Relationships between assessments of intrapersonal and interpersonal functioning and maternal teaching strategies in employed mothers

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Child and Family Studies


Jaipaul Roopnarine


parenting stress, maternal teaching

Subject Categories

Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Pre-Elementary, Early Childhood, Kindergarten Teacher Education


In view of the importance of parent-child interactions for the development of children's social and cognitive competence, empirical interest in identifying the determinants of parent teaching styles has burgeoned in recent years. The present study integrates the conceptual frameworks of Vygotsky (1978) and Bronfenbrenner (1979; 1983) to examine more fully the factors that contribute to mothers' ability to support children's learning. Fifty-one employed mothers each with a 26-month-old from intact families were asked to complete a measure of Job Satisfaction, the marital support and social support subscales from the Parenting Stress Index (PSI), the acceptance/rejection subscale of the Mother-Father-Peer Scale (MFP), a Self Esteem Questionnaire and the Parenting Daily Hassles (PDH) scale. In addition, audiotapes were made of mother-toddler interaction while working on two moderately difficult puzzles in their home. Based on Belsky's (1984) model on the determinants of parenting, factors relative to maternal interpersonal and intrapersonal functioning (i.e. acceptance in childhood, self-esteem, marital supports, social supports and job satisfaction) were examined in relationship to five maternal teaching strategies (i.e., control, attention focusing, distancing, competence attribution and praise).

Multiple regression results revealed that marital support and social support each accounted for 9% and 14% of the variance, respectively, in mothers' use of attention focusing as a teaching strategy and that job satisfaction accounted for a significant amount of the variance in mothers' use of distancing during the puzzle task. Further, t tests demonstrated that mothers with fewer parenting daily hassles used more distancing strategies with their toddlers and reported higher levels of self-esteem, satisfaction with social support, and acceptance in childhood than mothers who experienced a higher frequency of parenting hassles.

These findings provide support for bridging Vygotsky's (1978) theory regarding the social context of learning with Bronfenbrenner's (1979; 1983) conceptual framework regarding the composition of the broader social context in an examination of influences on parental teaching behavior. Finally, it is hoped that these data can contribute to early intervention efforts and public policies aimed at assisting families that face the stresses inherent in the dual earner lifestyle to raise instrumentally competent children.


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