Material hardship and children’s behavior across early childhood : examining the differential associations of maternal versus paternal parenting behaviors as mediators of material hardship on children’s social and behavioral outcomes
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Previous research has established the adverse associations between material and economic hardship on mothers’ parenting behavior and, in turn, on children’s behavior, yet relatively few studies have examined the differential associations of material hardship with mothers’ and fathers’ parenting simultaneously. Using a sample from the Fragile Families and Well-Being Study (FFCW), the present study examined the differential associations of material hardship with maternal versus paternal stress and parenting behaviors and, ultimately, with children’s social and behavioral outcomes. The sample was limited to families who remained living together across the first five years of their child’s lives (N = 1326) to get a better understanding of the differential associations of material hardship between mothers and fathers among resident families. Using structural equation modeling (SEM), material hardship was found to be linked with mothers’ and fathers’ stress and parenting behavior in distinct ways. Direct and significant paths were also found between material hardship and child outcomes for both mothers and fathers. However, there was no evidence that parenting behaviors (i.e., engagement, spanking) partially mediated the associations between material hardship and child outcomes. These findings have implications for future studies examining the indirect associations between material hardship and children’s social, academic, and behavioral outcomes via maternal and paternal parenting stress and behaviors.
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