Differential parenting of children from diverse cultural backgrounds attending child care

Research Paper No. 39 – April 2007

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Measures

Parenting measures

The CCICC study assessed childrearing variables in three domains: (a) parenting goals, (b) discipline beliefs, and (c) developmental expectations. Previous research has shown considerable cultural variation in these aspects, as well as an association to child adjustment.

Parenting goals

Parent and carer questionnaires contain a series of 20 statements about childrearing concerned with self-directing ('thinks for him/her self'), conforming ('quiet and well behaved') and social behaviours ('is kind and considerate'). The scale is based on the Index of Parental Values, as modified by Schaefer and Edgerton (1985), and includes 11 of the original items. Respondents indicated how important it is that a child learns obedience, independence and social behaviours on a 5-point scale, where a score of 1 shows the characteristic is 'not at all important', and a score of 5 shows the characteristic is 'very important'.

Principal components analysis (PCA) with varimax rotation was performed, and one item, 'accepts family responsibility', was omitted due to cross loading. PCA was then performed on the remaining 19 items, which resulted in a three-factor solution: 'independent' (10 items: parent data, Cronbach's α = .88, n = 236; carer data, Cronbach's α = .90, n = 240), 'compliant' (6 items: parent data, Cronbach's α = .83, n = 236; carer data, Cronbach's α = .82, n = 241), and 'sociable' (3 items: parent data, Cronbach's α = .81, n = 236; carer data, Cronbach's α = .80, n = 253).

Discipline beliefs

Parent and carer questionnaires contained a series of nine statements derived from the Parenting Effectiveness Questionnaire (peq) (Critchley, 1996) about discipline practices developed for children aged 2 ½ to 4 years old. Rather than asking respondents to report how often they use various discipline practices, the measure used asks respondents to indicate how effective certain responses would be in teaching a child not to repeat a particular behaviour. It was assumed that such an approach would make respondents less defensive and more likely to honestly report their disciplinary practices (Webster-Stratton & Spitzer, 1991). Individual items were measured on a 5-point scale, where a score of 1 shows the behaviour is 'never effective' and a score of 5 indicates that the behaviour is 'almost always effective'.

Exploratory principal components analysis with varimax rotation confirmed the two-factor model on both parent and carer data: 'beliefs about effectiveness of power assertion' (5 items: parent data, Cronbach's α = .82, n = 237; carer data, Cronbach's α = .62, n = 246), and 'beliefs about effectiveness of inductive reasoning' (4 items: parent data, Cronbach's α = .58, n = 246; carer data, Cronbach's α = .52, n = 242).

Developmental expectations

Expectations of appropriate ages for children to reach particular developmental milestones were assessed using a 21-item scale developed for the study. Respondents were asked to indicate the age at which they expected children to show a number of behaviours. Items addressed five developmental areas: motor development, language development, independent behaviour, cognitive development, and obedience and self-regulation. There were seven response categories: 0-6 months, 7-12 months, 13-24 months, 25-36 months, 37-48 months, 49-60 months and 61+ months. In the analyses, item responses were treated as continuous data, where a score of 1 indicated 0-6 months or 'early' and a score of 7 indicated 61+ months or 'late'. One motor development item, 'sit alone for 10-15 minutes on the floor', was excluded from the analysis due to the presence of a number of outliers. Based on the data reduction procedures used by Rosenthal (1994) on a similar scale, planned analyses were conducted on the five developmental areas and Cronbach's a scores were obtained.

The 'motor development' factor contained three items related to crawling, standing and walking, and Cronbach's a scores were .76 for parent data and .78 for carer data. The 'language development' factor contained three items reflecting the ability to communicate using sounds, words and conversation, and Cronbach's a scores were .78 and .81 for parent and carer data, respectively. The third factor, 'independent behaviour', included four items about independent toileting, feeding and dressing, and Cronbach's a scores were .77 for parent data and .83 for carer data. The 'cognitive development' factor contained four items pertaining to counting, reading and grouping objects. Cronbach's a scores were .83 for parent data and .81 for carer data. Finally, 'obedience and self-regulation', contained six items assessing behaviours such as being quiet and well-behaved and controlling emotions. Cronbach's a scores for parent and carer data were .89 and .90, respectively. A high score on each of these factors indicated that respondents expected children to show these behaviours at a later stage.

Acculturation

The year mothers and fathers arrived in Australia was collected to assess the length of time parents had lived in Australia. The year of arrival was subtracted from the year the questionnaire was completed in order to obtain a continuous variable indicating number of years in Australia. Among the group of Vietnamese parents, mothers had been in Australia for an average of 10.7 years (SD = 7.1, range between 1 and 27 years) and fathers had been in Australia for an average of 15.1 years (SD = 6.8, range between 1 and 35 years). Among the Somali parents, mothers had been in Australia for an average of 5.9 years (SD = 2.3, range between 1 and 12 years) and fathers had been in Australia for an average of 6.8 years (SD = 3.6, range between 1 and 17 years). These variables were used as a proxy for acculturation, with the suggestion that, as length of time in the host culture increases, individuals become more acculturated to the mainstream culture (Segall et al., 1999).