Household Chaos as a Moderator of the Link Between Parents’ Inhibitory Control and Parenting Quality

Lauren E. Altenburger, Bharathi J. Zvara, Reed Donithen, Sarah J. Schoppe-Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study considered how mothers’ and fathers’ inhibitory control, an aspect of executive functioning (EF) that reflects how well an individual can suppress a dominant response to perform a subdominant response, is associated with observations of their parenting quality when children were 7.5 years old. Furthermore, aspects of the daily home environment may strengthen or undermine parents’ ability to draw on their inhibitory control and exhibit high-quality parenting. Household chaos, including clutter, confusion, and ambient noise, may impair parents’ ability to successfully activate inhibitory control and engage in high-quality parenting. Thus, additional analyses examined whether parents’ perceptions of household chaos moderated associations between inhibitory control and parenting. Data came from a sample of approximately 102 families headed by different-sex parents (n = 99 mothers; n = 90 fathers) of 7.5-year-old children who participated in a study of family development. Findings from multilevel models indicated that inhibitory control predicted greater positive-sensitive parenting in contexts of low household chaos. Associations between inhibitory control and parenting quality were not statistically significant in contexts of average or high household chaos. These findings highlight the importance of considering household chaos and inhibitory control as factors associated with parenting quality for fathers and mothers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)614-623
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 18 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology

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