Maternal and Paternal Parenting Behaviors and Socioeconomic Disparities in Child Well-Being

Alicia VanOrman, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Parental socioeconomic status strongly influences children’s cognitive and behavioral development, and hence has important implications for the intergenerational transmission of social (dis)advantage. Differences in parenting behaviors have been identified as a key pathway linking parental socioeconomic status to children’s academic achievement. Less well understood is the extent to which parenting behaviors contribute to socioeconomic gradients in children’s behavioral problems. Additionally, the specific contributions of fathers has not been incorporated. Given evidence that fathers influence child behavior, this is a significant oversight. Drawing on data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, I examine how maternal and paternal parenting behaviors mediate the relationship between maternal education and children’s well-being. Preliminary results reveal that the persistent SES gradient in child well-being is modestly attenuated by maternal parenting behaviors. Paternal parenting behaviors have a more limited role, however, father co-residence and father contact are important.

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 Presented in Session P4. Children and Youth/Population and Aging