Graduation Year

2003

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Brandon, Karen Obremski

Keywords

parenting, fairness, child adjustment, siblings, diabetes

Abstract

We studied perceptions parental differential treatment as reported by parents and children in two different settings. Perceptions of differential affection and control were examined in healthy families and in families that include a child diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Parental differential treatment was assessed using questionnaires that measured perceptions of absolute parenting for children and their siblings. Difference scores were subsequently utilized to generate perceived parental differential treatment scores. Participants were 61 parents (half with healthy children, half with one child who has diabetes) and 62 children (half comprising sibling pairs unaffected by any medical problems, half including one child with Type 1 diabetes). Children within the sibling pairs were between 11 and 18 years of age and approximately two years apart, on average.

Parents were also asked about their children's emotional/behavioral adjustment and adherence to prescribed medical regimen (in the diabetes group), and their levels of parenting stress. Children were also administered measures regarding their emotional/behavioral adjustment, average adherence (in the diabetes group), and perceptions of deservedness of parental treatment perceived. No differences in strength of correlations between ratings of parental differential treatment and child adjustment iv were detected across groups. Significant differences, however, emerged with regard to type of perceived parental differential treatment that related to child adjustment scores across groups. Relationships were also detected between perceived parental differential treatment and ratings of adherence and measures of glycemic control in the diabetes group.

Perceived deservedness as rated by children, ratings of absolute parenting, and parenting stress were observed to moderate the relationship between ratings of parental differential treatment and child adjustment. Parental differential treatment scores predicted unique variance in reported child behavior problems above and beyond that predicted by absolute parenting measures. Differences in relationships across groups, the role of gender, and the importance of context and family in studying perceptions of parental differential treatment and child adjustment are discussed.

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