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 ::  Abstract
 ::  Introduction
 ::  Materials and Me...
 ::  Results
 ::  Discussion
 ::  Acknowledgments
 ::  References
 ::  Article Tables

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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 57  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 20-30

Impact of parenting practices on parent-child relationships in children with specific learning disability


Department of Pediatrics, Learning Disability Clinic, Lokmanya Tilak Municipal Medical College and General Hospital, Mumbai, India

Date of Submission17-Mar-2010
Date of Decision28-May-2010
Date of Acceptance15-Dec-2010
Date of Web Publication31-Jan-2011

Correspondence Address:
S Karande
Department of Pediatrics, Learning Disability Clinic, Lokmanya Tilak Municipal Medical College and General Hospital, Mumbai
India
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DOI: 10.4103/0022-3859.75344

PMID: 21220910

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 :: Abstract 

Background: Parents of children with specific learning disability (SpLD) undergo stress in coping up with their child's condition. Aims: To document the parenting practices of parents having a child with newly diagnosed SpLD and to analyze their impact on parent-child relationships. Settings and Design: Cross-sectional questionnaire-based study in our clinic. Materials and Methods: From May 2007 to January 2008, 150 parents (either mother or father) of children consecutively diagnosed as having SpLD were enrolled. Parenting practices and parent-child relationships were measured by the Alabama Parenting Questionnaire-Parent Form (APQ-PF) and the Parent Child Relationship Questionnaire (PCRQ), respectively. Statistical Analysis Used: Pearson correlation coefficients between subscales of APQ-PF and PCRQ were computed. Multiple regression analysis was carried out for statistical significance of the clinical and demographic variables. Results: Parents who were: (i) "involved" in parenting had a good "personal relationship and disciplinary warmth," (ii) practicing "positive parenting" had good "warmth, personal relationship and disciplinary warmth," (iii) "poorly supervising" their child's activities lacked "warmth and personal relationship," (iv) practicing "inconsistent discipline' had a higher "power assertion" and (v) practicing "corporal punishment" lacked "warmth" and had a higher "power assertion and possessiveness" in their relationships with their child. Parent being poorly educated or currently ill and child having all three types of SpLD present concomitantly or a sibling or a sibling with a chronic disability or being in class standard IX to XI were variables that independently predicted a poor parenting or parent-child relationship subscale score. Conclusions: The present study has identified parenting practices that need to be encouraged or excluded for improving parent-child relationships. Initiating these measures would help in the rehabilitation of children with SpLD.


Keywords: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, demographic factors, dyslexia, family, parent-child relations, parenting, questionnaires, scholastic backwardness, students


How to cite this article:
Karande S, Kuril S. Impact of parenting practices on parent-child relationships in children with specific learning disability. J Postgrad Med 2011;57:20-30

How to cite this URL:
Karande S, Kuril S. Impact of parenting practices on parent-child relationships in children with specific learning disability. J Postgrad Med [serial online] 2011 [cited 2014 Aug 21];57:20-30. Available from: http://www.jpgmonline.com/text.asp?2011/57/1/20/75344



 :: Introduction Top


Specific learning disability (SpLD) manifests in childhood as persistent difficulties in learning to read ("dyslexia"), write ("dysgraphia") or to do mathematics ("dyscalculia") despite normal intelligence, conventional schooling, intact hearing and vision, adequate motivation and sociocultural opportunity. [1],[2] These "seemingly normal" children fail to achieve school grades at a level that is appropriate for their intelligence. [1],[2] Their "academic problems" also have a long-term adverse impact on their self-image, peer and family relationships and social interactions. [1],[2] It is known that parents of children with SpLD are not aware of this hidden disability and undergo stress in coping with the child's condition. [3],[4] It is also well known that chronic stress can lead to negative parenting practices and adversely affect the parent-child relationships and outcomes.

We conducted the present study to document the parenting practices of parents having a child with newly diagnosed SpLD and to analyze the impact of these practices on parent-child relationships.


 :: Materials and Methods Top


Diagnosis of SpLD

All children were studying in English-medium schools and had been referred to our clinic for the assessment of academic underachievement or failure. Each child was assessed over a period of 2-3 weeks by a multidisciplinary team comprising of pediatrician, counselor, clinical psychologist and special educator. [1],[2] Only children more than 7 years of age were included in the study as a conclusive diagnosis of SpLD cannot be made till then. [1],[2] Unlike children having SpLD, some children are "normal late developers," who, by the age of 7 years, on their own outgrow their learning problems. [1],[2] Audiometric and ophthalmic examinations were performed to rule out non-correctable hearing and visual deficits (of >40% disability) as children with these deficits do not qualify for a diagnosis of SpLD. [1],[2] The pediatrician took a detailed clinical history and performed a detailed clinical examination. The counselor ruled out that emotional problem due to stress at home/school was not primarily responsible for the child's poor school performance. The clinical psychologist conducted the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised (Indian adaptation by M. C. Bhatt) to determine that the child's global intelligence quotient score was average or above average (≥85). [5]

Curriculum-based assessments are a recommended method of diagnosing SpLD. [2],[6] Employing a locally developed curriculum-based test, the special educator conducted the educational assessment in specific areas of learning, viz. basic learning skills, reading comprehension, oral expression, listening comprehension, written expression, mathematical calculation and mathematical reasoning. [2],[6] An academic achievement of 2 years below the child's actual school grade placement or chronological age in at least one area of academic achievement, such as reading, spelling or mathematics, was considered diagnostic of SpLD. [1],[2],[6] This test is a criterion-referenced test based on the Maharashtra education board curriculum followed in the schools of Mumbai. [2]

The diagnosis of co-occurring attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was made by the pediatrician and confirmed by the psychiatrist by ascertaining that the child's specific behaviors met the DSM-IV-R criteria. [7] The demographic characteristics of each child and parent were noted and the modified Kuppuswami's classification was used to determine the family's socioeconomic status. [8],[9]

Sample size and parent enrolment

It was assumed that 10% of the Indian children have SpLD. With a 95% confidence level and a 5% confidence interval, the sample size was calculated using the standard formula:



[Z = 1.96 (Z-value for 95% confidence level); P = 0.1 (10% prevalence, expressed as decimal); C = 0.05 (confidence interval, expressed as decimal)]. The sample size calculated was 138 parents. However, we included the first consecutive 150 parents (either mother or father) who could read and understand English and were willing to participate in the study. Thus, the power of analysis for the present study was >95%.

Each parent was given the Alabama Parenting Questionnaire-Parent Form (APQ-PF) and then the "brief version" of the Parent-Child Relationship Questionnaire (PCRQ) to complete in a quiet secluded room during his/her last visit to our clinic, but before the child's diagnosis was informed. [10],[11] In case both parents were present, only one of them individually completed the questionnaire, with no specific preference for mother or father. Although there was no specified time limit, the parent completed these two self-administered questionnaires in about 30-40 min. This study was conducted from May 2007 to January 2008 and was approved by the scientific and ethics committees of our institution. All parents had signed an informed consent form to participate in the study. No parent who could read and understand English refused to participate in the study.

Documentation of parenting practices

The APQ-PF was used to document the parenting practices [Table 1]. [10] Parenting practices are specific behaviors that parents use to socialize their children. [12] The APQ-PF was designed to assess those dimensions of parenting practices that research has linked to disruptive behavior disorders in children. [10] This questionnaire documents the five characteristics of parenting practices, namely: involvement (parent participating in the educational processes and experiences of their children), positive parenting (parent being loving, understanding, reasonable and protective), poor monitoring/supervision (parent does not know or supervise the child's academic and social schedule), inconsistent discipline (parent is inconsistent in disciplinary practices) and corporal punishment (parent spanks or hits the child as punishment). [10] The APQ-PF requires parents to respond to each of the 42 items as to how often each parenting practice "typically" occurs in their home on a five-point Likert scale ranging from: 1 = never; 2 = almost never; 3 = sometimes; 4 = often; to 5 = always. Internal consistency (as measured by Cronbach alpha coefficient) for all subscales except "corporal punishment" are moderate to high (ranging from "involvement," alpha = 0.80; "positive parenting," alpha = 0.80; "poor monitoring/supervision," alpha = 0.67 and "inconsistent discipline," alpha = 0.67). [10] Although the "corporal punishment" subscale has a lower internal consistency (alpha = 0.46), its validity is suggested by its negative correlations with child's age and socioeconomic status and its ability to distinguish normal and disturbed families. [10]
Table 1: Summary of subscales in the APQ-PF: Interpretation of low and high scores[7]

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Documentation of the quality of parent-child relationships

The 40-item "brief version" of PCRQ was used to document the parent-child relationships [Table 2]. [11] This questionnaire documents the five characteristics of the parent-child relationship, namely warmth (affection, admiration of parent, admiration by parent), personal relationship (companionship, nurturance, intimacy), disciplinary warmth (praise, shared decision making), power assertion (quarrelling, dominance, deprivation of privilege) and possessiveness (protectiveness and possessiveness) [Table 2]. [11] The PCRQ requires parents to respond to each item on a five-point Likert scale ranging from 1 = hardly at all, 2 = not too much, 3 = somewhat, 4 = very much to 5 = extremely much. Furman and Giberson have documented that the three subscales, "warmth," "personal relationship" and "power assertion" have high levels of internal consistency (alpha > 0.85). [11] Internal consistency for mothers reports about their children on the five PCRQ subscales have been shown to be between 0.71 and 0.83. [13] The PCRQ subscales have also been shown to be significantly related to observed parenting behaviors and discipline strategies in children with ADHD. [14]
Table 2: Summary of subscales in PCRQ: Interpretation of the low and high scores[8]

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Data analysis

The data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences, Version 15 for Windows (SPSS, Chicago, IL, USA). First, the mean scores (±SD) for each of the five subscales of the APQ-PF and for each of the five subscales of the PCRQ of the study parents were computed as per the standard guidelines provided by their principal developers, Professor Paul J. Frick and Professor Wyndol Furman, respectively. Second, the internal consistency for all subscales of the APQ-PF and the PCRQ were computed. Third, the correlation coefficients (as measured by Pearson r) between the subscales of the APQ-PF and the PCRQ were computed. Fourth, the independent samples t-test or the one-way analysis of variance test were used as applicable to evaluate the impact of each of the clinical and demographic variables on the subscale scores of the APQ-PF and the PCRQ. Then, multivariate analysis was performed using the ordinal regression method for determining the "independent" impact that each of the clinical and demographic ("categorical") variables had on a poor APQ-PF or PCRQ subscale score "outcome." Accordingly, each "positive" APQ-PF or PCRQ subscale score were dichotomized into "poor" score (score of ≤mean -1 SD) or "good" score (score of > mean -1 SD), and used as "dependent variables" in the models. Similarly, each "negative" APQ-PF or PCRQ subscale score were dichotomized into "poor" score (score of ≥mean +1 SD) or "good" score (score of < mean +1 SD) and used as "dependent variables" in the models.

Wherever appropriate, the odds ratio (OR) was calculated and the 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated around the OR. P-values < 0.05 (two-tailed) were taken as statistically significant.


 :: Results Top


Characteristics of the study children

Their mean age was 12.8 years (SD 2.5, range 7.04-18.05). The boy to girl ratio was 2.4:1. Their mean global intelligence quotient score was 103.6 (SD 11.3, range 86.0-144.0). The majority (68.0%) of the children were studying in schools affiliated to the state government of Maharashtra educational board and the remaining (32.0%) were studying in schools affiliated to a national educational board, viz. 37 (24.7%) in Indian Certificate of Secondary Education board-affiliated schools and 11 (7.3%) in Central Board of Secondary Education board-affiliated schools. Parents stated that 87 (58%) children had one or more associated "non-academic" problem(s). The causes mentioned were behavioral problems, such as aggressive behavior, temper tantrums and stubbornness in 43, anxiety problems in 22, depressive thoughts in nine, recurrent upper respiratory tract infections in eight, nocturnal enuresis/asthma/obesity in six each and epilepsy/joint pains in four each. Other details of clinical and demographic characteristics are given in [Table 3].
Table 3: Clinical and demographic characteristics of children (n = 150)

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Parental characteristics

Their mean age was 41.6 years (SD 5.7, range 29.01-68.06). The mother:father ratio was 1.7:1. Eighteen (12%) parents stated that they were "currently ill." The causes mentioned were bronchial asthma (by three), anxiety, backache, diabetes and hypertension (two each) and migraine (one). Other details of clinical and demographic characteristics are given in [Table 4].
Table 4: Clinical and demographic characteristics of parents (n = 150)

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APQ and PCRQ scale scores of the study parents

The mean scores (±SD) of the study parents on the APQ-PF and PCRQ are given in [Table 5]. There were no missing data for the APQ-PF and the PCRQ items.
Table 5: APQ-PF and PCRQ scale scores of study parents (n = 150)

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Reliability of the APQ-PF and the PCRQ scores

Testing for reliability (internal consistency) involves estimating how consistently individuals respond to the items within a scale. [15] Where items within a scale measure different elements of patient experience (as in these two multidimensional tools), a moderate Cronbach alpha (i.e., approximately 0.5), rather than a high alpha (i.e. > 0.7), is expected. [15],[16] In the current study sample, internal consistency for all the APQ-PF subscales, except the "inconsistent discipline" subscale, was moderate to high (ranging from "involvement," alpha = 0.74; "positive parenting," alpha = 0.67; "poor monitoring/supervision," alpha = 0.74 and "corporal punishment," alpha = 0.65). The "inconsistent discipline" subscale had a lower internal consistency (alpha = 0.47).

In the current study sample, internal consistency for all PCRQ subscales was moderate to high (ranging from "warmth," alpha = 0.80; "personal relationship," alpha = 0.77; "disciplinary warmth," alpha = 0.60; "power assertion," alpha = 0.81 and "possessiveness," alpha = 0.61).

Correlations between the APQ-PF subscales' scores

[Table 6] shows the correlations between the APQ-PF subscales' scores for the whole sample. These can be used as another test of the convergent and divergent validity of the constructs. [15] There was a moderately strong relationship between the two "positive" subscales, indicating substantial overlap in these two constructs. The three "negative" parenting subscales showed positive but low correlations with each other, indicating a good divergent validity for these constructs.
Table 6: Correlations (Pearson r) between subscales of APQ-PF and PCRQ

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Correlations between the PCRQ subscales' scores

[Table 6] shows the correlations between the PCRQ subscales' scores for the whole sample. There was a moderate to highly strong relationship between the three "positive" subscales, indicating substantial overlap in these three constructs. There was also a moderately strong relationship between the "two" negative parent-child relationship subscales, indicating substantial overlap in these two constructs.

Association of parenting practices with parent-child relationships

[Table 6] shows the association of parenting practices with parent-child relationships in the study sample. The "positive" parenting subscale "involvement" showed a positive and significant association with the "positive" parent-child relationship subscales "personal relationship" and "disciplinary warmth" (both correlations were significant at P < 0.01), and the "positive" parenting subscale "positive parenting" showed a positive and significant association with the three "positive" parent-child relationship subscales "warmth," "personal relationship" and "disciplinary warmth" (all three correlations were significant at P < 0.01).

The "negative" parenting subscale "poor monitoring/supervision" showed a negative and significant association with the "positive" parent-child relationship subscales "warmth" (P < 0.05) and "personal relationship" (P < 0.01), and a positive and significant association with the "negative" parent-child relationship subscale "power assertion" (P < 0.01). The "negative" parenting subscale "inconsistent discipline" showed a positive and significant association with the "negative" parent-child relationship subscale "power assertion" (P < 0.01). The "negative" parenting subscale "corporal punishment" showed a negative and significant association with the "positive" parent-child relationship subscale "warmth" (P < 0.01), and a positive and significant association with the "negative" parent-child relationship subscales "power assertion" and "possessiveness" (both correlations were significant at P < 0.01).

Impact of demographic variables on parenting practices

At the univariate level, child gender being male, parent gender being male and parent age being ≥45 years were significantly associated with a "lower" "involvement" subscale score (mean difference: -2.1, df = 148, 95%CI: -4.09 to -0.19, P = 0.032; mean difference: -3.0, df = 148, 95% CI: -4.84 to -1.22, P = 0.001; and F = 4.503, df = 2,147, P = 0.013, respectively). Child having a sibling with a chronic disability/illness, belonging to the lower middle socioeconomic strata of society, parent being educated up to class standard XII/some college and parent being currently ill were significantly associated with a "lower" "positive parenting" subscale score (mean difference: -3.1, df = 96, 95% CI: -4.83 to -1.29, P < 0.001; F = 4.633, df = 2,147, P = 0.011; F = 5.817, df = 3, 146, P = 0.001; mean difference: -1.9, df = 148, 95% CI: -3.42 to -0.38, P = 0.015, respectively). Parental age ≥45 years and parent being educated up to or less than class standard X were significantly associated with a "higher" "poor monitoring/supervision" subscale score (F = 3.475, df = 2,147, P = 0.034; F = 4.703, df = 3,146, P = 0.004, respectively). Parent gender being female was significantly associated with a "higher" "inconsistent discipline" subscale score (mean difference: 1.1, df = 148, 95% CI: 0.01-2.21, P = 0.049). Parent gender being female and parent not working were significantly associated with a "higher" "corporal punishment" subscale score (mean difference: 1.06, df = 148, 95% CI: 0.32-1.80, P = 0.006; mean difference: 0.89, df = 148, 95% CI: 0.16-1.63, P = 0.018, respectively).

Multivariate analysis revealed that two variables, viz. child studying in standard IX to XI and parent educational status being up to class standard XII/some college "independently" predicted a "poor" "involvement" subscale score of ≤33.06 (P = 0.035, OR = 0.19, 95% CI: 0.04-0.89; P = 0.017, OR = 1.76, 95% CI: 1.11-2.82, respectively) [Table 7a]; four variables, viz. child not being an "only child," child having a sibling with a chronic disability/illness, parent being educated up to class standard X/some college and parent being currently ill "independently" predicted a "poor" "positive parenting" subscale score of ≤21.94 (P = 0.042, OR = 0.07, 95% CI: 0.01-0.91; P = 0.001, OR = 20.44, 95% CI: 3.18-131.56; P = 0.003, OR = 1.83, 95% CI: 1.22-2.73; P = 0.001, OR = 12.72, 95% CI: 2.72-59.42, respectively) [Table 7b] and, one variable, viz. child having all three types of SpLD present concomitantly "independently" predicted a "poor" "inconsistent discipline" subscale score of ≥20.44 (P = 0.028, OR = 0.21, 95% CI: 0.05-0.84) [Table 7c]. However, no variable on multivariate analysis predicted a "poor" "poor monitoring/supervision" subscale score [Table 7d] or a "poor" "corporal punishment" subscale score [Table 7e].
Table 7a: Multivariate logistic regression of clinical and demographic variables for prediction of poor APQ-PF "involvement" subscale score outcome of ≤33.06

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Table 7b: Multivariate logistic regression of clinical and demographic variables for prediction of poor APQ-PF "positive parenting" subscale score outcome of ≤21.94

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Table 7c: Multivariate logistic regression of clinical and demographic variables for prediction of poor APQ-PF "inconsistent discipline" subscale score outcome of ≥20.44

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Table 7d: Multivariate logistic regression of clinical and demographic variables for prediction of poor APQ-PF "poor monitoring/supervision" subscale score outcome of ≥27.81

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Table 7e: Multivariate logistic regression of clinical and demographic variables for prediction of poor APQ-PF “corporal punishment” subscale score outcome of ?8.71

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Impact of demographic variables on parent-child relationships

At the univariate level, child age being 10 to < 13 years and parent age being ≥45 years were significantly associated with a "lower" "warmth" subscale score (F = 3.871, df = 3,146, P = 0.011; F = 4.563, df = 2,147, P = 0.012, respectively); child gender being male, child not being a "first-born," parent age being ≥45 years and parent being educated up to or less than class standard X were significantly associated with a "lower" "personal relationship" subscale score (mean difference: -1.8, df = 148, 95% CI: -3.32 to -0.24, P = 0.024; mean difference: -1.9, df = 148, 95% CI: -3.32 to -0.38, P = 0.014; F = 3.639, df = 2,147, P = 0.029; F = 4.576, df = 3,146, P = 0.004, respectively). Family belonging to the lower middle socioeconomic strata of society, parent being educated up to or less than class standard X and parent being currently ill were significantly associated with a "lower" "disciplinary warmth" subscale score (F = 4.917, df = 2,147, P = 0.009; F = 6.325, df = 3,146, P < 0.001; mean difference: -1.5, df = 148, 95% CI: -2.81 to -0.15, P = 0.030, respectively). Child studying in class standard I to II, having one or more associated non-academic problem(s) and parent not working were significantly associated with a "higher" "power assertion" subscale score (F = 4.640, df = 3,146, P = 0.004; mean difference: 3.3, df = 148, 95% CI: 1.21-5.37, P = 0.002; mean difference: 3.1, df = 148, 95% CI: 0.99-5.21, P = 0.004, respectively).

Multivariate analysis revealed that only one variable, viz. child having a sibling with a chronic disability/illness "independently" predicted a "poor" "warmth" subscale score of ≤22.04 (P = 0.023, OR = 7.60, 95% CI: 1.32-43.77) [Table 8a]; only one variable, viz. parent being educated up to or less than class standard X "independently" predicted a "poor" "personal relationship" subscale score of ≤30.76 (P = 0.003, OR = 1.95, 95% CI: 1.25-3.04) [Table 8b] and, two variables, viz. child not being "first born" and parent being educated up to or less than class standard X "independently" predicted a "poor" "disciplinary warmth" subscale score of ≤18.64 (P = 0.043, OR = 4.56, 95% CI: 1.05-19.92; P < 0.001, OR = 2.49, 95% CI: 1.50-4.13, respectively) [Table 8c]. However, on multivariate analysis, no variable predicted a "poor" "power assertion" [Table 8d] or a "poor" "possessiveness" subscale score [Table 8e].
Table 8a: Multivariate logistic regression of clinical and demographic variables for prediction of poor PCRQ "warmth" subscale score outcome of ≤22.04

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Table 8b: Multivariate logistic regression of clinical and demographic variables for prediction of poor PCRQ "personal relationship" subscale score outcome of ≤30.76

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Table 8c: Multivariate logistic regression of clinical and demographic variables for prediction of poor PCRQ "disciplinary warmth" subscale score outcome of ≤18.64

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Table 8d: Multivariate logistic regression of clinical and demographic variables for prediction of poor PCRQ "power assertion" subscale score outcome of ≥38.43

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Table 8e: Multivariate logistic regression of clinical and demographic variables for prediction of poor PCRQ "possessiveness" subscale score outcome of ≥22.73

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 :: Discussion Top


To the best of our knowledge, the present study is the first study from India that has analyzed the impact of parenting practices on parent-child relationships in children with SpLD, and is the only one that has utilized reliable and validated instruments such as the APQ-PF and the PCRQ.

The present study documents that parents of children with SpLD who (i) "involve" themselves in parenting have a good "personal relationship and disciplinary warmth," (ii) practice "positive parenting" have good "warmth, personal relationship and disciplinary warmth," (iii) "poorly monitor or supervise" their child's activities lack "warmth and personal relationship," (iv) practice "inconsistent discipline" have higher "power assertion" and (v) practice "corporal punishment" lack "warmth" and have higher "power assertion and possessiveness" in their relationships with their child.

Multivariate analysis revealed that child ("adolescent") studying in standard IX to XI and parent educational status being up to class standard XII or some college are independent predictors of parents being "poorly involved" in their parenting responsibilities; child having a sibling or a sibling with a chronic disability or illness, parent being educated up to class standard XII or some college or parent being currently ill are independent predictors of a "poor" "positive parenting" subscale score; and, child having all three types of SpLD present concomitantly is an independent predictor of a "poor" "inconsistent discipline" subscale score. Multivariate analysis also revealed that child having a sibling with a chronic disability or illness is an independent predictor of a "poor" "warmth" subscale score; parent being educated up to or less than class standard X is an independent predictor of a "poor" "personal relationship" subscale score; and, child having a sibling or parent being educated up to or less than class standard X are independent predictors of a "poor" "disciplinary warmth" subscale score.

It has been well cited in the literature that parental involvement declines in adolescence. [17],[18] SpLD places a strain on the adolescent-parent relationship during an already challenging period. [18] It is important for parents of adolescents with SpLD to recognize the turbulence associated with adolescence and to be particularly supportive of their children as they navigate through this difficult time. [18] Support may include extra vigilance in setting time to talk with adolescent children, planning family evenings or outings and keeping in touch with adolescents' schooling experiences. [18] Parents with lower levels of education are known to display less-effective parenting. [19],[20],[21] Poorly educated parents tend to be less responsive to their children's emotional needs, engage their children less, provide a less-cognitively stimulating environment and do not explain their punishments. [19],[20],[21] Children who have a sibling have fewer financial resources available to them as well as less time with and attention from parents. [22] If the sibling also has a disability or chronic illness, this would place more stress on the parents and lead to less-effective parenting. The association between parental ill health (both physical and psychological) and parenting is well established. [23],[24] Parental ill health is known to lead to more family stress and parental depression, which in turn leads to less-effective parenting. [24] We have no proper explanation for why parents having a child with all three types of SpLD present concomitantly have significantly more "inconsistent discipline" parenting practices. This aspect needs detailed studies.

What is the utility of the present study? First, the present study has confirmed that "positive" parenting practices in children with SpLD lead to "positive" parent-child relationships and vice versa. Problems of children with SpLD go far beyond their academic skill deficit; they demonstrate affect disorders, a sense of loneliness, low self-esteem, high levels of anger and aggression. [25],[26] SpLD are associated with the risk for negative life outcomes, such as school dropout, juvenile delinquency, unemployment, social isolation and mental health problems. [27] The present study highlights the role of "positive" parenting practices in achieving "positive" parent-child relationships in such families. It is also known that, in general, a positive parent-child relationship helps children cope up with their academic difficulties, reduces psychological symptoms of distress in children and facilitates "long-term" successful academic adjustment and social adaptation. [28],[29] Second, although most parents of children with SpLD would need counseling to understand and cope up with their child's condition, the present study has identified the significant clinical and demographic variables that significantly impact parenting practices, viz. parent being poorly educated or currently ill; and, child having all three types of SpLD present concomitantly or a sibling or a sibling with a chronic disability or being in class standard IX to XI, which should be addressed by counselors right at the time of diagnosis of SpLD by counseling such parents in-depth over a few sessions. For example, our results indicate that parents with low-educational status and parents whose child ("adolescent") with SpLD is studying in higher class standards, viz. IX to XI, are "poorly involved" in their parenting responsibilities. Keeping this in mind, counselors should advice such parents to make efforts to become "better involved" parents [Table 1], as this would help improve "personal relationship and disciplinary warmth" in their relationships with their child [Table 2]. Also, a recent metaanalysis has documented that parental involvement has a significantly positive influence on the educational outcomes of urban secondary school children by raising the academic achievement from the current levels. [30] Similarly, parents with low-educational status, parents who are currently ill and parents whose child with SpLD has a sibling or a sibling with a chronic disability or illness should be counseled to make more efforts to practice "positive parenting" [Table 1], as this would help improve "warmth, personal relationship and disciplinary warmth" in their relationships with their child. Parents whose child has all three types of SpLD present concomitantly should be counseled to avoid "inconsistent discipline," as this would help prevent the development of "power assertion" in their relationship with their child [Table 2]. It is well known that good parent-child relationships are one of the most important factors that can favorably determine the outcome of SpLD in a school-going child. [1],[2] New research should be conducted to measure the effectiveness of these strategies.

Although the current study contributes to the literature in a number of ways, several limitations should be noted. First, we could not compare our study scores with any normative data as there are no population norms available for parenting practices or parent-child relationships of Indian parents. Second, after the parent had completed the APQ-PF and the PCRQ instruments, we did not personally interview him/her to collect any further detailed information, and this could have biased some of our results. [31] Third, the correlational nature of the present study does not allow us to determine causality between parenting practices and the development of parent-child relationships or vice versa. Future work should attempt to answer this question by employing a longitudinal design. Fourth, our study relied only on information obtained from parents, rather than from the children themselves, as most children with newly diagnosed SpLD have a limited reading ability to complete a questionnaire properly. It is possible that the perceptions of these children might have differed from those of their parents. Although parent-proxy tools are generally accepted as being reliable measures for the pediatric population, the value of the parent proxy as a straightforward substitute for the child's own rating can surely be challenged. [32] Parent-proxy ratings, particularly when combined with the child's own reported ratings, will reveal information over and above that provided by the current study. Future work should attempt this important but challenging task. Fifth, as vernacular (Marathi or Gujarati) versions of the APQ-PF and PCRQ instruments were not available, non-English-speaking parents were excluded from the study. However, our numbers of these parents were very small ( < 10). Sixth, parents from the lower socioeconomic strata of the society were not represented in our study population. Either their child's school authorities were not aware about SpLD or their parents were not motivated enough to bring their child to our clinic for assessment.

However, we do not believe that these limitations adversely affect the utility of our results, both due to the limitations as outlined above and the general paucity of data. Thus, there is a need for further study of this topic. Future research should address the following questions: Does socioeconomic status of children with SpLD influence their parenting and parent-child relationships? What are the parenting practices of children after they have been diagnosed with SpLD and have begun availing remedial education and provisions or accommodations at school? Do the parenting practices affect these children psychologically in their adult life?


 :: Acknowledgments Top


The authors would like to thank Professor D. P. Singh, Department of Research Methodology, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, for his help in the statistical analysis of the data and the parents who participated in the study. They would also like to thank Professor Paul J. Frick, Director, Applied Developmental Program, Department of Psychology, University of New Orleans, USA, and Professor Wyndol Furman, Director, The Relationship Center, Department of Psychology, University of Denver, USA. The material in this publication is the result of the use of their instruments, namely the Alabama Parenting Questionnaire Parent form and the Parent-Child Relationship Questionnaire, respectively, and their help in obtaining them free of cost is gratefully acknowledged.

 
 :: References Top

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    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6], [Table 7a], [Table 7b], [Table 7c], [Table 7d], [Table 7e], [Table 8a], [Table 8b], [Table 8c], [Table 8d], [Table 8e]

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