The quality of mothers’ solutions to child-rearing problems: what difference does setting internal or external to the family make?
In this study we examined the difference the setting of a child-rearing problem, either internal or external to the family, made for mothers’ generation of solutions likely to assist a child’s development of problem-solving competencies. In addition, the direct effect of a mother’s personal resources (age, education, number of children parented, and verbal ability) and the direct and mediating effect of the extent to which a mother took the child’s perspective on her generation of assistive solutions were explored. Adult mothers (n = 128) of children ranging in age from 1 month to 18 years were interviewed by telephone concerning eight hypothetical child-rearing problems. Mothers generated a greater proportion of assistive solutions and took the child’s perspective more often for external problems than for internal problems. For internal problems, a mother’s verbal ability made a significant contribution to the proportion of assistive solutions generated. For external problems, number of children made a significant negative contribution. For external problems, perspective taking had a mediating effect on the relationship of number of children with the proportion of assistive solutions generated. The nature of a mother’s perspective taking and the function that it has in solution generation for child-rearing problems merit exploration.