Patterns of Supportive Mothering with 1-, 2-, and 3-Year Olds by Ethnicity in Early Head Start

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Parenting: Science and Practice






Taylor and Francis

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Objective . To examine patterns of supportive parenting during the first three years of life in low-income families from three ethnic backgrounds and document associations between these patterns and measures of children's development. Design . Mothers' supportiveness was longitudinally assessed from videotaped parent–child play interactions at 1, 2, and 3 years of age in 1,095 low-income European American, African American, and Latin American mothers and their children who participated in Early Head Start. Links between mothering and 5-year-olds' outcomes were examined. Results . Cluster analysis performed separately for the three ethnic groups identified four patterns of supportiveness over time: High Stable, Low Stable, Increasing, and Decreasing. Similar proportions of mothers in each ethnic group displayed each pattern. Ethnic differences in mean levels of supportiveness within each pattern were found, and different correlates for each group emerged. Conclusions . The same four patterns were identified in all three ethnic groups, but the percentages and mean levels differed, such that fewer African Americans and Latin Americans would have been designated as high stable if analyses had been done for the total sample. The benefits of the high stable pattern for 5-year-olds would have been underestimated for these two groups as well, suggesting the advisability of examining mothering by ethnicity.