Many studies examining CP are plagued by methodological problems. They often rely on clinical or CPS samples; they rarely examine the sequencing of the association between CP and children's outcomes; nor do they control for potential confounds such as characteristics of the child or other forms of coercive parenting, besides CP, that may also contribute to negative child outcomes. Furthermore, although fathers are over-represented as perpetrators of physical child maltreatment, particularly in its most severe forms, little is known about either the predictors or consequences of fathers' use of CP.
This symposium consists of four presentations that will contribute to our understanding of maternal and paternal CP, and harsh parenting practices more generally. All of the presentations use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), a longitudinal, community-based sample of diverse urban families. The FFCWS overcomes many of the design problems that complicate interpretation of other studies, and it also includes self-report data from mothers and fathers.
1) In order to isolate the specific influence of maternal CP on later child behavioral problems, Presentation #1 examines CP at 3-years as a predictor of child behavioral problems at 5-years, controlling for child behavior problems and other forms of harsh parenting (besides CP) at 3-years.
2) Presentation #2 assesses the prevalence of paternal CP in the FFCWS and fathers' psychosocial variables associated with use of paternal CP.
3) Similar to presentation #1, Presentation #3 examines fathers' use of CP at 3-years as a predictor of child behavior problems at 5-years, controlling for child behavior problems and other forms of harsh parenting at 3-years.
4) Latent class analysis is used to examine heterogeneity of mothers' and fathers' disciplinary styles, focusing on a range of positive and negative parenting behaviors, with analyses linking congruency of parenting styles at 3-years to child behavior problems at 5-years.
Because these papers share the same sample, we will start with an overview of the FFCWS sample design and characteristics. Each of the papers will follow, focusing mainly on the results and implications. Of particular interest are the implications of these set of findings for social work practice, specifically as they relate to parenting programs in the child welfare system, the public health implications of CP, and the need for services focusing on fathers. The symposium discussant will address the need for greater parenting education and formalized parenting programs that explicitly inform parents and caregivers about the consequences to children of CP.