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Keywords:

  • parenting;
  • race;
  • school readiness;
  • socioeconomic status

This study examined the link between socioeconomic status (SES) and school readiness, testing whether parenting (maternal sensitivity and negative behavior/intrusiveness) and financial stress mediated this association and if race moderated these paths. Participants included 164 mother-child dyads from African American and European American families. Findings supported moderated mediation hypotheses: maternal sensitivity mediated the link between SES and school readiness for European Americans only; maternal negative/intrusive behaviors mediated the link between SES and school readiness for both European Americans and African Americans. These results indicate that the meaning and effects of parenting behaviors can vary by racial groups, and findings obtained for European American families cannot be assumed to apply to ethnic minority families as well. Among the implications of these findings is that programs aimed at increasing school readiness and closing the achievement gap need to be mindful of the cultural context in which children are raised.