Abstract: Paternal psychosocial correlates of corporal punishment directed toward their 3-year old child (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

12681 Paternal psychosocial correlates of corporal punishment directed toward their 3-year old child

Saturday, January 16, 2010: 10:30 AM
Garden Room B (Hyatt Regency)
* noted as presenting author
Brian Perron, PhD , University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Assistant Professor, Ann Arbor, MI
Shawna J. Lee, PhD , Wayne State University, Assistant Professor, Detroit, MI
Catherine A. Taylor, PhD , Tulane University, Assistant Professor of Community Health Sciences, New Orleans, LA
Neil B. Guterman, PhD , University of Chicago, Professor, Chicago, IL
Background & Purpose: Use of CP toward children is believed to peak when children are approximately 3-years of age. This study assesses the prevalence of CP directed toward 3-year old children among married or cohabiting biological fathers. Second, this study examines psychosocial mechanisms associated with paternal CP, including parenting stress, major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and alcohol/ drug use. We control for paternal involvement with the child, an important factor to consider given that greater involvement is likely to provide more situations in which fathers discipline their child.

Method: Data are from a race/ ethnically and socioeconomically diverse group of urban fathers who participated in the FFCWS during Wave 3, when target children were 3-years old. Self-report data were collected from 2,533 biological fathers, who were married or cohabiting with the child's mother. We examine associations between psychosocial characteristics and an ordinal CP variable measuring: no CP in the past month, moderate-CP (once or twice in the past month) or heavy-CP (a few times a week or more in the past month) toward 3-year olds. Analyses control for fathers' demographic and socioeconomic characteristics and characteristics of the child (e.g., child sex and internalizing and externalizing behavior problems).

Results: In the past month, 62% of the fathers reported no CP, 31% reported moderate-CP, and 6% reported heavy-CP. The findings do not indicate strong race/ ethnic differences in use of CP. Rather, significant demographic factors were young paternal age and marital status. In multivariate models, paternal parenting stress was significantly associated with moderate (AOR = 1.30, CI = 1.12-1.51) and heavy (AOR = 1.77, CI = 1.35-2.31) CP. The alcohol/ drug use measure was associated with both moderate-CP (AOR = 1.47, CI = 1.20-1.80) and heavy-CP (AOR = 1.73, CI = 1.20-2.50). Higher levels of father involvement were not significantly associated with CP in the fully controlled regression models, nor were generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder. Girls were much less likely to be the recipient of paternal CP than boys. Child externalizing behavior was also associated with higher levels of CP. A manuscript reporting these results is currently under peer-review for publication.

Conclusions & Implications: This study addresses the nature of paternal CP, and documents that parenting stress and alcohol/ drug use influence fathers' parenting practices. Fruitful avenues for intervention may be to target these modifiable aspects of fathers' behavior. These findings are especially important given research from substance use treatment programs revealing a high rate of unmet family-related services needs and the need for greater inclusion of fathers in parenting services. Higher levels of father involvement and race/ ethnicity were not significantly associated with CP, suggesting that with a comprehensive set of control variables these variables may not be as influential in predicting fathers' parenting behaviors as previously thought. Future studies should examine the role of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder as mediators in the relationship between parenting stress and greater use of CP.