Maternal Acceptance and Consistency of Discipline as Buffers of Divorce Stressors on Children’s Psychological Adjustment Problems

Maternal Acceptance and Consistency of Discipline as Buffers of Divorce Stressors on Children’s Psychological Adjustment Problems

Sharlene A. Wolchik

Sharlene A. Wolchik [1,3]

Kathryn L. Wilcox [1]

Jenn-Yun Tein [2]

Irwin N. Sandler [1]

This study examines whether two aspects of mothering–acceptance and consistency of discipline–buffer the effect of divorce stressors on adjustment problems in 678 children, ages 8 to 15, whose families had divorced within the past 2 years. Children reported on divorce stressors; both mothers and children reported on mothering and internalizing and externalizing problems. Multiple regressions indicate that for maternal report of mothering, acceptance interacted with divorce stressors in predicting both dimensions of adjustment problems, with the pattern of findings supporting a stress-buffering effect. For child report of mothering, acceptance, consistency of discipline, and divorce stressors interacted in predicting adjustment problems. The relation between divorce stressors and internalizing and externalizing problems is stronger for children who report low acceptance and low consistency of discipline than for children who report either low acceptance and high consistency of discipline or high acceptance a nd low consistency of discipline. Children reporting high acceptance and high consistency of discipline have the lowest levels of adjustment problems. Implications of these results for understanding variability in children’s postdivorce adjustment and interventions for divorced families are discussed.

KEY WORDS: Children’s postdivorce adjustment; authoritative parenting; divorce; stress-buffer effects.

Parental divorce occurs to about 1.5 million American children each year (National Center for Health Statistics, 1995), making it one of the most common major life stressors that children experience. The prevalence of this stressor and its potential negative effects highlight the importance of identifying malleable protective factors and developing interventions that can facilitate the adjustment of children who experience this stressor.

Parental divorce is associated with a variety of maladaptive outcomes for children, including increased levels of aggression, depression, anxiety, poor academic performance, school dropout, peer relationship problems, drug and alcohol use, early sexual behavior, and adolescent pregnancy (e.g., Amato & Keith, 1991; Hetherington et al., 1992). The negative effects of divorce can be both significant and persistent. For example, Hetherington et al. (1992) found that rates of clinical levels of mother-reported mental health problems 6 years after the divorce were 35% for girls and 20% for boys, rates that were up to 7 times higher than those found in comparable nondivorced controls. Several other prospective longitudinal studies have shown elevated rates of mental health problems of adults who experienced parental divorce as children. In a prospective longitudinal study of a birth cohort in Great Britain, Rodgers, Power, and Hope (1997) found the odds ratio for being above the clinical level on mental health prob lems was 1.70 at age 23 and 1.85 at age 33. Using data from several prospective longitudinal data sets, MacKinnon, Sandler, Wilcox, and Proescholdbell (1997) computed the attributable risk for parental divorce, an estimate of the percentage of cases that might have been prevented by removing the effects of the pathognomic processes associated with divorce. The attributable risk of divorce for the following problems occurring by the ages of 18 to 22 was 23% for teenage pregnancy (Furstenberg & Teitler, 1994), 30% for school dropout, and 36% for clinical levels of behavior problems (Zill, Morrison, & Coiro, 1993). However, there is great diversity in children’s postdivorce adjustment. Illustratively, 65% of the girls and 80% of the boys in the Hetherington et al. (1992) study did not have clinical levels of mental health problems. Similarly, other studies show minimal and transient adjustment problems following parental divorce (Amato & Keith, 1991).

The diversity in the short-term as well as long-term effects of parental divorce has led researchers to examine what factors may account for this variability. Most researchers use a transitional-events model to conceptualize differences in response to divorce (e.g., Felner, Farber, & Primavera, 1983). Within this framework, children’s post-divorce adjustment is hypothesized to be affected by the magnitude and nature of the divorce stressors they experience, their interpersonal and intrapersonal resources, and the interaction between divorce stressors and resources.

Currently, there is considerable evidence that supports the relation between postdivorce stressors and children’s mental health problems (e.g., Sandler, Wolchik, Braver, & Fogas, 1991). However, despite the empirical work demonstrating the relation between divorce stressors and adjustment problems and the prominence of interactive effects between divorce stressors and resources in conceptual frameworks of children’s adjustment to divorce, few researchers have examined whether interpersonal or intrapersonal resources buffer the negative effects of divorce stressors on children’s postdivorce adjustment problems. A stress buffer is defined as a variable that reduces the relation between stressors and children’s adjustment problems (Cohen & Wills, 1985). Evidence for a stress-buffer consists of particular forms of a significant interaction effect between stress and the potential buffering variable (Cohen & Wills, 1985). As shown in Fig. 1, the resource may partially or completely mitigate the relation between st ressors and adjustment problems. Partial mitigation, shown in Fig. lA, would be evidenced by a steeper slope between stress and adjustment problems at low levels of the resource than at high levels of the resource, although at both levels of the resource, the slope of the regression line is positive. Alternatively, as shown in Fig. 1B, the resource may completely eliminate the effect of stressors on adjustment problems. In the interaction shown in Fig. 1B, which is considered a classic stress-buffer effect, the slope of the regression of adjustment problems on stressors is lower for high levels of the resource than for low levels of the resource. Also, the difference between groups with high versus low levels of the resource is greatest at higher levels of stressors.

Identifying stress-buffering resources for children who experience parental divorce has important theoretical and clinical implications. For example, this type of research can explain the variability in children’s response to parental divorce, identify children who are most at risk and in need of interventions, and facilitate the selection of variables to target for change in interventions for this group of at-risk children (Sandler, Wolchik, MacKinnon, Ayers, & Roosa, 1997).

One potentially important protective interpersonal resource for children of divorce is the mother–child relationship. Because 85% (Seltzer, 1994) to 90% (Select Committee on Children, Youth & Families, 1989) of children live with their mothers postdivorce, information about the buffering potential of the mother-child relationship has critical implications for understanding variation in children’s postdivorce adjustment and designing interventions. Most of the research on the relation between children’s postdivorce adjustment and the mother-child relationships has employed a direct-effects model, in which the association between the quality of the mother-child relationship and child adjustment is examined independent of the level of divorce stressors. Several researchers have documented that following divorce, children who have close, supportive relationships with their mothers fare better than those with less positive relationships (e.g., Clarke-Stewart & Hayward, 1996; Hetherington et al., 1992). Researche rs also have documented that consistent, effective discipline by the custodial mother is associated with better postdivorce adjustment (e.g., Forgatch, Patterson, & Skinner, 1988). Although most of the research in this area is cross-sectional, there is some evidence that intervention-induced improvement in discipline as well as quality of mother-child relationship account for positive change in postdivorce adjustment problems (e.g., Forgatch & DeGarmo, 1999; Wolchik, West et al., 1993).

It is interesting to speculate about how these dimensions of mothering may buffer the negative effects of divorce stressors on children’s adjustment problems. By communicating a strong sense of warmth, concern, and caring to their children, highly accepting mothers may allay fears of abandonment, which are significantly related to children’s postdivorce adjustment (e.g., Kurdek & Berg, 1987; Wolchik, Ramirez et al., 1993) and partially mediate the relation between divorce stressors and adjustment problems (Tein, Wolchik, Wilcox, & Sandler, 1996). Relatedly, mother-child relationships characterized by high levels of acceptance may promote a sense of security (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978), convey the notion that support or assistance is available, or enhance self-esteem (Rosenberg & McCullough, 1981), which may reduce the threat of divorce stressors (Kliewer, Sandler, & Wolchik, 1994). Alternatively, high acceptance may facilitate a more varied repertoire of coping strategies (Hardy, Power, & Jaedi cke, 1993).

High consistency of discipline may buffer the effects of divorce stressors by affecting children’s sense of the predictability of their environments. Interactions in which children’s behaviors result in predictable outcomes may promote a sense of control. A heightened sense of control could influence threat appraisals, enhance perceptions of mastery and efficacy, or promote the use of adaptive coping efforts (Skinner & Wellborn, 1994). Alternatively, high consistency may reduce coercive interactions between mothers and children about discipline issues, which would affect children’s use of mothers as resources.

Given the large literature on the effects of different styles of parenting (i.e, authoritative, authoritarian, indulgent, and neglectful) on children’s adjustment (e.g., Baumrind, 1989; Maccoby & Martin, 1983; Steinberg, 1990), it is reasonable to expect that high levels of maternal consistency of discipline and acceptance, which are components of authoritative mothering, would yield the strongest stress-buffering effects. The consistent enforcement of household rules may lead to children having a greater sense of predictability about more general interactions with their mother. This increased predictability may accentuate the effects of high levels of acceptance by further augmenting a sense of security. Alternatively, consistent enforcement of rules may reduce arguments mothers and children have about discipline issues. Thus, children may feel more comfortable asking mothers for support or assistance in dealing with divorce stressors. Conversely, the combination of low acceptance and low consistency of dis cipline, which characterizes neglectful mothering, should negatively influence children’s ability to withstand the effects of divorce stressors by heightening fears of abandonment, increasing arguments about discipline, and leading to perceptions that one’s mother is unavailable to provide support. It is plausible that the combination of high acceptance and low consistency (e.g., indulgent mothering) or high consistency and low acceptance (e.g., authoritarian mothering) may provide some level of protection because of the stress protection provided by the dimension that is high.

The findings from the few studies that have examined whether mother-child relationships in divorced families buffer the negative effects of divorce on psychological adjustment problems are inconsistent. On the basis of their findings of fewer behavior problems in children who experienced either interparental conflict or a poor father–child relationship in the context of a good mother–child relationship than in children who experienced these stressors in the context of a poor mother–child relationship, Hetherington, Cox, and Cox (1982) concluded that a positive mother–child relationship buffered the effects of these stressors on adjustment problems. Similarly, on the basis of their finding that children with high-quality mother–child and low-quality father–child relationships exhibited significantly fewer behavior problems than in those with poor relationships with both parents, Camara and Resnick (1987) concluded that a positive mother–child relationship mitigated the effects of a poor father–child r elationship on adjustment problems. More recently, Pettit, Bates, and Dodge (1997) reported a significant interaction indicative of a stress-buffering effect between maternal warmth and marital status (i.e., presence/absence of a father or father-figure in the home) when children were in kindergarten on externalizing problems 6 years later. In contrast, examining whether quality of the mother-child relationship interacted with the number of family stressors (i.e., divorce, interparental conflict, and maternal depression) in predicting adjustment problems in an adolescent sample, Forehand et al. (1991) found a nonsignificant interaction. Similarly, Summers, Forehand, Armistead, and Tannenbaum (1998) reported a nonsignificant interaction between the quality of mother–adolescent relationships in early adolescence and parental marital status in early adolescence in predicting mental health symptoms of young adults. A plausible explanation for the discrepancies in findings is that Forehand and his colleagues stud ied adolescents, whereas the other researchers studied preschool or middle-childhood samples. Another possible explanation involves differences in the analytic approach employed. Whereas some researchers compared behavior problems across groups with low- and high-quality mother-child relationships, other researchers examined the significance of the interaction term between quality of the mother-child relationship and stressor in predicting adjustment problems.

Although the minimal research in this area provides some support for the potential of mother-child relationships to buffer the negative effects of divorce, there are several limitations in this body of work that are addressed in the current study. First, previous studies in this area have operationalized divorce stress as either the occurrence of divorce or the experience of a limited set of divorce-related stressors, such as interparental conflict. Neither approach captures the range of stressors that children may experience during the process of parental divorce or the recent occurrence of such stressors. The current study improves on previous efforts by using life-event methodology to assess the recent occurrence of a representative sample of divorce-related stressors. Second, previous studies have focused primarily on one aspect of the mother-child relationship–its positivity–or have used a composite measure that combines several aspects of the mother-child relationship. The only study that has examine d discipline reported a nonsignificant interaction effect of harsh discipline and marital status (Pettit et al., 1997). The current study examines two potentially protective aspects of the mother-child relationship that are empirically supported correlates of children’s postdivorce adjustment: acceptance and consistency of discipline. Third, no studies have examined whether stress buffering would be enhanced when the mother-child relationship is characterized by high levels of both effective discipline and positivity. The current study examines whether the combination of high levels of acceptance and consistency of discipline mitigates the negative effects of divorce stressors on children’s adjustment problems beyond the individual effects of these two dimensions of parenting. Finally, none of the prior studies had sufficient sample size to examine adequately gender differences in the stress-buffer effect. The importance of this question is supported by findings that suggest boys and their mothers have more c ontentious relationships postdivorce than do girls and their mothers (see Hetherington, Bridges, & Insabella, 1998) and that the protective effect of positive mother-child relationships for children who face other stressors is stronger for girls than for boys (e.g., Masten et al., 1988; Wyman et al., 1992). The current sample was large enough to explore whether the stress-moderation effects of consistency of discipline and acceptance differ for boys and girls.

The present study investigated the interaction between acceptance, consistency of discipline, and divorce stressors in predicting children’s psychological adjustment problems. Psychological adjustment problems were operationalized along two broadband dimensions, internalizing and externalizing problems, dimensions that have received consistent empirical support (e.g., Achenbach, 1985; Cicchetti & Toth, 1991). Empirical results and theory concerning the associations between divorce, the mothering dimensions of acceptance and consistency of discipline, and adjustment problems support three major hypotheses. First, acceptance and consistency of discipline will mitigate the effects of divorce stressors on psychological adjustment problems. That is, divorce stressors will have a stronger relation with adjustment problems for children with low acceptance or low consistency of discipline than those with high acceptance or high consistency of discipline. Second, the combination of acceptance and consistency of disci pline will interact with divorce stressors such that the relation between divorce stressors and adjustment problems will be stronger for children with low levels of both consistency and acceptance than that for children with high consistency and high acceptance, low acceptance and high consistency, and high acceptance and low consistency of discipline. Third, gender will moderate the interactive effect of consistency of discipline or acceptance on adjustment problems such that the relation between divorce stressors and adjustment problems will be stronger for boys than for girls.

METHOD

Participants

The sample consists of 678 children who recently experienced parental divorce and their custodial mothers. These families were participants in one of three research projects at the Preventive Intervention Research Center at Arizona State University. Two hundred and ten of the families were participants in the Divorce Adjustment Project (DAP; Sandler, Tein, & West, 1994), a 5.5-month longitudinal study of children’s adjustment to divorce; 166 participated in the Children of Divorce Intervention Project (CODIP; Wolchik et al., 1993), an evaluation of a parenting intervention to facilitate children’s postdivorce adjustment; 302 participated in the New Beginnings project (NB; Wolchik et al., in press), an evaluation of three interventions to promote children’s postdivorce adjustment. In the NB project, 256 participants were interested in participating in the intervention; the other 46 participants agreed to be interviewed only. The sample was restricted to families with totally complete data on all measures in t his study to enhance reliability and validity of the measures. Therefore, samples used in this study are smaller than the original samples.

Information from the initial interview, which occurred prior to assignment to condition in the intervention projects, was used for this study. In all projects, court records were used as the primary method for recruiting participants. Potential participants were randomly selected for recruitment from records of divorce decrees that had been granted within the past 2 years. For the intervention studies, media advertisements and referrals also were used. In CODIP and NB, 12% and 11%, respectively, of the intervention sample were from media announcements, and 5% and 2%, respectively, were from referrals. In addition, 2% of the CODIP sample were recruited from school presentations. Recruitment and interview procedures were similar across the projects; the assessment batteries also were highly similar.

The following eligibility criteria were used in all three projects: divorce had occurred within the past 2 years, mothers had not remarried and did not have a live-in partner, children resided with their mothers at least half the time, and mothers and children were fluent in English. In DAP, the child and mother could be in treatment for psychological problems, whereas the other two projects excluded families if either the child or mother was receiving psychological treatment. Because the primary purpose of the NB project was to evaluate the immediate and short-term follow-up effects of three interventions, the following additional eligibility criteria were employed: the interviewed child’s custody status was expected to remain stable over the 5-month study period, the family expected to remain in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area for the study period; the child was not learning disabled or mentally handicapped; and, if the child was diagnosed as having attention-deficit disorder, she or he was taking me dication. The first three of these eligibility criteria were also used in CODIP. Child age requirements were: DAP = 8 to 12 years; CODIP = 8 to 15 years; NB = 9 to 12 years. In families where there was more than one child in the age range, one child was randomly selected to ensure independence of response.

Children averaged 10.2 years of age (SD = 1.5); 94% were between 8 and 12 years old. Forty-eight percent of the children were female. Eighty-four percent of the children had at least one sibling living with them. The majority of the mothers were Caucasian (87%); 8% were Hispanic, 2% were Black, and 3% were of another racial or ethnic background. Mothers averaged 36 years of age (SD = 5.1). Twenty-four percent of the mothers had completed college or attended graduate programs; 50% had taken some college courses or completed technical school; 21% had completed high school; and 5% had less than a high school education. Mother’s average yearly income fell in the range of $20,001-$25,000. The average time since physical separation was 26.0 months (SD = 15.2); the average time since divorce was 12.1 months (SD = 6.3). In 68% of the families, the mothers had sole legal custody; the rest had joint legal custody.

Procedure

Mothers and children were interviewed by separate, trained interviewers. After confidentiality was explained, mothers signed informed-consent forms and children signed assent forms indicating their willingness to participate. Families received $45 and $50 compensation in the NB and DAP projects, respectively; participants in CODIP did not receive monetary compensation.

Measures of Predictors

Mothering

The Acceptance and Consistency of Discipline sub-scales of Teleki, Powell, and Dodder’s (1982) adaptation of the Children’s Report of Parental Behavior Inventory (CRPBI; Schaefer, 1965) were used to assess child and mother reports of mothering behaviors during the past month. The CRPBI was originally developed as a child-report measure. For these projects, the items were reworded to obtain mother report as well. Ten items from the 16-item acceptance subscales were used. Items include: “Enjoys talking things over with me” and “Is able to make me feel better when I am upset.” The 8-item Consistency of Discipline subscale includes items such as “Soon forgets a rule she has made” and “Frequently changes the rules I am supposed to follow.” These subscales have adequate internal consistency (Schaefer, 1965). Support for the discriminant validity of the Acceptance and Consistency of Discipline subscales is provided by Schaefer’s (1965) and Schaefer and Bell’s (1958) factor analytic work with three samples. In all t he samples, acceptance loaded on the factor of Acceptance versus Rejection and consistency of discipline loaded on the factor of Psychological Control. Confirmatory factory analyses of the current data were also performed to examine whether the items yielded clearly defined acceptance and consistency factors. The results showed that for both child and mother reports, a two-dimension solution was significantly better than the one-dimension solution. The [X.sup.2] change between the two models was 728.52 (df = 1, p [less than] .001) and 1269.06 (df = 1, p [less than] .001) for child report and mother report, respectively. In this study, Cronbach’s alpha ([alpha]) for mother and child reports of acceptance was .84 and .85, respectively. For mother and child reports of consistency of discipline, [alpha]s were .83 and .73, respectively.

Divorce Stressors

Children reported the number of 16 negative divorce events that occurred within the past month (CODIP, NB) or three months (DAP) on the Divorce Events Schedule for Children (Sandler, Wolchik, Braver, & Fogas, 1986), a “tailor-made” life-events scale designed to assess a representative sample of stressors that children may experience after divorce. In developing this scale, stressors were defined as events that recently happened to a child or in a child’s environment that generally would be perceived as negative by the child. Divorce-related stressors were conceptualized as those stressful events that typically occur following parental divorce and were nominated by knowledgeable key informants (i.e., parents and children who had experienced divorce, mental health professionals and lawyers who had worked with divorced families). These informants identified a heterogeneous set of experiences that they believed had an important impact on children after divorce. In a separate sample of children who had experience d parental divorce, children rated whether each event occurred within the past 3 months and whether the event was positive, neutral, or negative. To minimize possible contamination of participants’ adjustment and their assessment of the valence of events (e.g., Monroe, 1982), scores were derived using consensually based classification (Sandler et al., 1991). Events were classified as consensually negative or positive if 80% or more of the children who had experienced the event rated it in that direction. Of the 62 events, 16 were consensually classified as negative. Similar to other life-events scales, the events are heterogeneous in content. Examples of negative events are: “Relatives said bad things about mom/dad”; “Dad misses scheduled visits”; “Mom and dad argued in front of me”; “Parents physically hit/hurt each other”; “I had to give up pets/toys/things I like.” The total divorce stressor score correlates with children’s internalizing and externalizing symptoms in cross-sectional and short-term longitud inal studies (Sandler et al., 1986, 1991). Two week test-retest reliability has been shown to be adequate (r = .79; Program for Prevention Research, 1992).

Measures of Criteria

Externalizing Behavior Problems

Mother report of child externalizing problems during the past month was measured using the 33-item Externalizing subscale of the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL; Achenbach & Edelbrock, 1983). A large body of research provides support for the reliability and validity of this subscale (Achenbach, 1991a). In the current sample, [alpha] was .98. Child report of externalizing behavior problems in the DAP and CODIP data sets was obtained using Cook’s Hostility Scale (Cook, 1985), which consists of items adapted for child report from the externalizing subscale of the CBCL. In the NB data set, the Youth Self-Report Externalizing Behavior Problems subscale (YSR; Achenbach, 1991b) was used, which is highly similar to the externalizing subscale of the CBCL. In all samples, children reported on externalizing problems during the past month. In this study, the 23 items common to both the YSR and the Cook scale were used. In this sample, [alpha] was .96. To form the cross-rater composite score for externalizing behavior pro blems, the mother and child report scores were first standardized. Then, the mean of these scores was computed.

Internalizing Behavior Problems

Mother report of child internalizing behavior problems during the past month was measured using the 31-item Internalizing subscale of the CBCL. A large body of research provides support for the reliability and validity of this subscale (Achenbach, 1991a). In the current sample, [alpha] was .98. Child report of internalizing behavior problems was assessed by two constrncts: depression and anxiety. Child report of depression was measured using the 27-item Child Depression Inventory (CDI; Kovacs, 1981). Children rated depressive symptoms during the past 2 weeks. The CDI has been shown to discriminate clinically depressed and nondepressed psychiatric patients (Lobovits & Hendal, 1985). Internal consistency (Kovacs, 1981) and test-retest (Reynolds, 1992) reliability have been shown to be adequate. In this study, [alpha] was .82. The 28-item Revised Children’s Manifest Anxiety Scale (RCMAS; Reynolds & Richmond, 1978) was used to measure anxiety. The RCMAS has adequate internal consistency (Reynolds & Richmond, 197 8), test–retest reliability (Reynolds & Paget, 1981), and construct validity (King, Gullone, Tonge, & Ollendick, 1993). In this study, [alpha] was .84. A child report measure of internalizing problems was formed by standardizing the CDI and RCMAS scores and then computing their average. To form the cross-rater composite score for internalizing behavior problems, the child-report measure of internalizing and the standardized mother-report internalizing score were averaged.

RESULTS

Regression diagnostics for identifying multivariate outliers were conducted prior to the test of the hypotheses. Cook’s Distance (Cook, 1977) was used, which gives an indication of the influence of each case on the regression parameter estimates. No participant was identified as being an influential outlier; thus, all cases were included in the analyses.

The means and standard deviations for all study variables are presented in Table I. Pearson product moment correlations between the study variables are shown in Table II. Mother reports of acceptance and consistency of discipline were significantly correlated (r = .29); the correlation for child reports of these variables also was significant (r = .23). Mother and child reports of acceptance were significantly related (r = .23); the correlation for discipline was significant but smaller in magnitude (r = .10). Acceptance and consistency of discipline were significantly related to both internalizing and externalizing problems (range = -.23 to -.31 for mother report; -.16 to -.26 for child report). Divorce stressors were significantly correlated with both measures of adjustment problems (range = .31 to .35). Internalizing and externalizing problems were significantly correlated (r = .57).

To test the stress-buffering effect of the mother–child relationship, separate multiple regression analyses were conducted for externalizing and internalizing problems. Because the sample included participants recruited for different research projects, dummy (sample) codes were included to control for variability among the samples. [4] Age of child and income were also included as covariates.

Each regression was conducted twice; one model used mother report of acceptance and consistency of discipline, the other used child report of acceptance and consistency of discipline. The mothering and divorce-stressor scores were centered and interaction terms were formed as the product of the two centered predictors to minimize multicollinearity (Aiken & West, 1991). The terms included in the model were those needed to test the main and interactive effects of acceptance, consistency of discipline, and divorce stressors, as well as those that tested whether these effects differed across gender. The predictors were entered in four steps for each criterion: (1) control variables (i.e., sample codes, age of child, income); (2) Acceptance, Consistency of Discipline, Divorce Stressors, Gender; (3) Acceptance x Consistency of Discipline, Acceptance x Divorce Stressors, Consistency of Discipline x Divorce Stressors, Divorce Stressors x Gender, Acceptance x Gender, Consistency of Discipline x Gender; and (4) Accept ance x Consistency of Discipline x Divorce Stressors, Acceptance x Divorce Stressors x Gender, and Consistency of Discipline x Divorce Stressors x Gender. The significant interactions were plotted using the techniques outlined by Aiken and West (1991), which typically are used to probe stress-buffering effects. The plots of the significant interactions depict the relations between divorce stressors and adjustment problems for children at 1 SD below the mean (“low”) and 1 SD above the mean (“high”) on the mothering variables.

In addition, supplemental regression analyses were conducted using Maccoby and Martin’s (1983) fourfold typology of parenting style: authoritative, authoritarian, indulgent, and neglectful. Mothers with scores in the top third on both the Acceptance and Consistency of Discipline scales were classified as authoritative; mothers with scores in the bottom third on the Acceptance and the top third on Consistency of Discipline scales were classified as authoritarian; mothers with scores in the top third on the Acceptance and bottom third on Consistency of Discipline scales were classified as indulgent; mothers with scores in the bottom third on both the Acceptance and the Consistency of Discipline scales were classified as neglectful. Three hundred and fourteen families were classified in one of the four types using mother report of mothering (123 authoritative, 60 authoritarian, 44 indulgent, 87 neglectful). Comparable figures using child report of mothering are 139,63, 63, and 78 for the four types of parenting , respectively (total = 343). To test for stress-buffer effects, separate multiple regressions were conducted for internalizing and externalizing problems and for mother and child reports of mothering. To represent the types of mothering in these regressions, three dummy codes were created using neglectful mothering as the reference group (i.e., neglectful vs. authoritarian, neglectful vs. indulgent; neglectful vs. authoritative). These regressions included sample, income, child age, and child gender as covariates and the dummy codes for mothering type and divorce stressors as predictor variables.

Results of Analyses Using Continuous Measures of Parenting

Results for regressions using mother and child reports of parenting variables are presented in Tables III and IV, respectively. The unstandardized regression coefficients from the simultaneous regression analyses are provided. These coefficients represent the unique weights of the main and interactive effects controlling for all other terms.

Consistency of Discipline, Acceptance, and Divorce Stressors

As shown in Table III, the mother report of Acceptance x Divorce Stressors interaction was significant in the regressions predicting internalizing and externalizing behavior problems. The pattern of these interactions is shown in Figs. 2A and 2B. For both criterion variables, divorce stressors were more strongly related to adjustment problems for children with low acceptance than for those with high acceptance. The two-way interactions of mother report of Consistency of Discipline x Divorce Stressors in predicting internalizing and externalizing problems were nonsignificant. Also, the three-way interactions of mother report of Acceptance x Consistency of Discipline x Divorce Stressors were nonsignificant in predicting internalizing and externalizing problems.

As shown in Table IV, in the analyses using child report of mothering, the three-way interaction of Acceptance x Consistency of Discipline x Divorce Stressors was significant in predicting externalizing problems and internalizing problems. The plots of the simple slopes of these three-way interactions are shown in Figs. 3A and 3B.

As shown, divorce stressors were more strongly related to adjustment problems for children with low acceptance and low consistency of discipline than for children with either low acceptance and high consistency of discipline or high acceptance and low consistency of discipline. Further, in predicting internalizing problems, the slope of the relation between divorce stressors and adjustment problems was nonsignificant for children with low acceptance and high consistency. In predicting externalizing problems, the slope between divorce stressors and adjustment problems was nonsignificant for children with high acceptance and low consistency. Also, children with high acceptance and consistency of discipline exhibited lower levels of adjustment problems than children with only high levels of acceptance or consistency of discipline and those with low levels of both acceptance and consistency of discipline.

Gender, Acceptance/Consistency of Discipline and Divorce Stressors

One of the four 3-way interactions of gender, mothering, and divorce stressors was significant: child report of consistency of discipline, divorce stressors, and gender interacted in predicting internalizing problems. As shown in Fig. 4, for girls, the relation between divorce stressors and depression was stronger at low levels of consistency of discipline than high levels of consistency. In contrast, as shown for boys, the relation between divorce stressors and internalizing problems did not differ depending on level of consistency of discipline.

Supplemental Analyses Using Parental Style Categories

In predicting internalizing behavior problems with mother report of mothering, the interaction between the mothering-type contrast of neglectful versus authoritative and divorce stressors was significant. The slope of the relation between divorce stressors and internalizing problems was stronger for children with neglectful mothers than that for children with authoritative mothers. In predicting internalizing behavior problems with child report of mothering, the interactions between the contrasts of neglectful versus authoritarian and that between neglectful versus indulgent were significant. The pattern of the slopes was similar to that displayed in Fig. 3A. The slope between divorce stressors and internalizing problems was stronger for children with neglectful mothers than that for children with either authoritarian mothers or indulgent mothers; children with authoritative mothers showed the lowest levels of internalizing problems. In predicting externalizing behavior problems, none of the two-way interact ions involving dummy codes of mothering type and divorce stressors was significant.

DISCUSSION

The current findings indicate that the two dimensions of mothering studied, acceptance and consistency of discipline, buffer the negative effects of divorce stressors on children’s adjustment problems. For both internalizing and externalizing problems, there was evidence that these dimensions of the mother-child relationship interacted either with divorce stressors, divorce stressors and gender, or with each other and divorce stressors to predict children’s psychological adjustment problems. Although the specific pattern of findings differed across reporter, for both mother and child reports of mothering, there was evidence that protection was provided by these dimensions of mothering.

The findings extend the limited earlier work on the protective nature of the mother–child relationship in the context of divorce in several important ways. First, the measure of postdivorce stressors assessed the occurrence of a broad array of representative stressful events that are associated with parental divorce, such as derogation of parents by extended family and friends, parental distress, loss of material possessions, relocation of the noncustodial father, and interparental conflict. This measure of postdivorce stressors also provides a more proximal measure (Baldwin et al., 1993) of children’s recent stressful experiences as compared with more distal variables that have been used previously as markers of stress (e.g., divorce). Second, the current study assessed whether the protective nature of the mother–child relationship differed as a function of the number of recent divorce stressors. Earlier studies on the stress-moderating effects of the postdivorce mother–child relationship have focused on an individual stressor, such as a poor father–child relationship (Camara & Resnick, 1987; Hetherington et al., 1982) or interparental conflict (Hetherington et al., 1982), or examined whether the relation between either the number of family stressors (i.e., maternal depression, interparental conflict, divorce) or marital status and adjustment problems differed on the basis of quality of the mother–child relationship (Forehand et al., 1991; Pettit et al., 1997; Summers et al., 1998). Third, the size of the current sample provided adequate power to test more complicated stress-buffering effects–interactive effects of two dimensions of parenting and divorce stressors and interactive effects between acceptance or consistency of discipline, divorce stressors, and gender.

The regressions using mother report of acceptance showed consistent support for stress buffering. In predicting both internalizing and the externalizing problems in the full sample, acceptance interacted with divorce stressors. The pattern of these interactions was similar to that in Fig. 1A, indicating that acceptance reduced, but did not eliminate, the effects of divorce stressors on both internalizing and externalizing problems.

There are several ways in which maternal perceptions of high levels of acceptance may mitigate the negative effects of divorce stressors on adjustment problems. First, by showing high levels of acceptance, mothers may reduce children’s fear of abandonment, which has been shown to affect postdivorce adjustment problems (e.g., Kurdek & Berg, 1987; Wolchik et al., 1993) and to mediate the relation between divorce stressors and adjustment problems (Tein et al., 1996). Second, high levels of acceptance may help children feel comfortable using mothers as a resource to solve divorce-related problems or may promote children’s sharing of feelings and fears about the divorce. Third, high acceptance may promote a sense of security or self-esteem, which may buffer the impact of divorce stressors on adjustment problems. Finally, it is also possible that the child’s behavior affects mothering; children who have fewer behavior problems may be easier to assist in solving divorce-related problems or to provide emotional supp ort to than children with more behavior problems.

The supplemental analyses comparing the relation between divorce stressors and internalizing problems for children with neglectful mothers to that for children with other mothering types showed a stress-buffer effect for only one of the two mothering groups characterized by high acceptance–authoritative mothers. The lack of a significant stress-buffer effect of indulgent mothering is likely due to the limited size of this subgroup (n = 44). Thus, it seems prudent to be cautious about drawing any conclusions about the differences in the pattern of findings across these two types of analyses for internalizing behavior problems. The supplemental analyses provided no support for stress buffering of any type of mothering for externalizing problems. The effect for externalizing problems in the main analyses was not as strong as that for internalizing. Thus, one explanation for the absence of stress-buffering effects in the supplemental analysis may be the reduction in sample size (678 vs. 314).

The regressions that included child report of mothering indicated a more complex pattern than those using mother report. Three aspects of the pattern of the significant three-way interaction between divorce stressors, acceptance, and consistency of discipline, which was similar for internalizing and externalizing problems, are noteworthy. First, the slope of the regression of adjustment problems on divorce stressors was steepest for those children who reported low levels of both consistency and acceptance. Second, children who experienced high levels of consistency of discipline and acceptance experienced fewer adjustment problems than those with only high consistency or acceptance or low levels of both dimensions. Third, stress-mitigating effects were found for children with high levels of one dimension of mothering but low levels of the other dimension. For these groups of children, the level of adjustment problems changed little as a function of the number of divorce stressors. The supplemental analyses u sing parental style categories showed a similar pattern for internalizing problems. Children with neglectful mothers showed the strongest relation between divorce stressors and internalizing problems; the internalizing problems of children with authoritarian mothers and those with indulgent differed little as a function of divorce stressors. Further, although children with authoritative mothers showed the lowest level of behavior problems, this style of mothering did not mitigate the impact of divorce stressors.

What mechanisms may explain the pattern of relations obtained for child report of mothering? Although there is minimal difference in the adjustment problems of children who perceive low acceptance and low consistency of discipline versus children who report low levels of one dimension and high levels of the other dimension when stressors are low, as divorce stressors increase, children who perceive low acceptance and low consistency of discipline become increasingly vulnerable to the effects of stressors. This increased vulnerability may be due to the strain placed on children’s coping capacities when multiple divorce stressors occur in the context of limited maternal resources or assistance in solving divorce-related problems, limited maternal awareness of or interest in the child’s behavior, and minimal predictability in their interactions with their mothers. The presence of high levels of one dimension of mothering in the context of low levels of the other appears sufficient to mitigate the negative effec t of divorce stressors on adjustment problems. Children’s perceptions of consistent structure or behavioral expectations may affect response to divorce stressors by promoting an increased sense of predictability, which may facilitate coping efforts or decrease the likelihood of coercive exchanges over household rules or expectations. Children’s perception of a strong sense of maternal concern and caring may promote support-seeking from mothers, reduce fear of abandonment, or enhance self-esteem, which may reduce the impact of divorce stressors on adjustment problems. Alternatively, high levels on one dimension may compensate for the negative effects of the other dimension on the child’s ability to cope effectively with divorce stressors.

Contrary to expectation, there was minimal support that the combination of high acceptance and high consistency of discipline served as a stress buffer; only one of the main or supplemental analyses showed stress mitigation by this combination of mothering dimensions. The lack of stronger, more consistent protective effects for high levels of both consistency of discipline and acceptance, which are central components of authoritative mothering, is inconsistent with expectations based on the large literature on the salutary effects of this style of parenting. This literature, which has employed a direct- or main-effects model, has shown that a parental style characterized by warmth and inductive, nonpunitive, consistent discipline is associated with a wide array of positive developmental outcomes, such as higher academic achievement and self-esteem; fewer internalizing problems and externalizing problems; and less drug use and precocious sexual activities in children from intact and divorced homes (e.g., Baum rind, 1989; Hetherington et at., 1992). It is interesting to speculate about why this combination of mothering dimensions did not buffer the effects of divorce stressors on adjustment problems. It is possible that children who perceive their mothers as highly accepting share their experiences with divorce stressors and reactions to them with their mothers. Because mothers are aware of children’s efforts to manage divorce stressors, children may expect their mothers to be flexible about, rather than consistent in, enforcing consequences, particularly when many divorce stressors occur. This expectation may be less likely for children who perceive low levels of maternal acceptance. When children’s expectations are not met, they may be less likely to seek out their mothers for emotional support or for assistance in dealing with divorce-related problems. Note that only two aspects of authoritative mothering were assessed; it is possible that different findings would have occurred if more of the components included in most conceptualizations of this type of parenting had been assessed (e.g., encouragement of child’s independence and individuality, encouragement of verbal give-and-take).

Although stress-buffer effects occurred for both mother report and child report of mothering, the pattern differed across reporter. Given the very small correlation between mother and child reports of consistency of discipline (r = .10), the discrepancy is not surprising. For maternal reports, acceptance buffered the relation between divorce events and adjustment problems. For child report, acceptance interacted with divorce stressors and consistency of discipline in predicting adjustment problems. Mother’s rating of acceptance may reflect the degree of concern or warmth she feels for her child, which when expressed in behaviors such as helping or listening serves to protect children from the effects of divorce stressors. Children’s reports of acceptance and consistency of discipline reflect their perceptions of their mothers’ behaviors. These perceptions may affect children’s sense of efficacy, fears of abandonment, and coping strategies, which influence how they manage stressors. Both mothers’ and children ‘s ratings of dimensions of mothering are influenced by multiple factors, including expectations of themselves and each other, psychological adjustment problems, and social desirability biases. A growing literature on cross-generational perspectives on parenting consistently shows that children and mothers do not share the same definitions of or sensitivity to parenting behaviors (e.g., Gonzales, Cauce, & Mason, 1996; Tein, Roosa, & Michaels, 1994). The minimal research assessing the differential validity of cross- generational reports of dimensions of mothering by comparing questionnaire data to ratings of observers (e.g., Gonzales et at., 1996) has shown that although adolescents and mothers are equally valid reporters of maternal support, adolescents are more valid informants of control than are mothers. Whether this latter finding generalizes to ratings of consistency of discipline and to younger children is an important research issue. It is highly possible that regardless of their child’s age, mothers’ reports of control dimensions are colored by the large investment they have in the role of parent (Gonzales et at., 1996).

There was only minimal support for gender affecting the relation between mothering, divorce stressors, and adjustment problems. For internalizing problems, a stress-buffering effect of child report of consistency of discipline was found for girls but not boys, a pattern that is consistent with findings on stress moderators in other risk situations (e.g., Masten et al., 1988; Wyman et al., 1992). Given data that boys are disciplined about equally by mothers and fathers, whereas girls are disciplined more by mothers (Margolin & Patterson, 1975), high levels of consistency of discipline by custodial mothers may provide greater continuity or stability from pre- to postdivorce for girls than for boys. This continuity may facilitate a sense of security for girls, which may decrease threat appraisals or enhance adaptive coping. The lack of a parallel effect on externalizing may be due in part to a larger range of scores on internalizing than externalizing problems for girls. Alternatively, feelings of security or a bandonment may be more likely to affect internalizing than externalizing problems.

It is important to comment on the magnitude of the three-way interactive effects. The interactions accounted for 1 to 2% of the variance in adjustment problems beyond that accounted for by the first- and second-order effects of mothering, divorce stressors, and gender. This magnitude is consistent with reviews of studies of interactive effects in personality and applied psychology (Champoux & Peters, 1987). This level of effect size is expected in part because the predicted form of the interaction is ordinal rather than crossover. Further, the reliability of the product terms will always be less than or equal to the less reliable of the first- and second-order predictors (Aiken & West, 1991). Consequently, the magnitude of the observed effect size can be expected to be an underestimate of the true effect size. Nevertheless, it is important to note that most of the variance in children’s adjustment problems is accounted for by the main effects and two-way interactions of mothering, divorce stressors, and gend er.

The use of questionnaires to assess mothering and adjustment problems is a limitation of this as well as most other large-scale studies of parenting. The concerns about common method variance that are associated with this methodology are attenuated somewhat, given the use of a composite measure of adjustment problems and the findings that mothering served as a stress buffer for both mother and child reports of mothering. The difference in the pattern of findings across reporter of mothering highlights the importance of obtaining mothers’ and children’s perspectives. Future research that examines the meaning that mothers and children attach to specific parenting behaviors would be valuable (Mann & MacKenzie, 1996). Given the design of the current study, it is only possible to speculate about the nature of those mechanisms underlying the stress-buffering effects and why the patterns of findings differed for mother and child reports of parenting. Future studies, which include measurement of potential mediating mechanisms (e.g., children’s appraisals of stressors, fear of abandonment, support sought from mothers, children’s interpretation of different types of discipline) as well as behavioral measures of mother-child interactions, would be useful. Further, obtaining data on children’s adjustment problems from other perspectives, such as teachers and fathers, would be useful in future studies.

The results of this study have several implications for interventions for divorced families. First, given the current findings that acceptance and consistency of discipline have direct as well as stress-buffering effects on children’s post-divorce adjustment and the consistent observation that decreased warmth and affection and more erratic discipline practices often occur in mother-child relationships after divorce (e.g., Hetherington & Camara, 1984), consistency of discipline and acceptance should be central components of parent-focused interventions for divorced families (e.g., Forgatch et al., in press; Wolchik et al., 1993, 1999). Second, although aspects of mother-child relationships reduced the negative effects of divorce stressors on adjustment problems, the slope of the regression of divorce stressors on adjustment problems was positive and significant even under conditions of high-quality mothering in most of the regressions, and the interactive effects were small in magnitude. Thus, intervention p rograms need to focus specifically on reducing the occurrence of divorce stressors and/or enhancing other potential stress buffers such as coping. Third, the results suggest that aspects of mothering and divorce stressors can be useful in identifying children who are at risk for developing adjustment problems; the most vulnerable group consisted of children who experienced many stressors but reported minimal maternal resources. Targeting these children for interventions may increase the cost-effectiveness of prevention efforts.

The contributions and limitations of this study suggest several areas for future research. First, the study used cross-sectional data and, as a result, the direction of effects between these variables cannot be determined. Although there is some research documenting that intervention-induced changes in mothering partially mediate improvements in children’s postdivorce adjustment problems (i.e., Wolchik et al., 1993; Wolchik et al., in press), additional research is needed to determine the causal paths between divorce stressors, mothering, and children’s adjustment problems. Second, studies that examine a broader range of mothering variables as well as mechanisms through which particular components of mothering exert their protective effects would be valuable. Third, the sample was predominantly Caucasian. Ethnically diverse samples should be obtained in future research, particularly because the dimensions of mothering assessed in the current study may not operate the same cross-culturally (e.g., Baldwin et a l., 1993). Finally, researchers could examine the protective nature of the mother-child relationships within more complex models that include the children’s relationships with their fathers, siblings, other members of their social networks, as well as their intrapersonal resources.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This research was supported by National Institute of Mental Health grant P30MH39246. The authors wish to thank Philip Poirier, Ernest Fairchild, Bruce Fogas, and Kathleen Nelson for their assistance with this manuscript, and the mothers and children for their participation. They also want to thank Sharlene’s children, Katie and Lauren, for helping her learn about mothering.

(1.) Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.

(2.) Program for Prevention Research, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.

(3.) Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Sharlene A. Wolchik, Arizona State University, Department of Psychology, Tempe, AZ 85287-1108.

(4.) The sample comprised three data sets. However, because the NB project included two subgroups (intervention acceptors and intervention refusers), three dummy codes were used in the analyses. Analyses of variance (ANOVAs) indicated that the children in the two intervention groups (CODIP and NB intervention acceptors) had higher levels of internalizing symptomatology according to mother and child report than did children in one of the nonintervention groups (DAP). Also, children in the CODIP intervention group had higher levels of internalizing than did children in the NB intervention refusers group. Across samples, it appears that children in families that agreed to participate in the intervention studies exhibited greater internalizing than those that did not. For externalizing symptomatology, children in the DAP and CODIP samples had higher levels of externalizing problems than children in the NB intervention acceptors or NB intervention refusers sample.

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Descriptive Data for Predictor and Criterion Variables

Report

Variable source M SD Kurtosis Skewness

Acceptance Child 26.6 3.7 2.30 -1.45

Consistency of

discipline Child 18.4 3.5 -0.40 -0.49

Divorce

stressors Child 3.0 2.5 1.35 0.97

Acceptance Mother 27.9 2.5 2.89 -1.66

Consistency of

discipline Mother 20.1 3.3 0.87 -1.03

Externalizing

problems Composite 0.0 0.8 1.78 1.09

Internalizing

problems Composite 0.0 0.8 0.53 0.78

Pearson Product Moment Correlations for

Predictor and Criterion Variables

Consistency of Consistency of

Report Acceptance discipline discipline

Variable source (Child) (Mother) (Child)

Acceptance Mother .23 [a] .29 [a] .03

Acceptance Child .07 .23 [a]

Consistency of discipline Mother .10 [c]

Consistency of discipline Child

Divorce stressors Child

Externalizing problems Composite

Internalizing problems Composite

Externalizing Internalizing

Divorce stressors problems problems

Variable (Child) (Composite) (Composite)

Acceptance -.03 -.29 [a] -.23 [a]

Acceptance -.09 [b] -.22 [a] -.16 [a]

Consistency of discipline -.06 -.30 [a] -.31 [a]

Consistency of discipline -.25 [a] -.26 [a] -.23 [a]

Divorce stressors .31 [a] .35 [a]

Externalizing problems .57 [a]

Internalizing problems

(a.)p [leq] .001.

(b.)p [leq] .05.

(c.)p [leq] .01.

Simultaneous Regressions of child Adjustment Problems on Mother Report of

Acceptance, Consistency of Discipline, Child Report of Divorce Stressors,

and Child Gender

Externalizing Internalizing

B [a] SE B [a]

Covariates [R.sup.2] = .04 [R.sup.2] = .05

S1 [b] .27 [c] .12 .19

S2 .46 [d] .12 -.10

S3 .20 .12 .23 [c]

Child age .03 .02 -.01

Income -.01 .01 -.02 [c]

Main effects [R.sup.2] = .24 [R.sup.2] = .26

Child gender .06 .06 -.05

Acceptance -.07 [d] .01 -.06 [d]

Consistency of discipline -.06 [d] .01 -.06 [d]

Divorce stressors .10 [d] .01 .11 [d]

Two-way interactions [R.sup.2] = .26 [R.sup.2] = .28

Acceptance x Consistency

of discipline -.01 .01 -.01

Acceptance x Divorce

stressors -.02 [e] .01 -.02 [d]

Consistency of discipline x

Divorce stressors .01 .01 .01

Divorce stressors x Gender .03 .02 -.02

Acceptance x Gender -.05 .02 .01

Consistency of discipline x

Gender .01 .02 -.01

Three-way interaction [R.sup.2] = .27 [R.sup.2] = .28

Acceptance x Consistency

of discipline x Divorce

stressors -.01 .01 -.01

Acceptance x Divorce

stressors x Gender -.02 .01 -.01

Consistency of discipline x

Divorce stressors x Gender .01 .01 -.01

SE

Covariates

S1 [b] .12

S2 .12

S3 .11

Child age .02

Income .01

Main effects

Child gender .05

Acceptance .01

Consistency of discipline .01

Divorce stressors .01

Two-way interactions

Acceptance x Consistency

of discipline .01

Acceptance x Divorce

stressors .01

Consistency of discipline x

Divorce stressors .01

Divorce stressors x Gender .02

Acceptance x Gender .02

Consistency of discipline x

Gender .02

Three-way interaction

Acceptance x Consistency

of discipline x Divorce

stressors .01

Acceptance x Divorce

stressors x Gender .01

Consistency of discipline x

Divorce stressors x Gender .01

(a.)Unstandardized regression coefficient.

(b.)Sample was dummy coded so that S1, S2, and S3 account for between-sample differences.

(c.)p [leq] .05.

(d.)p [leq] .001.

(e.)p [leq] .01.

Simultaneous Regressions of Child

Adjustment Problems on Child Report

of Acceptance, Consistency of

Discipline, Child Report of

Divorce Stressors, and Child Gender

Externalizing Internalizing

B [a] SE B [a]

Covariates [R.sup.2] = .04 [R.sup.2] = .05

S1 [b] .27 [c] .13 .18

S2 .46 [d] .12 -.10

S3 .18 .12 .22

Child age .03 .02 -.01

Income -.02 .01 -.03 [e]

Main effects [R.sup.2] = .18 [R.sup.2] = .20

Child gender .03 .06 -.04

Acceptance -.04 [d] .01 -.02 [e]

Consistency of discipline -.04 [d] .01 -.02 [e]

Divorce stressors .07 [d] .01 .09 [d]

Two-way interactions [R.sup.2] = .19 [R.sup.2] = .21

Acceptance x Consistency

of discipline -.01 .01 -.01

Acceptance x Divorce

stressors -.01 .01 -.01

Consistency of discipline x

Divorce stressors -.01 .01 -.01

Divorce stressors x Gender .05 [c] .02 .01

Acceptance x Gender .03 .02 -.01

Consistency of discipline x

Gender .01 .02 .01

Three-way interactions [R.sup.2] = .20 [R.sup.2] = .23

Acceptance x Consistency

of discipline x Divorce

stressors .01 [c] .01 .01

Acceptance x Divorce

stressors x Gender -.01 .01 .01

Consistency of discipline x

Divorce stressors x Gender .01 .01 .02 [e]

SE

Covariates

S1 [b] .13

S2 .12

S3 .12

Child age .02

Income .01

Main effects

Child gender .06

Acceptance .01

Consistency of discipline .01

Divorce stressors .01

Two-way interactions

Acceptance x Consistency

of discipline .01

Acceptance x Divorce

stressors .01

Consistency of discipline x

Divorce stressors .01

Divorce stressors x Gender .02

Acceptance x Gender .02

Consistency of discipline x

Gender .02

Three-way interactions

Acceptance x Consistency

of discipline x Divorce

stressors .01

Acceptance x Divorce

stressors x Gender .01

Consistency of discipline x

Divorce stressors x Gender .01

(a.)Unstandardized regression coefficient.

(b.)Sample was dummy coded so that S1, S2, and S3 account for between-sample differences.

(c.)p [leq] .05.

(d.)p [leq] .001.

(e.)p [leq] .01.

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COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group