Background: Despite the large number of parenting questionnaires, considerable disagreement exists about how to best assess parenting. Most of the instruments only assess limited aspects of parenting. To overcome this shortcoming, the "Comprehensive General Parenting Questionnaire" (CGPQ) was systematically developed. Such a measure is frequently requested in the area of childhood overweight.
Methods: First, an item bank of existing parenting measures was created assessing five key parenting constructs that have been identified across multiple theoretical approaches to parenting (Nurturance, Overprotection, Coercive control, Behavioral control, and Structure). Caregivers of 5- to 13-year-olds were asked to complete the online survey in the Netherlands (N = 821), Belgium (N = 435) and the United States (N = 241). In addition, a questionnaire regarding personality characteristics ("Big Five") of the caregiver was administered and parents were asked to report about their child's height and weight. Factor analyses and Item-Response Modeling (IRM) techniques were used to assess the underlying parenting constructs and for item reduction. Correlation analyses were performed to assess the relations between general parenting and personality of the caregivers, adjusting for socio-economic status (SES) indicators, to establish criterion validity. Multivariate linear regressions were performed to examine the associations of SES indicators and parenting with child BMI z-scores. Additionally, we assessed whether scores on the parenting constructs and child BMI z-scores differed depending on SES indicators.
Results: The reduced questionnaire (62 items) revealed acceptable fit of our parenting model and acceptable IRM item fit statistics. Caregiver personality was related as hypothesized with the GCPQ parenting constructs. While correcting for SES, overprotection was positively related to child BMI. The negative relationship between structure and BMI was borderline significant. Parents with a high level of education were less likely to use overly forms of controlling parenting (i.e., coercive control and overprotection) and more likely to have children with lower BMI. Based on several author review meetings and cognitive interviews the questionnaire was further modified to an 85-item questionnaire.
Conclusions: The GCPQ may facilitate research exploring how parenting influences children's weight-related behaviors. The contextual influence of general parenting is likely to be more profound than its direct relationship with weight status.