Validation of the Parenting Inventory
The validity of parenting instruments has not clearly been established because very few studies have compared actual parenting behaviors with parents' responses on these questionnaires. The goal of this study was to determine the validity of a parenting questionnaire--the Parenting Inventory. This was accomplished by comparing mothers' scores on the Nurturing, Discipline, and Expectations subscales of the Parenting Inventory with their observed nurturing behaviors, discipline behaviors, and expectations. The sample consisted of 42 mothers and children from intact families that were representative of a middle- to upper-middle-class socioeconomic level. Mothers ranged in age from 26 to 44 years and children from two to four years. Each mother and child was videotaped for 45 minutes in a playroom setting with age appropriate toys and books. No significant correlations were found between mothers' Nurturing score on the Parenting Inventory and observed nurturing behaviors. These findings may be explained by the differing definitions of nurturing used on the inventory and on the coding manual used for observation. Mothers' reaction to being observed and the use of a structured setting may also account for the low correlation. Significant correlations were found between mothers' Discipline score on the Parenting Inventory and observed discipline behavior. However, the frequency of the observed discipline behaviors was very low and reliability was poor. Therefore, caution is required in making any conclusions regarding these significant correlations and the validity of the Discipline subscale. Mothers who scored high and low on the Expectations subscale of the inventory exhibited no difference in their expectations from observation. A significant relationship was found between mothers' Expectations score on the Parenting Inventory and a second instrument developed for this study which also measured developmental expectations (r (42) =.86, p $<$.01). No differences were found in the Parenting Inventory subscales when comparing two groups of mothers--those who scored high on a social desirability scale vs. those who scored low. Thus, mothers' scores on the inventory did not appear to be affected by a desire to respond in a socially approved manner. The findings indicate that further research which minimizes subjects' reactivity to observation is needed to determine the validity of the Parenting Inventory.
Cynthia Lee Peters,
"Validation of the Parenting Inventory"
(January 1, 1992).
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