Trajectories of Intrusive Parenting During Infancy and Toddlerhood as Predictors of Rural, Low-Income African American Boys’ School-Related Outcomes

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Abstract

Stability and change in maternal intrusiveness during early childhood is rarely explored, particularly within African American families. The current study examined the prediction of maternal intrusiveness during the first 3 years of life among mothers of rural, low-income African American boys and its relation to school-related outcomes. Observations of mothers (N = 230) interacting with children at 6, 24, and 36 months were coded and analyzed. Predictors of the trajectories and child outcomes were assessed using questionnaires and various tasks. On average, mothers of African American boys increased in intrusiveness across the first 3 years of life. Cumulative sociodemographic risk was associated with initial levels of intrusiveness, and child fearfulness and maternal negative regard predicted increases in intrusiveness over time. After controlling for sociodemographic risk, child temperament, and parental negativity, increases in intrusiveness over the first 3 years of life were associated with lower levels of expressive communication, inhibitory control, and intellectual functioning but not with attention focusing. Comprehensive parenting intervention efforts aimed toward improving children’s outcomes must take into consideration the broader socioeconomic and affective context in which parenting behaviors occur as well as stability and change in parenting over time.

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