consider gender differences and possible mediators, including measures of parenting style and work-family balance.

Entrapped mother, entrapped child : agonic mode, hierarchy and appeasement in intergenerational abuse and neglect.

Amos J, Segal L and Cantor C
Journal of Child and Family Studies v. 24 no. 5 May 2015: 1442-1450
Drawing on attachment theory and theories of behaviour, this article proposes an evolutionarily grounded model of psychological processes and behaviors in severely distressed relationships between abusive mothers and their children. The agonic mode of social relatedness and the mammalian defensive strategy of appeasement explain the complex and varied interactions seen between these mothers and their children. The implications for treatment are also discussed.

Parenting influences on executive function in early childhood : a review.

Fay-Stammbach T, Hawes D and Meredith P
Child Development Perspectives v. 8 no. 4 Dec 2014: 258264
Though extreme disturbances in caregiving - such as abuse - are associated with deficits in executive function in young children, less is known about the influences of more common parenting processes. This article provides a review of the available evidence. It investigates whether parenting quality is associated with early executive function, what risk or protective factors moderate associations between parenting and executive function, and the mechanisms involved. The research gaps are also discussed.

Household choices and child development

Del Boca D, Flinn C and Wiswall M
Europe : FamiliesAndSocieties project, 2014.
"The growth in labour market participation among women with young children has raised concerns about its implications for child cognitive development. We estimate a model of the cognitive development process of children nested within an otherwise standard model of household behaviour. The household makes labour supply decisions and provides time and money inputs into the child quality production process during the development period. Our empirical results indicate that both parents' time inputs are important for the cognitive development of their children, particularly when the child is young. Money expenditures are less productive in terms of producing child quality. Comparative statics exercises demonstrate that cash transfers to households with children have small impacts on child quality due to the relatively low impact of money investments on child outcomes and the fact that a significant fraction of the transfer is spent on other household consumption and the leisure of the parents."--Author abstract.

Fathers' leave and fathers' involvement : evidence from four OECD countries.

Huerta M, Adema W, Baxter J, Han W, Lausten M, Lee R and Waldfogel J
European Journal of Social Security v. 16 no. 4 2014: 308-346
Many countries are now encouraging fathers to spend more time caring for young children, such as through new paternity leave provisions. Using cross-national longitudinal data from four countries, this article investigates the association between fathers' leave taking and fathers' involvement when children are young. Data is taken from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), the Danish Longitudinal Survey of Children (DALSC), the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) from the United Kingdom, and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS) from the United States. This study adds to the evidence that suggests that parental leave for fathers is positively associated with subsequent paternal involvement.

Early maternal time investment and early child outcomes

Del Bono E
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2014.
"Using large longitudinal survey data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study, this paper estimates the effect of maternal time inputs on early child development. We find that maternal time is a quantitatively important determinant of skill formation and that its effect declines with child age. There is evidence of a long shadow of the effect of early maternal time inputs on later outcomes, especially in the case of cognitive skill development. In the case of non-cognitive development, this effect disappears when we account for skill persistence."--Author abstract.

Safe and supportive family environments.

Higgins D
CFCA short article 29 Jul 2014
This article summarises some of the key findings from a new research report, 'A safe and supportive family environment for children: Key components and links to child outcomes.' The report aimed to understand more about the prevalence of different types of family environments in society and to explore the influence of these environments on different child outcomes, and whether this supports a public health approach to child protection. The report identified three kinds of family environments, which influenced child health, social and emotional wellbeing, and cognitive development. Changes in the family environment also had an impact on child outcomes.

Baby bonds: parenting, attachment and a secure base for children

Moullin S, Waldfogel J and Washbrook E
London : Sutton Trust, 2014.
This report reviews the international research on parent-child attachment. It examines how attachment develops, the importance of attachment for child development and outcomes, and the risk factors for insecure attachment. It also investigates how policy can promote secure attachments and presents recommendations for family services.

Growing Up in Scotland: family and school influences on children's social and emotional well-being

Parkes A, Sweeting H and Wight D
Edinburgh : Scottish Government, 2014
"This report investigated family and school influences on seven year-old children's social and emotional well-being ... The study explored possible influences on children's behavioural and emotional difficulties, and on their subjective well-being. It used data collected from mothers and children from 3,279 families in the first birth cohort of the Growing up in Scotland Study, interviewed in 2012/13 when the child was seven years old. Mothers were asked about the child's behavioural and emotional problems, and children were asked about their life satisfaction ... Analyses explored the role of child, maternal and household characteristics, parenting behaviours, school experiences, friendships, leisure activities, and materialistic attitudes on both child mental health (high levels of behavioural and emotional problems) and low subjective well-being (low life satisfaction)."

Growing up in Ireland, National Longitudinal Study of Children: parenting and infant development

Nixon E, Swords L and Murray A
Dublin : Stationery Office, 2013.
"This report is concerned with infants' development at nine months of age and how their development is associated with parenting within families. The report also examines factors that are associated with parental sensitivity and stress in families. The analysis was based on data collected on 11,134 nine-month-old infants and their parents as part of Wave 1 from the Infant Cohort of Growing Up in Ireland. The following research questions were addressed: Do parental sensitivity and infant characteristics (gestational age, birth-weight and temperament) predict infant developmental outcomes?; Do infant characteristics (difficult temperament, gestational age, birth-weight), parental characteristics (depression, stress) and contextual characteristics (work status, family structure, income and support) predict parental sensitivity?; Does support/quality of the interparental relationship, parental depression, family type and difficult child temperament predict parental stress?"--Executive summary.

Decision-making within a child's timeframe: an overview of current research evidence for family justice professionals concerning child development and the impact of maltreatment

Brown R and Ward H
London : Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre, Institute of Education, 2013.
"This overview of research evidence has been commissioned in response to the Family Justice Review recommendation for consistent training and development for family justice professionals. It aims to bring together research evidence to facilitate understanding among professionals working in the family justice system in areas relating to: neuroscience: perspectives on children's cognitive, social and emotional development; the implications of maltreatment on childhood and adult wellbeing; evidence concerning the outcomes of interventions by the courts and children's social care; timeframes for intervening and why they don't match those for children. This evidence paper is intended to assist decision-making by family justice professionals and facilitate a greater understanding of individual children's needs and appropriate timeframes."

State-of-the-art report: child care arrangements : determinants and consequences

Brilli Y, Del Boca D and Monfardini C
Europe : FamiliesAndSocieties project, 2013.
This report reviews the evidence on the effects of external child care and household investments on child development. Part one provides a brief overview of child care availability and use in several OECD countries and summarises the findings from evaluation studies on the impacts of external child care, in particular for the subgroups of gender, migrants, children with disabilities, and socioeconomic status. Part two summarises findings on the effects of time and income investments within the household on child development. The majority of studies find that non-parental child care has positive effects on children's cognitive outcomes, both in the short and in the medium run. In terms of household time and income investments, research shows that while maternal time is crucial for child development, father and grandparent time may also be important.

Rough and tumble play quality : theoretical foundations for a new measure of father-child interaction.

Fletcher R, StGeorge J and Freeman E
Early Child Development and Care v. 183 no. 6 2013: 746-759
This article reviews the nature of energetic, 'rough and tumble' play between father and child and its role in child development. It also describes a theoretically informed measure of the quality of father-child rough and tumble play.

Gender and parenthood : biological and social scientific perspectives

Wilcox W and Kline K
New York : Columbia University Press, 2013.
"The essays in this collection deploy biological and social scientific perspectives to evaluate the transformative experience of parenthood for today's women and men. They map the similar and distinct roles mothers and fathers play in their children's lives and measure the effect of gendered parenting on child well-being, work and family arrangements, and the quality of couples' relationships. This book describes what happens to brains and bodies when women become mothers and men become fathers; whether the stakes are the same or different for each sex; why, across history and cultures, women are typically more involved in childcare than men; why some fathers are strongly present in their children's lives while others are not; and how the various commitments men and women make to parenting shape their approaches to paid work and romantic relationships. Considering recent changes in men's and women's familial duties, the growing number of single-parent families, and the impassioned tenor of same-sex marriage debates, this book adds sound scientific and theoretical insight to these issues, constituting a standout resource for those interested in the causes and consequences of contemporary gendered parenthood."

How fathers and father figures can shape child health and wellbeing

Wood L and Lambin E
Perth, W.A. : University of Western Australia, 2013.
This literature review summarises evidence on the influence of fathers and father figures on children. Topics include: child development, social skills and relationships, mental health and self-esteem, alcohol and drug use, school engagement and performance, bullying, adolescent sexual behaviour, delinquency, and obesity and physical activity. Fathers are of vast importance in their children's lives and have a significant impact on children's social, cognitive, emotional and physical well-being.

Same-sex parented families in Australia

Dempsey D
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2013.
This research paper reviews and synthesises Australian and international literature on same-sex parented families. It includes discussion of the different modes of conception or family formation, different family structures, and the small number of studies on bisexual and transgender parents. Particular attention is paid to research on the emotional, social and educational outcomes for children raised by lesbian and gay parents, and the methodological strengths and weaknesses of this body of work.

Fathers' leave, fathers' involvement and child development : are they related? : evidence from four countries

Huerta M, Adema W, Baxter J, Han W, Lausten M, Lee R and Waldfogel J
Paris, France : Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, OECD, 2013.
Previous research has shown that young children with involved fathers have better cognitive and behavioural outcomes than their peers. Research also shows that fathers who take time off work around childbirth are more likely to be involved in childcare related activities than fathers who do not do so. This paper examines whether taking leave around the time of birth is associated with father's involvement in childcare-related activities and whether their involvement translates into positive child outcomes. Using data from countries with different types of work-family policy - Australia, Canada, Denmark, the United Kingdom, and the United States - it compares children's behavioural and cognitive outcomes, the timing and intensity of maternal employment, child care arrangements, and family characteristics. Data is taken from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY) from Canada, the Danish Longitudinal Survey of Children (DALSC), the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) from the United Kingdom, and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS) from the United States.

The parenting gap

Reeves R and Howard K
Washington, D.C. : Center on Children & Families at Brookings, 2013
"According to [this] paper by Richard Reeves and Kimberly Howard, the parenting gap is a big factor in the opportunity gap. The chances of upward social mobility are lower for children with parents struggling to do a good job - in terms of creating a supportive and stimulating home environment. Children lucky enough to have strong parents are more likely to succeed at all the critical life stages, which means policies to help weaker parents do a better job can be investments in opportunity, and equality."

Growing up in Ireland, National Longitudinal Study of Children: how families matter for social and emotional outcomes of 9-year-old children

Nixon E
Dublin : Government Publications, 2012.
"This report is concerned with how families matter for the social and emotional outcomes of nine-year-olds in the Growing Up in Ireland study. The analysis considers how these outcomes relate to the characteristics of both the child and the child's family. Data were collected from teachers and mothers on children's social, emotional and behavioural problems using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Data on child characteristics, the quality of the parent-child relationship, parental depression, and marital satisfaction were gathered from mothers and fathers, while children reported on mothers' and fathers' parenting styles. Data on family structure and income levels were also included in the analysis."--Executive summary.

How parents' income, time and job quality affect children's health and development.

Nicholson J, Strazdins L, Brown J and Bittman M
Australian Journal of Social Issues v. 47 no. 4 2012: 505-525
The advent of the Global Financial Crisis reminds us that modern epidemiological research has consistently demonstrated links between the socio-economic circumstances of families and children's health and development. Drawing on data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, this article firstly examines the evidence for intergenerational transmission of socio-economic disadvantage from parents to young children. It then examines parents' jobs as another source of social inequality. Results confirm that children's healthy development is affected by family income, by parents' hours of work and by the quality of parents' jobs. Job combinations that include long work hours of mothers and fathers and poorer quality jobs are associated with elevated rates of parental mental health problems, less time spent in developmentally important activities with children, and socio-emotional developmental difficulties for children. The evidence suggests that these effects are greater within low income families. These findings highlight the need for social and economic policies to move beyond simplistic notions of promoting parental workforce participation as a way of reducing the adverse effects of social disadvantage. A more nuanced approach is required that considers the additional impacts of the quality and characteristics of jobs, especially for the parents of young children.
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