All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Christina M Rodriguez

Advisory Committee Members

Edwin Cook

Kristi C Guest

Sylie Mrug

Michael Taylor

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) College of Arts and Sciences


Parenting is exceptionally influential during the first few years of children’s lives as this stage represents a sensitive developmental period. Quality of parenting is particularly important and the current empirical focus on prediction of at-risk parenting does not capture the full picture of what contributes to children’s and families’ well-being. Greater understanding of maternal and paternal positive parenting and its contributors—including a focus on potential protective factors to serve as resources—is essential to move family science more reliably toward a model of prevention of adverse outcomes rather than solely intervention. Furthermore, the field continues to be dominated by self-report methods although family science could be enriched by considering different methodological approaches. The current project utilized a longitudinal dataset that tracks parents using multimethod approaches beginning prenatally through when children were 4 years old. This project’s first study describes the psychometric properties and initial validation of a new set of analog measures of parent-specific empathy and identifies associations between parental empathy and facets of positive parenting. Informed by the model of socio-contextual determinants of parenting, the second study examines the ability of parents’ multiple resources to longitudinally predict parenting outcomes while controlling for at-risk parenting, demonstrating differences between resources predictive of mothers’ and fathers’ parenting. Namely, mothers’ empathy and fathers’ personal resources were predictive of subsequent positive iii parenting, respectively. The third study considers a multimethod approach to measurement of parenting outcomes. Few relationships were evident between direct observations of structured parent-child interactions and self-reported parenting; however, greater empathy emerged as consistently associated and predictive of maternal and paternal later parenting. Overall, findings support previous research asserting the distinct nature of positive and at-risk parenting as well as the unique development of fathering as separate from mothering. Finally, empathy emerged as a robust contributor to parenting, particularly for mothers. Implications for family prevention initiatives and future research directions for the study of positive parenting, as well as mothering versus fathering, are discussed.



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