Gansu Survey of Children and Families Dissertations

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

January 2003


A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Education of Harvard University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education.
Advisors: Gil G. Noam, Terry Tivnan, Emily Hannum


In this dissertation, guided by the conceptual framework of the ecological model, I investigated (1) the relationship between parental behaviors and children's psychological well-being in the contexts of family and community; and (2) the intermediate role that parental behaviors play in linking children's and other familial characteristics with children's mental health in a sample of 2000 children in rural northwest China. The hypotheses leading this study are that (1) the effects of parental behaviors on children's psychological adjustment differ depending upon familial and communal characteristics; (2) characteristics of children, families, and communities affect parenting behaviors, which, in turn, are directly linked to children's psychological adjustment. This dissertation is composed of a general introduction, three articles, and a general conclusion. Using multiple regression analysis, I inspected the relationships between parental behaviors and child psychological maladjustment in the first article. In the second article, multilevel regression analysis was used to examine the impacts of community SES and community environment of parenting on child maladjustment and on the parenting-child-development relationships. In the third article, I used structural equation modeling to test the mediating role of parental behaviors in connecting the paths from child characteristics and family variables to child internalizing and externalizing problems. Each article has its own abstract. This study is one of the first studies using a large-scale survey data to investigate the effect of parenting practices on children's psychological adjustment in a poor, rural population. The findings from this study not only contribute additional insight to our view of the variability that characterizes parental behaviors and children's developmental trajectories, but also serve as a guide for integrating family processes and communal contexts in prevention and intervention directed at children and adolescent psychological health in this under-studied population.



Date Posted: 25 November 2008

This document has been peer reviewed.