Harsh Parenting As a Potential Mediator of the Association Between Intimate Partner Violence and Child Disruptive Behavior in Families With Young Children

Damion J. Grasso*, David Henry, Jacqueline Kestler, Ricardo Nieto, Lauren S. Wakschlag, Margaret J. Briggs-Gowan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Young children living with intimate partner violence (IPV) are often also exposed to harsh parenting. Both forms of violence increase children’s risk for clinically significant disruptive behavior, which can place them on a developmental trajectory associated with serious psychological impairment later in life. Although it is hypothesized that IPV behaviors may spillover into harsh parenting, and thereby influence risk for disruptive behavior, relatively little is known about these processes in families with young children. The current study examines the overlap of the quality and frequency of psychological and physical forms of IPV and harsh parenting, and tests whether harsh parenting mediates the relationship between IPV and child disruptive behavior in a diverse cross-sectional sample of 81 children ages 4 to 6 years. Results suggest that mothers reporting a greater occurrence of psychologically aggressive IPV (e.g., yelling, name-calling) more often engage in psychological and physical aggression toward their children (odds ratios [ORs] = 4.6-9.9). Mothers reporting a greater occurrence of IPV in the form of physical assault more often engage in mild to more severe forms of physical punishment with potential harm to the child (ORs = 3.8-5.0). Psychological and physical forms of IPV and harsh parenting all significantly correlated with maternal reports of child disruptive behavior (r =.29-.40). Psychological harsh parenting partially mediated the association between psychological IPV and child disruptive behavior. However, a significant direct effect of psychological IPV on preschool children’s disruptive behavior remained. Implications for child welfare policy and practice and intervention, including the need for increased awareness of the negative impact of psychological IPV on young children, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2102-2126
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Volume31
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

Keywords

  • disruptive behavior
  • harsh parenting
  • intimate partner violence
  • psychological aggression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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