This study was focused on contextual variations in the parenting
dimensions salient for preadolescent adjustment. The sample consisted of
614 sixth graders from two communities, one low and the other high income.
Parenting dimensions included those known to be significant in each
socioeconomic context: isolation from parents (emotional and physical),
and parents' emphasis on achievements (overall expectations and
emphasis on integrity over success). Adjustment outcomes included
subjective well-being as well as school competence. Contradicting
stereotypes, results showed that on average, very affluent children can
perceive their parents as emotionally and physically unavailable to the
same degree that youth in serious poverty do. The ramifications for
adjustment also seem to be largely similar: Closeness to parents was
beneficial for all, just as criticism was deleterious. Even after
considering the quality of parent–child relationships, parents'
physical absence (e.g., at dinner) connoted vulnerability for distress and
for poor school performance in both groups. The connotations of a few
parenting dimensions varied by context and gender; these variations are
discussed as are overall implications for future research and
practice.Preparation of the manuscript was
funded in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health
(RO1-DA10726, RO1-DA11498, R01-DA14385), the William T. Grant Foundation,
and the Spencer Foundation.