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The relationship of relative child care and parenting behaviors in fragile families

Relative child care is the most common type of child care, especially for low-income and racial/ethnic minority families. This type of child care may provide emotional support but also generate stress. This study examines whether the use of relative child care improves maternal parenting practices. Data from 3475 families in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study were used to examine how relative child care is related to parenting behaviors and how the patterns present among each racial/ethnic and immigrant family. Parenting stress was examined as a potential moderator. Findings suggest that there is a significant relationship between the use of relative child care and parenting behaviors, especially fewer harsh parenting (i.e., physical and psychological aggression) and positive parenting behaviors (i.e., non-violent discipline parenting). Relative child care had positive effects for Black and immigrant mothers, negative effects for White mothers, and mixed effects for Hispanic mothers. Parenting stress moderated the relationship, weakening the positive effects of relative care on harsh parenting, i.e., physically and psychologically aggressive behaviors. The results are expected to contribute to child welfare practice as well as child care research and provide implications for meeting the needs of minority and vulnerable families. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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