Comparison between abusive mothers' and control mothers' parent and child behaviors and life stress events

Kathleen S Bentley, Marquette University

Abstract

Research involving abusive mothers and their corresponding child's characteristics have involved mostly attitudinal instruments. Few studies have examined the parenting behaviors and the young child's behaviors of abusive mothers. The purpose of this study was to determine if Life Stress Events, Child Problem Behaviors, and the three subscales of the Parenting Inventory-Nurturing, Expectations and Discipline can discriminate between Abusive and Control mothers. In addition, differences between sex of the child was explored on each of these variables. A total of 92 mothers, representing the entire socioeconomic (SES) range, comprised the sample. Mothers were within the age range of 18-45 and had at least one child between the ages of one to four years, 11 months. Two groups of parents were included in this study: an abusive group and a control group. The abusive group consisted of mothers who were seeking supportive services through Parents Anonymous or a parenting stress center. The control group were matched to the abusive sample on race, age and sex of the reference child, family socioeconomic status, and single -or- two parent families. Significant differences were found between abusive and control mothers' scores on their child's problem behaviors and life stress events. Abusive mothers endorsed more child problem behaviors and more life stress events than control mothers. No significant differences were found between abusive and control mothers' scores on Nurturing, Discipline, and Expectations. Significant differences were found between sex of child and mothers' Nurturing and Discipline behaviors. No significant differences were found between sex of child and mothers' scores on the Expectations scale, Life Stress Events and Child Problem Behaviors scale. Furthermore, there was no interaction effect demonstrated between abuse and sex of child. A discriminant analysis indicated that mothers' Child Problem Behaviors, Life Stress Events, Discipline and Nurturing scores best differentiated between abusive and control mothers, in that order. A classification rate of 69% was computed for correctly predicting groups. Furthermore, secondary analysis indicated a much stronger discriminant function using critical items from the Parenting Inventory; classification rate of 85%. Further research using a larger sample and controlling for age of child within groups may increase the predictability power of the variables.

Recommended Citation

Bentley, Kathleen S, "Comparison between abusive mothers' and control mothers' parent and child behaviors and life stress events" (1993). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9325669.
https://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI9325669

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