THE EFFECTS OF FAMILY SIZE ON PARENTING BEHAVIOR AND CHILD DEVELOPMENT

RACHEL ANN ROSALES PARR M.A. Psychology (June 2009) Department of Psychology


Abstract


The main concern of this exploratory study is to investigate the relationship between the variable family size (i.e. the number of children in the family) and the level of development of a child living in a local setting where the family income is on or below the poverty threshold. The study would like to look into “parental behavior” as a possible moderating variable in the relationship between family size and child development, if any.

The literature shows that a larger family could imply more children competing for parental time and resources (which are assumed to be scarce); thus adversely affecting the level of development of a child. Studies also exist suggesting a negative correlation between children’s intelligence levels and the variable for “family size’.


On the other hand, there are social scientists who argue that the socio-economic status of a family is the more reliable predictor for the direction of a child’s development based on the fact that there are relatively larger families wherein children are not necessarily at-risk for developmental set-backs.


A psychometric response scale was developed by the researcher in order to find out what possible components make up “parent behavior”. These components were meant to measure the level of the parent’s behavior in terms of how child-centered his or her methods and beliefs are. These methods and beliefs focused on the following aspects of parental behavior: disciplining through physical and non-physical ways of punishment; and nurturing. The initial parent behavior scale had 106 items and was pretested for internal consistency by administering it to 121 individual parents living in a low-income setting. Sixty of the parents for the pretest had 1 to 3 children and 61 had 4 or more children in the family.


The results of the pretest were subjected to tests for internal consistency. These tests involved; reliability tests, t-tests, and mean and standard deviation analysis. Forty (40) items were retained with a resulting alpha coefficient of .831. The items that survived the pretest formed the instrument to be used for the main part of the study. The 40-item scale was subjected to a Factor Analysis procedure in order to find out any underlying factors or relationships with the items of the scale. The factor analysis yielded 4 components, which were then analyzed for commonalities in the ideas they expressed. These 4 components formed the 4 hypothesized factors used in the main part of the study. The four factors were labeled as Aversive Methods, Verbal Methods, Quick-fix Methods, and Parent Involvement.


The Early Childhood Care and Development Checklist (ECCD) developed by Dr. Lourdes K. Ledesma, was used as the screening instrument for assessing the developmental level of each child between the ages 3 years and 1 month, and 5 years and 11 months. Each child was evaluated in terms of 7 identified domains: Gross Motor; Fine Motor; Self-help; Receptive Language; Expressive Language; cognitive; and Socio-emotional.


The study selected a sample of 60 parents or primary caregivers; half of which had 1 to 3 children while the other half had 4 or more children in the family. All parent and child respondents came from a low-income community in Quezon City. The scores of the Parent Behavior Questionnaire were analyzed using a t-test for any significant differences between the mean scores of larger-sized families (4 or more children) and smaller-sized families (1 to 3 children). Values for central tendency and dispersion were studied for descriptive purposes.


The scores of the ECCD checklist consisted of an overall score (Standard Score) and a domain score (Scaled Score). These scores were analyzed using the following tests: t-test for significant differences between larger-sized families and smaller-sized families; and bivariate correlation procedures. Values for central tendency and dispersion were also evaluated for descriptive purposes. The SPSS program was used for all statistical analyses carried out in the study.


The overall finding of the study support the main contention of the study-family size has significant effect on the development of a child in a low-income setting, as manifested in the Fine Motor, Expressive Language, Cognitive, and Socio-Emotional skills. The findings for the Parent Behavior Questionnaire indicate that there is no significant relationship between the behavior of a parent and the size of the family, based on the 4 hypothesized factors; in a low-income setting. This would imply that the effect of family size on child development is independent of Parent Behavior (as measured in the study) and possibly dependent on other variables.