Date of Award

Spring 2001

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Kathleen McCartney


Although there is considerable evidence that parenting influences the behavioral, cognitive, emotional, and social development of children, the effects of some parenting behaviors may not be universal. In the present study, child ethnicity, family socioeconomic status, neighborhood quality (i.e., crime and median income), and cumulative risk (i.e., composite of family socioeconomic status and neighborhood quality) were modeled as potential moderators of associations between parenting (i.e., maternal sensitivity and traditional values) and four child outcomes (i.e., behavior problems, depression, loneliness, and school performance). Pathways of mediation for these parenting measures were also explored. In addition, age trends in neighborhood effects were examined. Neighborhood quality moderated the effects of traditional parenting values and cumulative risk moderated the effects of maternal sensitivity. More specifically, high levels of traditional parenting values were associated with positive outcomes for children who lived in poor quality neighborhoods and negative outcomes for children who lived in high quality neighborhoods. Further, high levels of maternal sensitivity were associated with positive outcomes for children who lived in high-risk contexts, but were either not associated with or were negatively associated with positive outcomes for children who lived in low-risk contexts. However, maternal perceptions of the environments in which their families lived did not mediate associations between context and parenting. In addition, there was little evidence of age trends in the strength of neighborhood effects. The developmental science and clinical relevance of these findings is discussed.