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Mother-Child and Father-Child Relationships in Middle Childhood

Graeme Russell and Alan Russell
Child Development
Vol. 58, No. 6 (Dec., 1987), pp. 1573-1585
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1130696
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1130696
Page Count: 13
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Mother-Child and Father-Child Relationships in Middle Childhood
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Abstract

This article reports a combined interview and observation study of parent-child relationships in families with an eldest child aged 6-7 years (N = 57). Interview data focused on time spent with children, performance of child-need tasks, and frequency of parent-child interactions. Parent and child behaviors during a 1½-hour home observation were coded into 20 categories, and ratings were made of affective reactions to these behaviors. Analyses revealed that mothers interacted with their children more, were more directive, and were more involved in caregiving, whereas fathers' interactions occurred more frequently in the context of play. Mothers, however, were not found to be more responsive to their children, and fathers were not more negative or restrictive. Significant interactions were not found between sex of parent and sex of child. Implications are examined for theoretical analyses of mother/father differences, generalizations from observational data, and for multimethod approaches.

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