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Child Dev. 1984 Feb;55(1):83-96.

The determinants of parenting: a process model.


This essay is based on the assumption that a long-neglected topic of socialization, the determinants of individual differences in parental functioning, is illuminated by research on the etiology of child maltreatment. Three domains of determinants are identified (personal psychological resources of parents, characteristics of the child, and contextual sources of stress and support), and a process model of competent parental functioning is offered on the basis of the analysis. The model presumes that parental functioning is multiply determined, that sources of contextual stress and support can directly affect parenting or indirectly affect parenting by first influencing individual psychological well-being, that personality influences contextual support/stress, which feeds back to shape parenting, and that, in order of importance, the personal psychological resources of the parent are more effective in buffering the parent-child relation from stress than are contextual sources of support, which are themselves more effective than characteristics of the child.

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