Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Human Development and Family Studies

Committee Chair(s)

Aryn M. Dotterer


Aryn M. Dotterer


Lisa Boyce


Julia Yan


Mothers’ education level has been an important predictor of life outcomes across many different areas. Higher education in mothers has been associated with outcomes such as higher reading levels and decreased chances grade repetition for their child. Due to gaps in the research, this study emphasizes the importance of mothers’ beliefs about parenting, the practices they use, the amount of closeness they have with their child, and how they change when mothers return to school. This study used new mothers and their newborn children across time to understand whether mothers’ beliefs, practices, and values change when mothers return to school. It is predicted that when a mother returns to school following the birth of a child, mothers’ parenting beliefs, practices, and mother-child closeness will positively change because of increased resources, experiences, and new opportunities for mothers. The results indicate that there were changes, however, they were associated with race/ethnicity, poverty, and maternal education attainment rather than with maternal school status as predicted. Findings included a large difference in the number of mothers who were in school compared to those who were not which could have a large effect on the results and should be studied further in the future.