chapter  11
Socioeconomic Status, Ethnicity, and Parenting
WithBirgit Leyendecker, Robin L. Harwood, Lisa Comparini, Alev Yalçinkaya
Pages 24

The primary goal in this chapter is to contribute to our understanding of the relationship between SES and parenting across families from differing ethnic backgrounds as well as to differentiate between the effects of socioeconomic status (SES) and the effects of ethnicity on parenting. Paying attention to both SES and ethnicity as dimensions of parenting can help to identify the nature and the extent of variability in normative parenting. Particularly, we want to address issues of: (a) variability in normative parenting styles, and (b) the effects of SES on parenting within and across families from differing ethnic backgrounds. To what extent does SES influence parenting practices and are these effects similar across ethnic groups in the United States? In addition, we want to point out that due to the confound of SES and ethnicity in many studies, some features associated with ethnicity are valid and evident only for parents from a specific socioeconomic strata (e.g., parents living in poverty), yet these characteristics have been associated with the entire ethnic group. This is true both for majority and minority populations. Within the context of parenting and child development, SES matters for two reasons. First, some ethnic groups are more likely than others to experience persistent or temporary poverty and the detrimental effects associated herewith. Aside from lower levels of school achievement, these children are more likely to experience harsh, inconsistent parenting as well as elevated exposure to acute and chronic stressors

Birgit Leyendecker Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany

Alev Yalçnkaya University of Connecticut

(McLoyd, 1998). Second, the parenting styles considered to be most optimal for child development are very sensitive to both SES and ethnicity inasmuch as they are calibrated in Caucasian middle-to upper middle-class families whereas parenting styles practiced in lower SES families as well as in families from other ethnic backgrounds share many features with parenting styles considered to be less optimal (Chao, 1994). We begin the chapter by discussing methodological issues on how to measure and define SES and ethnicity. We then turn to the literature describing SES and parenting as well as ethnicity and parenting. Here, we will take a closer look at the construct of interdependence and independence as broad cultural orientations. We will conclude our chapter with a discussion of the association between optimal and less optimal parenting styles, SES, and ethnic background.