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Pathways Among Exposure to Violence, Maternal Depression, Family Structure, and Child Outcomes Through Parenting: A Multigroup Analysis


concerning this article should be addressed to T’Pring R. Westbrook, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, Washington, DC 20447. Electronic mail may be sent to


The present study examined the impact of proximal (maternal depression, family structure) and distal (exposure to violence) risk factors on parenting characteristics (warmth, control), which were in turn hypothesized to affect child social-emotional functioning. Using the Family and Child Experiences Study (FACES) 2000 cohort, findings revealed that study variables were significant predictors of child social-emotional functioning. Despite limited significant pathways in the structural equation models, the cumulative effect of the variables resulted in models accounting for 21%–37% of the outcome. Multigroup analysis revealed that although the amount of variance explained varied, the model held across subgroups. Findings support theories such as the family stress model that suggest that family risk factors negatively influencing children’s development through influencing parenting behaviors. Findings also support considering both warmth and control as key parenting dimensions. It may be impractical for practitioners to address the myriad of potential risks encountered by low-income families, but parents can be equipped with mental health services, parent education, and other assistance to help them maintain positive parenting practices in the face of challenges.

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