Contributions of Parenting Quality and Coparenting Relationship Quality to the Development of Child Executive Functioning

Lauren E Altenburger, Sarah J Schoppe-Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Executive functioning (EF) skills contribute positively to mental and physical health across the lifespan. High-quality parenting is associated with better child EF. However, research has largely focused on the contributions of mothers' parenting and failed to apply a family systems perspective to more comprehensively consider the consequences of parenting quality and coparenting relationship quality for the development of children's EF. This study examined the independent and joint contributions of mothers' observed parenting, fathers' observed parenting, and supportive coparenting during infancy to children's attention in toddlerhood (26 months) and aspects of EF (i.e., inhibitory control and impulsivity) at 7.5 years of age. Data came from a study of 166 families who participated in a larger longitudinal study. Assessments were conducted at 9-months postpartum (n = 158), 26-months postpartum (n = 114), and when children were 7.5 years of age (n = 100). Results indicated statistically significant associations between fathers' parenting quality at 9-months postpartum and greater child inhibitory control at 7.5 years of age. Mothers' parenting quality at 9-months postpartum was associated with better child attention in toddlerhood. Supportive coparenting was not directly associated with toddler or child EF. However, supportive coparenting moderated the association between fathers' parenting quality and child impulsivity, such that the adjusted effect of fathers' parenting on child impulsivity was negative when supportive coparenting was high. Findings highlight the importance of considering the development of child EF within a family systems framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-143
Number of pages11
JournalEarly Childhood Research Quarterly
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


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