Factors Associated with Good and Harsh Parenting of Pre-Adolescents and Adolescents in Southern Africa

Type Report
Title Factors Associated with Good and Harsh Parenting of Pre-Adolescents and Adolescents in Southern Africa
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
URL https://ideas.repec.org/p/ucf/inwopa/inwopa870.html
Background: There is limited research on the factors associated with parenting and the subsequent
outcomes for children and adolescents in southern Africa. Evidence from the global north shows the
importance of parenting on child development.There is a pressing need for such research in the global
south, in order to inform the development of effective interventions to support families.
Method:This working paper presents findings from the analyses of two different observational studies of
caregiver-pre-adolescent (4-13 years, referred to as the ‘pre-adolescent study’) and caregiver-adolescent
(10-17 years, referred to as the ‘adolescent study’) dyads. Regression and structural equation modelling
techniques are used to identify practices constituting good and harsh parenting, factors associated with
these parenting behaviours and child and adolescent outcomes.
Results: Poverty and stigma were found to be negatively associated with good parenting of pre-adolescents
whilst biological parents, depression and multiple adults within a household were positively associated.
Good parenting in pre-adolescents was associated with fewer educational risks and behavioural problems
as well as increased self-esteem, mediated by child trauma and depression. In adolescents, family
disadvantage (poverty, AIDS-ill caregiver and caregiver disability) were found to be associated with an
increase in harsh parenting and poor caregiver mental health, both of which were associated with
increased adolescent health risks.
Conclusion:These findings show the importance of parenting for pre-adolescent and adolescent outcomes
in southern Africa.They also show that structural disadvantage factors are major predictors of less good
parenting. Better support for parents living in high-risk contexts is clearly essential if we are to promote the
health and well-being of the next generation.
Acknowledgements: The authors would like to thank Jasmina Byrne and Heidi Loening from UNICEF
Office of Research – Innocenti for their support and guidance in preparing this paper. We are also grateful
to the external peer reviewers who provided valuable insights and comments: Professor Rajen Govender,
University of CapeTown, Professor Lorraine Radford, University of Central Lancashire and Dominic
Richardson, UNICEF Innocenti. Last but not least, our sincere thanks go to all the families and children
who participated in the research, the brilliant fieldwork research teams, and Alice Redfern, Sarah Hoeksma
and Colleen Kelly.

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