Dyadic Profiles of Parental Disciplinary Behavior and Links With Parenting Context

Using data from couples (N = 1,195) who participated in a large community-based study of families, we used maternal reports of parental discipline to examine mothers' and fathers' use of and patterns related to aggressive and nonviolent discipline of their 3-year-old child. First, we separately examined mothers' and fathers' patterns, or classes, of disciplinary behaviors. Second, we identified joint mother-father class profiles. Maternal reports indicated that the patterns among fathers and mothers were similar, but fathers were more likely to be in the low-aggression classes than mothers; and mothers were more likely to be in the high-aggression classes than fathers. Dyads in which both parents employed high levels of aggressive discipline were characterized by higher parenting stress, poorer parental relationship, and lower quality community context. The majority (81.2%) of dyads used congruent disciplinary behaviors. Discordant dyads were similar to dyads in which both parents were high in aggressive discipline, in that these groups had children with the highest levels of aggressive behavior. Implications highlight the need to target both mothers and fathers with parent education efforts to reinforce positive parenting.