Maternal and Paternal Attributions in the Prediction of Boys' Behavior Problems Across Time
Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology
Maternal and paternal attributions in the prediction of boys' behavior problems across time. Abstract Objective: Examine the extent to which mother and father attributions for child behavior problems predict child behavior problems over time, accounting for the other parent's attributions, initial child problems and the child's ADHD status. Method: Parents of 7 to 12 year old boys with (n = 26) and without (n =38) ADHD participated. Parents completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire
... (SDQ) as a measure of their son's behavior problems as well as the Written Analogue Questionnaire (WAQ), reporting their attributions for child behavior problems. Parents completed the SDQ a second time 7 months later. Results: Both mother and father attributions were associated with child behavior problems at Time 1 and again 7 months later. However, when ADHD status and the other parent's attributions for child behavior were controlled, only father attributions predicted child behavior problems, and continued to be uniquely predictive of child behavior problems at Time 2 even with initial child behavior problems controlled. Conclusion: Father attributions provide unique information above and beyond mother attributions when considering current and future child behavior problems. Parental attributions reflect their interpretations and causal explanations for child behaviors. Negative parental attributions are those in which parents see their child's problem behavior as intentional, pervasive and stable over time, and the child is held responsible for the outcomes of the behavior. Such attributions are associated with a range of child problems (Bugental & Johnston, 2000), and are predictive of these problems above and beyond the contributions of child characteristics (e.g., Johnston, Hommersen, & Seipp, 2009). Recent studies suggest that mother and father attributions may be differentially predictive of child problems (e.g., Werner, 2012) and in this study, we extend this previous research, and investigate whether both mother and father attributions are concurrently and longitudinally associated with child behavior problems. Parental Attributions and Child Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Previous studies have found that parents of children with ADHD offer different, often more negative, attributions for child misbehavior than parents of typically developing children (e.g., Johnston et al., 2009; Markel & Wiener, 2012). Indeed, the chronic nature of child ADHD and its association with pervasive impairments in a variety of domains, including parent-child interactions (Barkley, 2006), leads parents of children with ADHD to experience significant stress and parenting challenges (Deault, 2010), and is a likely influence on these attributions. In addition, ADHD is highly comorbid with psychopathologies including opposition/conduct problems (30-60%) and mood/anxiety symptoms (20-40%; Barkley, 2006) and parental attributions for these types of associated problems may play an important role in predicting their presence and/or development over time. Thus, our inclusion of children with and without ADHD allows not only for coverage of a range of parent attributions, but also for clarity in controlling PARENTAL ATTRIBUTIONS AND BOYS' BEHAVIOR ACROSS TIME 4 for ADHD when testing unique links between parental attributions and general child problems.