Parenting during early childhood in low-income families: Variation by child gender

Natasha J. Cabrera, Catherine S. Tamis-LeMonda, Robert H. Bradley, Jacqueline D. Shannon, Gregory R. Hancock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study used saturated path models to examine whether mothers' and fathers' depressive symptoms, the conflict they experience as a couple, and the home environmental chaos forecast the quality of parenting. We also examined how child gender moderated parenting. Using data from the National Early Head Start Research and Evaluation project (EHSRE) (n = 588), we found that mothers with high levels of depression reported spanking girls more often than boys whereas fathers who reported high couple conflict were observed to be less supportive of girls than of boys. But when the home environment was rated as highly chaotic, boys were spanked more often by fathers, and mothers were observed to be less supportive. Fathers were less intrusive and mothers were more supportive with boys but not with girls when fathers reported a high number of depressive symptoms. The findings have implications for programs aimed at improving parenting behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-214
Number of pages14
JournalFamily Science
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • chaos
  • conflict
  • gender
  • low income
  • parenting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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