Correlates of parental differential treatment: parental and contextual factors during middle childhood

Child Dev. Jan-Feb 2008;79(1):217-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.01121.x.


The current study examined whether parental and contextual risk factors contribute to mothers' and fathers' differential treatment (MDT/FDT) when accounting for sibling dyad characteristics. Also explored was whether family type (single mothers vs. 2 parents) moderated the links between the parental and contextual correlates and MDT. One hundred and seventy-two families with older (M= 7.4 years) and younger (M= 5.2 years) siblings were studied. Parents and children reported about the parent-child relationship, and parents reported about the children's characteristics, their own psychological resources, and contextual factors. Controlling for sibling dyad characteristics, FDT was predicted most consistently by household chaos. Furthermore, single mothers were not at risk per se for using more MDT but only when coupled with high maternal anger.

MeSH terms

  • Anger
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Family Relations
  • Father-Child Relations
  • Female
  • Hostility
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Personality Assessment
  • Personality Development*
  • Risk Factors
  • Siblings / psychology*
  • Single Parent / psychology
  • Social Environment
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Temperament