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Hostile causal attributions and harsh parenting: parent age as a moderating factor




Fitzgerald, Morning, author
MacPhee, David, advisor
Coatsworth, J. Douglas, committee member
Shillington, Audrey, committee member

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Adolescent mothers tend to be more at risk for harsh parenting than older mothers. Parent processes such as stress, hostile causal attributions, and anger are also linked to harsh parenting. In this study, adolescent mothers, former adolescent mothers, and older mothers (N=589) were compared and the links between hostile causal attributions and stress and harsh parenting were examined. Age of the mother was looked at as a moderator in these relations. Mediational pathways between stress, anger, and harsh parenting and hostile causal attributions, anger, and harsh parenting were also examined. Results indicate that adolescent mothers are more alike than different from older mothers. In all groups, stress and hostile causal attributions were predictive of harsh parenting, and correlational analyses indicated that anger mediated these pathways. However, when baseline preference for harsh punishment was taken into account, anger no longer mediated any of the pathways. This indicates that baseline preference for harsh punishment may be the most significant predictor of late punishment. The only pathway moderated by age was between parent-blaming attributions and harsh parenting in that older mothers were more likely to parent harshly in the presence of parent-blaming attributions than younger mothers. These findings have implications for prevention and intervention programs and may shift focus from age of the parent to the parenting processes of stress, hostile causal attributions, and anger management.


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