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The purpose of this study was to investigate the factorial structure of the Parental Behavior Questionnaire (PBS; Van Leeuwen & Vermulst, 2004) in a Latin sample and to inspect associatons between the GPBS and some parent (Socioeconomic Status, Mother Educational Level), child (gender) and context (type of school) variables. Informants were 586 Peruvian families (mostly mothers) that completed the 45 items scale regarding one target child attending 6th grade of primary education. Results revealed that the nine factors of the original questionnaire could not be confirmed. Instead four factors or scales remained, Positive Parenting, Rules, Discipline and Harsh Punishment, which demonstrated adequate internal consistency. MANOVA analysis showed main effects of socioeconomic status, mother educational level and type of school on the four parenting behavior scales, but no main effect of child gender.
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Studies about parenting started in earnest in 1920’s; however it is only in the last 25 years that research into parenting has exploded (Holden, 2010). Since then attention devoted to understanding parenting in all its dimensions continues to grow; the ever increasing amount and complexity of research placed parenting in one of the favorites and privileged topics for researchers. It is well known that the role played by parenting on child development shifted from direct effects towards parenting in the contexts of other factors. With this regard, there are studies that have proved or located parenting as moderating the link between perceived child vulnerability and child depressive symptoms (Mullins, Fuemmeler, Hoff, Chaney, Van Pelt & Ewing, 2004). Other researchers have studied parenting as a mediator (for instance, connecting temperament with problematic behavior (Collins, Maccoby, Steinberg, Hetherington, & Bornstein, 2000). Finally other moderator links between parenting and child outcome included ecological factors such as culture, ethnicity and neighborhood.
Social psychologists (Darling & Steinberg, 1993; Goodnow, 1988; LeVine, 1974; Schaeffer, 1996) have referred to the importance of parenting in the field of socialization that Maccoby describes as “the process whereby naive individuals are taught the skills, behavior patterns, values and motivations needed for competent functioning in the culture in which the child is growing up”(Maccoby, 2007, p.13). Other aspects of parenting include ensuring safety, stimulation and instructing, to mention some of them (Bradley, 2007) which are crucial in child development.
The conceptualization of parenting has varied depending on the emphasis that researchers want to focus on. In this regard, it is important to make a distinction between parenting styles, dimensions, and behaviors. Concerning parenting styles, the most prominent work was conducted by Diane Baumrind establishing the typology of authoritative, authoritarian and permissive parenting (Baumrind, 1971). Authoritative parenting is characterized by warm, open but at the same time firm limits; on the other hand, authoritarian parenting, focuses on discipline and setting limits with a tendency to resort to harsh punishment; and finally, permissive parents are more easy- going, warm and loving but fail to control any misbehavior of their children.
Regarding to parenting dimensions, the literature distinguishes two main types. On one side, Parental Responsiveness, refers to “the extent to which parents intentionally foster individuality, self-regulation, and self-assertion by being attuned, supportive, and acquiescent to children’s special needs and demands” (Baumrind, 1991, p. 62). On the other side, the concept of Parental Control has shifted from being defined as a single dimension construct (e.g. ranging from excessive to insufficient control) to focus on differentiating among diverse types of parenting control. The primary distinctions are between psychological control and behavioral control. As described by Steinberg (1990) and elaborated by Brian Barber and his colleagues (Barber 1996, 2002), psychological control refers to parents’ attempts to control children’s activities affecting negatively their psychological world. It includes parental intrusiveness, guilt induction, and love withdrawal. In contrast, behavioral control is related to the rules or restrictions that parents impose their children and the supervision and management of their activities.
Finally, parenting behavior is the most direct expression of parenting, that includes different kind of actions such as verbal communication (e.g. reasoning), corporal punishment (e.g. spanking), reward, or withdrawal of reward or privilege (e.g. time-out or taking away something that she/he, likes like television) (Socolar, 1997).
The first and one of the most important children’s world experience stems directly from interactions they have within their parents. This occurs long before they are old enough to enter formal or even informal social situations like school. In that context, Bornstein (1989) pointed out that their two caregiver figures are responsible for determining most, if not all, of their experiences. Parenting occurs in a broader social context in which community risks or resources, neighborhood quality, poverty, etc., may shape parenting beliefs and behaviors. In spite of this, little research has focused on the environmental and psychological determinants in parenting.
Due to the increasing amount and complexity of parenting research, there is a growing necessity for more, and efficient, tools for assessment, evaluation and diagnosis.
It is necessary to have instruments with adequate psychometric properties. Many professionals such as psychologists and other health specialists, use in their daily professional practices different kind of measurements as tools to assess, diagnose and later intervene in specific issues. It is not only a concern about the availability of such instruments, that is to be operative or in good conditions, but also about to what extent good measurements are obtained and whether they actually assess the construct they are meant to.
Likewise, there is a need for specific studies and assessments of parenting, mainly due to its impact on children educational performance (Grolnick & Slowiaczek, 2008). Different ways of researching parenting have been reported to, whether through interviews or observation, provide valuable information, although time consuming (Belendiuk, Clarke, Chronis & Raggi). Questionnaires, on the other hand, provide one with information in greater amounts and in far less time. All these tools, with its strengths and difficulties, enable professionals not only to diagnose in the clinical practice but also to built interventions programs with parents if it’s required. For instance, Matson (2008) had pointed out the importance of parenting training programs as a way of coping with children that present some behavior problems.
The Ghent Parental Behavior Scale is an instrument that focuses specifically on parental behavior. In light of understanding the importance of parenting, it is necessary to test the effectiveness of this tool, which has already proven its validity in a Flemish context. (Van Leeuwen & Vermulst, 2004). Thus, in this study we aim to verify and test its relevance in a Latino reality, specifically in Peruvian families.
There is a lack of abundant literature reporting the parenting practices of Latino families. The few studies that have been carried out show some inconsistent findings. Some studies have found that Latino parents are rather authoritarian and use harsh discipline with their children (Cardona & Nicholson 2000), while other studies claim that this parenting is characterized by warmth and closeness (Calzada, & Eyberg 2002). The study conducted by Cardona was a comparison of 76 Latino and Anglo-American mothers, with children aged 3 to 5, that filled out a parental behavior checklist. The results showed evidence of an authoritarian parenting style among Latino mothers, obtaining higher discipline scores ad lower nurturing scores. In contrast, Calzada (2002) conducted a study with 130 immigrant or first generation Dominican and Puerto Rican mothers with a child between 2 and 6 years old. They were requested to complete a questionnaire related to their parenting behavior, with the main purpose of gathering normative data on parenting practices. Results revealed that mothers had high levels of positive parenting practices and appeal less to punitive or harsh strategies.
In Peru, there has been some studies on harsh punishment. For instance, International Save the Children Alliance (2004) conducted a study in one of the most populated districts in Lima and reported that from the 870 females carers interviewed, among mothers, grandmothers, aunts and cousins, 80% of them belief that corporal punishment was unavoidable within the education of the child.
The Parental Behavior Questionnaire is based on Patterson’s Social Interaction Perspective which emerged from the combination of three theoretical perspectives: Attachment, interaction between family and peers, and context. These perspectives assume that observed parent-child interactions are pivotal determinants in socialization processes (Patterson, 1992).
Likewise, the questionnaire had the purpose of measuring five parental skills proposed by Patterson (1992): Parental Involvement, Monitoring, Discipline, Positive Reinforcement and Problem Solving. Factor analysis indicated that the factors did not completely match the five hypothesized constructs, due to (a) multidimensionality of the discipline construct, and (b) significant correlations between items referring to parental involvement and problem solving (Van Leeuwen, 1999). Taking this into consideration, Van Leeuwen and Vermulst (2004) explored the validity and reliability of a refined PBS in the Flemish context, proving its validity, and retaining nine factors or scales: Positive parenting, Monitoring, Teaching Rules, Discipline, Inconsistent Discipline, Harsh Punishment, Ignoring unwanted behavior, Rewarding and Autonomy. Autonomy was added based on previous research at the University of Nijmegen (Gerris, Van Boxtel, Vermulst, Janssens, Van Zutphen, & Felling,1992).
There are other studies that has documented the adequate psychometric properties of the GPBS. For example, Meunier and Roskam (2007) tested and validated the efficiency of the Parent Child Rearing Behavior Measure (EDEP), a French instrument derived from the GPBS, proving its usefulness.
The present study examines some psychometric properties of the Parental Behavior Scale, such as the factorial structure and the internal consistency of the subscales in a sample of parents in Lima. After testing the scale efficiency, we will analyze mean differences according to child gender and type of school, as well as parent variables, such as Socioeconomic Status (SES) and Mother Educational Level (MEL).
The study included 586 parents. The vast majority of informants were mothers (N = 517), 39 were fathers, 19 parents decided to complete the questionnaire together and 16 participants were other people in charge of raising the child, such as grandfathers or aunts. The mean age for fathers was 43.62 (SD = 7.47) ranging from 27 to 78 years. In the case of mothers, ranged in age from 26 to 68, with a mean age of 40.10 (SD = 6.35) years.
Educational Level and SES were obtained through the demographic information that together with the GPBS were requested to parents. The mean Educational Level for fathers was Secondary Complete and for mothers Superior Technical Complete, ranging from Non Education to Post-Grade. For research purposes the ten categories of Educational Level were reduced in only three: high, medium and low educational level. The SES variable was computed based mainly in income and following previous research studies of the Peruvian Institute of Statistics. The mean SES for both parents was low, ranging from low to high. The same situation as in the previous variable emerged, therefore, for practical purposes, the five categories of SES (low, medium-low, medium, medium-high and high) were reduce in only three (high, medium and low) having more homogeneous data across all groups.
As regards family composition, 361 parents were married, 136 lived together unmarried, and the rest were single, divorced or had passed away.
Parents reported about their parenting behavior towards one target child, which was attending 6th grade. The age of the 586 children ranged from 10.5 to 12.5 years old (M = 11.5; SD = .41). Slight difference were in type of school: 50.9% of the children were in public schools and the other 49.1% in the private sector. The majority was female (57.9 %) and 42.1% were male.
The Ghent Parental Behavior Questionnaire (GPBS; Van Leeuwen & Vermulst, 2004) assesses parental behavior. The questionnaire consists of 45 items, assigned to nine scales: Positive Parenting (making time for the child, showing interest; eleven items), Monitoring (supervision of the activities of the child; four items), Rules (teaching the child appropriate behavior; seven items), Discipline (punishment of the child when it misbehaves; six items), Inconsistent Discipline (punishment in an inconsistent way; three items), Harsh Punishment (corporal punishment and verbal blaming; four items), Ignoring (neglecting unwanted behavior; four items), Material Rewarding (rewarding good behavior of the child; three items), and Autonomy (stimulating autonomous behavior of the child; three items). Participants rate the frequency of each behavioral item on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from never to always. They focus on their parenting behavior towards one child. This study focuses specifically in children whose ages are between 10.5 and 12.5 years old and attend 6th grade of primary education. Nevertheless, the instrument is applicable to parents and children aged 8 to 15.
A mean score was calculated for the set of items belonging to a scale, so that for each subscale a score between 1 and 5 is obtained, with 1 referring to ‘never showing this parental behavior’ and with 5 indicating ‘always presenting this parental behavior’.
For the purpose of this study, the English version of the GPBS was translated into Spanish, followed by a back-translation from Spanish into English. Additionally, the opinion of three Spanish speaking researchers, fluent in English and aware of the reality of Peruvian families, was requested. They suggested to rephrase some items. The recommended changes were made before applying the questionnaire to the parents.
Data collection was performed as part of a larger study that explores the relationship between parenting and children with learning disabilities in Lima. Parents were assessed with the Ghent Parental Behavioral Questionnaire in the months from June to September 2009. In the beginning of the study, a written notification was sent to parents through the school, explaining the objectives of the study and inviting them to participate. Written consent was obtained of parents within private schools and verbal consent of parents in public schools.
Two different kinds of approach, depending on the type of school were used. In the case of private schools the questionnaire was submitted in a sealed envelope with all the necessary instructions. In the case of public schools, parents were invited to an informative talk on the topic of parenting as an introduction to the speech, they had to fill out the questionnaire which was explained and read by the responsible person.
Principal Axis Factoring with Oblimin rotation was performed since we analyzed shared variance amongst the items and assumed that factors are related. The main intention was to analyze the structure of the scale to reduce data in to a smaller set of summary variables. In addition, the internal consistency of the subscales was evaluated, as an indication of reliability, by calculation of Cronbach’s Alpha.
MANOVAs were carried out with the purpose of testing whether or not designated parent (Socioeconomic Status, Mother Educational Level), child (gender) and context (type of school) variables, appear to differ on a set of dependent variables; in this case the remained parenting behavior scales: Positive Parenting, Rules, Discipline and Harsh Punishment.
All analysis were carried out with the use of SPSS system Version 17.
Psychometric Properties of the Instrument
A Principal Axis Factor (PAF) with an Oblimin rotation on the 45 parental behavior items was conducted on data gathered from 586 participants. An examination of the Kaiser-Meyer Olkin measure of sampling adequacy suggested that the sample was factorable (KMO = .832) and additionally Barlett’s test of sphericity was significant (£2 (990) = 5916.88, p < .05).
In a first analysis, a nine factor solution was asked, based on previous research (Van Leeuwen & Vermulst, 2004). However, the nine factor structure could not be confirmed.
Based on Kaiser’s (1960) eigenvalues -greater than one- rule and Cattell’s (1966) scree test, a four factor solution seemed most appropriate. Likewise, we restarted factor analysis with these four factors. This solution accounted for 26.51 % of the variance for the four sub-scales. The first factor, identified as Positive Parenting, included eleven items, but one of the eleven originally hypothesized items did not discriminate between the factors due to low loadings (< |.30|), and was dropped from the analysis. The second factor included items describing the teaching of rules, with factors loading from .45 to .64. The third factor consisted of items describing discipline. Item DIS6 showed a non-substantial loading (|.05|), and should be excluded from the scale in further analyses, remaining five items. Finally Harsh Punishment included four items with factor loading between .53 and .75.
Additionally, there were some items loading substantially (<|.48|) on other factors than the intended factor. Table 1 contains the four factors with the items that will be retained in further analyses, their corresponding factor loadings and cross-loadings.
To evaluate the internal consistency of the subscales, Cronbach’s alphas were computed for the nine original GPBS scales. The scales Positive Parenting, Rules, Punishment and Harsh Punishment have acceptable reliabilities of mostly .70 or higher.
Primary Factor Loadings Cross-Loadings and Cronbach Î±’s for Positive Parenting, Rules, Discipline and Harsh Punishment Scale
Note. Items in Parenthesis were left out in the final sub-scale.
Positive Parenting Scale showed an acceptable internal consistency with an alpha value of .69. The alpha value increased by the removal of Item POS8 (“When my child and I have a disagreement we talk it over and we look together for a solution”) to .72. Rules showed an acceptable internal consistency with an alpha value of .74. Also Discipline showed an alpha value of .74, after removing Item DIS6 (“It happens that I don’t punish my child after he/she has done something that is not allowed”). Harsh Punishment presents a alpha value of .73. The scales Monitoring (Î± = .50), Autonomy (Î± = 48), Inconsistent Discipline (Î± = 49), Material Rewarding (Î± = 59), and Ignoring (Î± = .57) showed insufficient internal consistency.
In conclusion, from the PAF and the internal consistency analysis conducted, it can be concluded that four parenting constructs (Positive parenting, Rules, Discipline and Harsh Punishment) are psychometrically sound to study parenting in the Peruvian context. Items POS6, POS8 and DIS6 were removed from the subscales.
Associations with Parent Variables: Socioeconomic Status and Mothers Educational Level
A one-way MANOVA revealed a significant multivariate main effect for socioeconomic status SES, Wilks’ Î» = .957, F (8, 1156) = 3.2, p = .001, partial eta squared = .022. Power to detect the effect was .971. Given the significance of the overall test, the univariate main effects were examined. Significant univariate main effects for SES were obtained for Positive Parenting, F (2, 81 ) = 6.020, p = .003, partial eta square = .020, power = .883; Rules, F (2, 581) = 5.902, p = .003, partial eta square = .020, power = .876 and Harsh Punishment F (2, 581) = 6.897, p = .001, partial eta square = .023, power = .923.
Significant SES pairwise differences were obtained and indicated that Positive Parenting and Rules in high socioeconomic status differed significantly from medium and low SES, while Harsh Punishment in low socioeconomic status differed significantly from high and medium SES. Parents of High SES reported higher mean scores in Positive Parenting (M = 4.23, SD = .52) and Rules (M = 4.73, SD = .34) than parents of Low SES (M = 4.02, SD = .68) or Medium (M = 4.23, SD = .56). On the other side, parents of high SES obtained a lower mean score in Harsh Punishment (M = 1.74, SD = .66) than medium SES (M = 1.84, SD = .73) and low SES (M = 2.03, SD = .80 ). Table 2 summarizes the mean scores across the three categories.
Means and Standard Deviations for the Parenting Subscales by Socioeconomic Status
Socioeconomic Status (SES)
(n = 195)
(n = 225)
(n = 165)
A one-way MANOVA indicated a significant multivariate main effect for Mothers Educational Level (MEL), Wilks’ Î» = .925, F (8, 1150) = 5.69, p < .001, partial eta squared = .038. Power to detect the effect was 1. Given the significance of the overall test, the univariate main effects were examined. Significant univariate main effects for Mothers Education Level were obtained for Rules, F (2, 578) = 8.534, p < .001, partial eta square = .029, power = .966, and Harsh Punishment F (2, 578) = 16.507, p < .001, partial eta square = .054, power = 1.
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Significant MEL pairwise differences were obtained and indicated that Rules and Harsh Punishment in low mother educational level differed significantly from medium and high MEL. High MEL reported higher mean scores in Rules (M = 4.72, SD = .35) than parents of Low MEL (M = 4.55, SD = .52) or Medium (M = 4.67, SD = .38). On the other side, high MEL obtained a lower mean score in Harsh Punishment (M = 1.69, SD = .59) than medium MEL (M = 1.77, SD = .64) and low MEL (M = 2.08, SD = .85 ). Table 3 summarizes the mean scores across the three categories.
Means and Standard Deviations for the Parenting Subscales by Mother Educational Level
Mother Educational Level (MEL)
(n = 243)
(n = 169)
(n = 169)
Associations with Context and Child Variables: Type of School and Gender
Two-Way MANOVA results showed significant multivariate effects for type of school, Wilks’ Î» = .901, F (4, 577) = 15.8, p < .001, partial eta squared = .099. Power to detect the effect was 1. Significant univariate main effects for Type of School were obtained for Rules, F (1, 580) = 15.48, p < .001, partial eta square=.026, power = .975; Discipline, F (1, 580 ) = 5.315, p = .021, partial eta square = .009, power = .634 and Harsh Punishment F (1, 580) = 52.104, p < .001, partial eta square = .082, power = 1.
Parents whose children are in private schools reported higher mean scores in Positive Parenting (M = 4.13, SD = .54) than parents whose children attend public schools (M = 4.08, SD =.66). The same occurs for Rules with parents of private school children scoring higher (M = 4.69, SD = .39) than parents of public school children (M = 4.57, SD = .48).
In contrast, parents whose children are in private schools showed lower mean scores in Discipline (M = 2.97 , SD = .79) than parents whose children are in public schools (M = 3.14, SD = .87); the same occurs with Harsh Punishment (private schools: M = 1.66, SD = .60; public schools: M = 2.09, SD = .60). All means and standard deviations for each scale are presented in Table 4.
Means and Standard Deviations for the Parenting Subscales by Type of School and Gender
Type of School
(N = 295)
(N = 289)
(N = 338)
(N = 246)
The main effect of sex was not significant, Wilks’ Î» = .992, F (4, 577) = 1.18, p =.31, nor was the interaction effect of sex and type of school, Wilks’ Î» = .991, F (4, 577) = 1.37, p =.24. As Table 4 shows, mean scores of Positive Parenting, Rules, Discipline and Harsh Punishment were similar for parents whose children are girls or boys.
The Ghent Parental Behavior Questionnaire is an instrument through which we can obtain important information about parenting behavior, structuring the information within different scales. Its efficiency has been tested in a European context but we wanted to test it in a Latin reality. In this study we aimed, on one side, to analyze the psychometric properties of the GPBS within a Peruvian context by (a) testing the factorial structure of the questionnaire and (b) examining the internal consistency of the remained scales. On the other side, (c) we examined mean differences for some parent (Socioeconomic Status, Mother Educational Level), child (gender) and context (type of school) variables
With regard to the first objective, testing the factorial structure of GPBS, the nine factor solution used in previous studies by Van Leeuwen (2004) could not be confirmed. This result might be linked to some minor cultural differences that could not be grasped thoroughly with this questionnaire. Although we needed to eliminate some subscales, the essence of the dimensionality of parenting is reflected in the remained subscales. Moreover, the lack of other reliable and valid measures of parenting behavior in the Peruvian context justifies the use of the translated questionnaire.
The internal consistency of the four scales: Positive Parenting, Rules, Discipline and Harsh Punishment were sufficient above Î± = .70 and according to Watkins (2001) very adequate. The other five scales obtained reliability between .48 and .59 which is rather low. Nunnally (1979 in Watkins et al. 2001) stated that a coefficient of .50 or higher is acceptable for research purposes. Hence, the scale Autonomy and Inconsistent Discipline had a low Î± of .48.Despite of Nunnally’s opinion about the acceptance of these scales; we decided to stay with the former four scales to be sure about the questionnaire’s robustness. The results from the factor analyses and from the reliability analyses indicated the internal validity and reliability of GPBS subscales in a Peruvian sample of parents. These results allow us to use the remained subscales in further analyses.
Association of these four scales and parents variable were significant. Regarding Socioeconomic Status (SES), main effects were obtained for Positive Parenting. The first two scales differed significantly in high SES from medium and low. In contrast, Harsh Punishment differed significant in low SES in comparison to high and medium.
The relationship between SES and parenting has been cited by several authors as a potent determinant of behavior (Holden, 2010; Kotchick & Forehand, 2002). Bornstein and Bradley (2003) mentioned that SES is not only linked to behavior, such as verbal interaction, discipline and control but also to cognitions (i.e. values, expectations and self-perceptions) and traits (authoritative, authoritarian and permissive parenting). It influences child rearing through goals, values and behavior.
Results obtained in this article are consistent with previous research. In this regard, the inverse relationship between SES and the use of harsh punishment has also been demonstrated. As socioeconomic status decreases, the use of physical punishment increases (Bronfenbrenner, 1958; Gecas, 1979; Shumow, Vandell, & Posner, 1998; Xu, Tung, & Dunaway, 2000). Glasgow, Dornbusch, Troyer, Steinberg, and Ritter (1997) pointed out that high-SES parents engaged in more authoritative parenting style, set more limits and rules as a way to discipline their children, whereas low-SES parents are more likely to be either authoritarian
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