An Ecological Investigation of Contextual Factors and Cognitions that Impact Parental Responsivity for Low-Income Mothers of Preschool-Age Children
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Parental responsivity can profoundly influence developmental trajectories and child outcomes. This study aimed to learn more about the contextual risk and protective factors that influence parental self-efficacy (PSE), depression, parenting stress, and subsequent parental responsivity in low-income mothers of preschoolers. Two models predicting responsivity were tested using longitudinal data (N = 307) from the Early Steps Multisite Study. Predictors included: parent ethnic discrimination, SES discrimination, neighborhood danger, satisfaction with social support, overall life satisfaction, neighborhood connectedness, PSE, depression, and parenting stress related to daily hassles. Structural equation modeling was used to test for overall model fit, as well as direct and indirect relations between the variables over three time points. Model 1 controlled for maternal depression, while Model 2 incorporated maternal depression into the model as a predictor at Time 1. Two post hoc models that included depression at two time points were also tested. Models 1 and 2 adequately fit the data, while the post hoc models fit the data very well. Results indicated that discrimination and perceptions of danger in the neighborhood were related to lower satisfaction with social support, lower overall life satisfaction, and lower feelings of connectedness with the neighborhood. Adverse factors also predicted maternal responsivity at Time 3. Protective factors were predictive of high PSE and responsivity over time. Earlier experiences of depression were predictive of parenting stress and depression over time. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.