Dyadic Parenting and Children's Externalizing Symptoms

Date01 July 2009
Published date01 July 2009
AuthorKaren B. Meteyer,Maureen Perry‐Jenkins
A Publication of
the National Council on
Family Relations
KAREN B. METEYER Greater Binghamton Health Center
MAUREEN PERRY-JENKINS University of Massachusetts*
Dyadic Parenting and Children’s Externalizing
We explore dyadic parenting styles and their
association with f‌irst-grade children’s exter-
nalizing behavior symptoms in a sample of
85 working-class, dual-earner families. Clus-
ter analysis is used to create a typology of
parenting types, ref‌lecting the parental warmth,
overreactivity, and laxness of both mothers and
fathers in two-parent families. Three distinct
groups emerged: Supportive Parents, Mixed-
Support Parents, and Unsupportive Parents.
Results indicate that dyadic parenting styles
were related to teacher-reported externalizing
symptoms for boys but not for girls.
Numerous studies have established that par-
enting has important implications for many
aspects of child development (e.g., Baum-
rind, 1996; Kaufmann et al., 2000, Lamborn,
Mounts, & Steinberg, 1991). Much research has
focused on two major dimensions of parenting,
namely, (a) parental warmth and responsiveness
and (b) demandingness or control (Amato &
Fowler, 2002; Barber, Stolz, & Olsen, 2005).
These two dimensions of parenting generally tap
into the emotional climate and parental control
Greater Binghamton Health Center, Binghamton, New York
University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Mas-
sachusetts, USA.
Key Words: behavior problems in children, cluster analysis,
dual-earner, dyadic parenting, externalizing symptoms,
parenting styles.
of parent-child interactions and are the key
dimensions that comprise Baumrind’s parent-
ing typology of authoritative, authoritarian, and
permissive parenting styles (Baumrind, 1991).
Despite the large literature on parenting, little
research has examined the combined effects of
mothers’ and fathers’ parenting on children’s
development, although children reared in two-
parent families clearly experience the inf‌luence
of both parents (Martin, Ryan, & Brooks-Gunn,
2007). Moreover, f‌indings suggest that parents
contribute differently to children’s development
(Parke et al., 2005). For example, a mother may
employ more warmth as a compensatory mecha-
nism if her partner uses more harsh disciplinary
tactics. Martin et al. argued that, ‘‘it is incumbent
upon parenting scholars to devise ways of depict-
ing children’s parenting experiences in two-
parent families that ref‌lect the full complexity of
the family (p. 436).’’ It is also important to note
that parenting differs as a function of social class,
such that socioeconomic disadvantage is associ-
ated with less warm and more controlling parent-
ing (Conger, McCarty, Yang, Lahey, & Burgess,
1984). Thus, the purpose of the present study is
to examine how mothers’ and fathers’ parenting,
examined in combination, is related to behav-
ior problems in their f‌irst-grade children within a
unique sample of low-income, working families.
Parenting Types and Child Outcomes
One of the best known and most frequently
researched parenting typologies was developed
by Baumrind (1966, 1996) and is based on
Family Relations 58 (July 2009): 289– 302 289

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