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Parental Distancing, Beliefs and Children's Representational Competence Within the Family Context NIH

Sigel, Irving E.; McGillicuddy-DeLisi, Ann V.; Johnson, James E.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
National Institutes of Health (NIH), Behavioral Science Research, Child Development, Cognitive Development, Family Dynamics, Interpersonal Relationship, Representational Competence


The first aim of this study was to investigate the influence of child spacing, family size, and parental income and educational level on the way parents perceive and conceptualize the world around them and children within the family. A second aim was to explore the relationship between parents' belief systems regarding children's cognitive development and the behaviors parents use when teaching their children. A third objective was to assess the influence of parents' teaching behaviors, including distancing strategies, on the children's representational competence. Participants in the study were 120 families that varied with respect to number, spacing, ordinal position and sex of children and parent education-income level. Discriminant function analyses and analyses of variance indicated that both parents and children from one-child families differed from those from three-child families and that child spacing and sex were often involved in interactions that produced significant differences between groups. Regression analyses indicated that parental beliefs and behaviors and parental distancing behaviors and child outcomes were related to one another above and beyond demographic characteristics. Results of path analyses generally supported the model of the family in which parental distancing behaviors affect children's representational competence and children's ability level, and in which parental education and age and number of children affect parental beliefs. (AUTHOR/MP). (331pp.)

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