In the wake of recent child-abuse cases, the Korean government released a parenting education package last March with the aim of teaching parenting skills and enhancing access to and specialization of parenting education. Accordingly, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family decided to designate a ‘parent education week’ every year starting in 2016 and run various programs to encourage active interest and participation. In order to empirically analyze the significance of the appropriate parental role, this study estimates how children’s cognitive and socio-emotional development are related to parental behavior (warmth and control) and stress, home environment, maternal depression and paternal involvement in child care. Additionally, the relationship between mothers’ early return to work and children’s cognitive and socio-emotional development is analyzed in recognition of the fact that a large number of Korean women with preschool children leave their careers to spend more time on child care and household duties. This may be of special interest to women who are considering having children or planning maternity leave or returning to work and as such, must be taken into account when developing policies for work-family balance, women’s labor participation and education. As far as is known, this is the first ever study conducted with regards to the relationship between child development and women’s return to the labor market and parents’ role after controlling the socio-economic characteristics of child and family. This study is significant as an interdisciplinary research project as economic methodology is applied to find the relationship between child development and mothers’ working hours and parents’ role while child psychology and development theory serves as the basis for selecting variables and interpreting analysis results. Unlike preceding studies outside Korea, which mostly focus on the quality of maternal care or the amount of paternal involvement, this study controlled the quantity of paternal involvement as well as the quality of maternal and paternal care. The empirical analysis applied the Ordinary Least Squares to estimate the relationship between the parental factors, such as the parents’ role and mothers’ working hours during the first year of birth and households’ socio-economic characteristics, and child development including receptive and expressive vocabulary, negative peer interaction and internal (anxiety, depression and withdrawal) and external (attention deficit and aggression) problem behaviors for the first 35-36 months. The analysis used the Panel Study on Korean Children, the only source covering the information on Korean children’s development index, parents’ roles and women’s labor force participation after child birth. Estimated results can be summarized as follows: First, mothers’ working hours for the first 6 months after child birth is positively related to the receptive vocabulary development of 35 to 43-month-old toddlers but is insignificantly related to 60 to 66-month-olds. Also, mothers’ working hours after 6 months of birth are negatively related to the negative peer interaction of 35 to 43-month-olds while mothers’ working hours from the 7 to 12-month are positively related. This finding implies that there may be a discrepancy in the unobserved parenting skills of three groups of mothers; those who return to work within 6 months, those who return within 7-12 months and those who do not return within the year. Additionally, considering that infants (9-12 months) exhibit higher levels of stranger and separation anxiety, it is very likely that mothers’ return to work between the 7 to 12-month period would have a more negative impact on infants’ emotional development than an earlier return. It has also been found that the relationship between mothers’ working hours and children’s receptive vocabulary or peer interaction is not the consequence of: mothers’ (returning to work) high education level; discontinued breastfeeding; increased household income; longer use of child care or education centers and surrogate caregivers; and the changes in the quality of parents’ role and quantity of paternal involvement in child care. This means that the relationship estimated may be the result of not controlling the characteristics related simultaneously to child development and mothers’ labor force participation. The Panel Study on Korean Children, however, does not offer data on mothers’ cognitive and socio-emotional ability and sibling-related data on the surveyed children such as development index, and hence it was impossible to estimate the causal relationship between child development and key variables while genetic maternal effects are controlled. Analysis of the relationship between parents’ socio-economic status and child development finds that the lesser education of parents is related to the lower development of children’s receptive and expressive vocabulary, but not to children’s socio-emotional abilities, such as peer interaction and internal and external problem behaviors. Household income is negatively related to the receptive vocabulary ability of 35 to 43-month-old toddlers and internal problem behavior of 48 to 54-month-olds. The negative relationship between household income and children’s receptive vocabulary ability could be influenced by how the ability was developed. Children’s receptive vocabulary ability is known to progress in proportion to the time exposed to vocabulary. In this context, children from high income parents who tend to spend more time on working than family communication may lack sufficient exposure. This study also looks into the relationship between parental role-related variables and child development and finds that mothers’ depression is positively related to the receptive vocabulary ability of 60 to 66-month-olds, negative peer interaction of 35 to 43-month-olds and internal and external problem behaviors of 48 to 54-month-olds and 60 to 66-month-olds. Mothers’ parenting stress is found be related to the negative peer interaction of 35 to 43-month-olds and aggravated internal and external problem behaviors of 48-54 month-olds and 60 to 66-month-olds. Meanwhile, paternal parenting stress is positively related to the receptive vocabulary ability of 60 to 66-month-olds and negative peer interaction of 35 to 43-month-olds. The receptive vocabulary ability of 60 to 66-month-olds positively related to mothers’ depression and fathers’ parenting stress seems to be driven by parents feeling depressed or stressed while trying to teach more vocabulary before school age. According to the estimated relevance between father’s parenting stress and child development, a lack of confidence in the parental role is positively related to children’s receptive vocabulary ability.
This analysis controlled parenting behaviors categorized into four types: high and low warmth and high and low control. According to the findings, mothers’ parental behavior is related to the receptive and expressive vocabulary ability and peer interaction of 35 to 43month-olds, receptive vocabulary ability of 60 to 66-month-olds and external problem behavior of 48 to 54-month-olds and 60 to 66-month-olds. Meanwhile, fathers’ parental behavior is related to the receptive vocabulary ability and internal and external problem behavior of 60 to 66-month-olds. Also, the relevance between children’s cognitive and socio- emotional development and mothers’ parental behavior varies depending on the age of the child. As for 60 to 66-month-olds, their receptive vocabulary ability is positively related to mothers’ high warmth and control experienced until 35 to 43-month-olds, and after that age the ability is negatively related to low warmth and high control. Their internal problem behavior is negatively related to mothers’ high warmth and control until 35 to 43-month-old, but afterwards in a strong negative relationship with high warmth and low control. The home environmental elements related to learning materials and physical safety are found to be positively related to the receptive vocabulary ability of 60 to 66-month-olds, while other home environmental elements representing the quality of parent-child communication positively related to the receptive vocabulary ability of 35 to 43-month-olds and 60 to 66-month-olds and negatively related to the negative peer interaction of 35 to 43-month-olds and internal problem behavior of 60 to 66-month-olds. Lastly, the frequency of paternal involvement in child care is found to be of little significance to children’s cognitive and socio-emotional development indices, such as receptive and expressive vocabulary ability, peer interaction and internal and external problem behaviors. These empirical findings present the following policy implications: Given the fact that parental behavior, stress, mothers’ emotional condition and home environment are connected to children’s cognitive development, improving parental roles could help lessen the positive relationship between parents’ education level and children’s cognitive ability. Also, children’s socio-emotional development related to peer interaction and internal and external problem behaviors are irrelevant to parents’ education level and household income, excluding the internal problem behavior of 48 to 54-month-olds negatively related to household income. This implies that contrary to the myth about the importance of parents’ socio-economic status in children’s socio- emotional development, the way that parents fulfill their roles could be much more important. Also, as socio-emotional ability could lead the development of cognitive ability, improving parents’ roles could help ease the positive relationship between parents’ education level and children’s cognitive ability. Furthermore, the quantity of paternal involvement in child care is irrelevant to child development. However, fathers’ unique parenting behavior is found to be related to the receptive vocabulary ability and internal and external problem behaviors of 60 to 66-month-olds, even after controlling the home environment variables that represent mothers’ parental behavior and parents’ child care ability. This implies that the increase in the quantity of paternal child care may not help enhance child development without accompanying the increase in quality. As for mothers’ parental behavior, high warmth and control until 35 to 43-month-olds is positively related to the receptive vocabulary ability of 60 to 66-month-olds, but after that age the ability is negatively related to mothers’ low warmth and high control. Also, high warmth and control experienced until 35-43 months is negatively related to external problem behavior. Meanwhile, after that age, high warmth and low control are much more negatively related. This means that it would be helpful to improve children’s cognitive and socio-emotional development when mothers’ parental behavior changes towards less control and more support to children’s autonomy as they grow up. Meanwhile, higher birth order is positively related to internal and external problem behavior, and the relationship between higher birth order and internal problem behavior is much stronger during 60-66 months than 48-54 months. This implies that children’s socio-emotional development could be enhanced if government intervention in parents’ roles is aimed at families with a small number of children or those with small children. These findings point to the policy implication that children’s cognitive and socio-emotional ability could be enhanced when expectant parents are given proper parental education to develop their parental role to suit the age of their children. The recent child abuse cases have compelled the government to act. Accordingly, the government has constructed a system that allows uniformed access to parental education by integrating the scattered parental education sources in Health Family Support Centers, Support Center for Childcare, Parents Service Center, etc. into the one organization named the “Parental School.” Each center has its own database on parental education which is diverse and vast, but these are mostly arranged in chronological order and different materials on similar themes are handled by different centers, making it difficult for parents to find the one that meets their child care needs. Parental education materials need to be categorized in detail, such as by the child’s age and parents’ care needs or problems, not by center or chronological order: tailored education that meets the needs of parents. If these materials are offered along with counseling programs, it could also help ease parents’ depression and stress, which would greatly improve the effects of parents’ roles. The government’s recent child abuse prevention measures include a counselor visiting program in which an expert visits vulnerable households and directly teaches parenting skills. The government’s parenting education package is now at the incipient stage, and mostly centers on preventing severe child abuse and neglect. As such, parents who are not covered by the counselor visiting program and do not voluntarily participate, even when they are experiencing difficulties with regards to their children’s eduction or their children are exhibiting developmental problems in their speech and socio-emotional abilities, may miss the opportunity to improve their parenting. For children to grow up healthy, parents must not only take care of the children’s physical health but also enhance their own abilities to provide their children with proper educational stimuli and communicate from the child’s perspective. Only when parents understand the characteristics of their children’s physical development and behaviors—age-dependent changes－can they obtain higher parenting efficacy and psychological stability to provide their children with timely and proper education that is in line with their children’s developmental stage. Furthermore, parents must be able to recognize the connection between parenting behaviors and children’s developmental problems and set a direction for improvement to strike a balance between compassion and sternness. The empirical analysis found no correlation between children’s socio-emotional ability and parents’ socio-economic status. Therefore, people from all social standings should remain attentive to improving their parenting abilities, including accurate child-rearing knowledge and better communication skills. Parents should be guided via diverse channels, such as daycare centers, nursery schools, hospitals and community health centers, to gain an understanding of how important their roles are in child development. They should be taught how to self-diagnose depression and parenting stress and behaviors, etc., about how to improve the home environment and interaction with children, and how to gain the necessary assistance. In addition, parenting education should be designed to provide small group counselling sessions in which experts can help parents with specific child-rearing issues so that they can improve their parenting skills. This study conducts an empirical analysis focusing on how child development is related to parents’ role and women’s early return to the labor market. In the policy context of work-family balance, the timing of women’s return after child birth is related to not only child development but also their accomplishments in the labor market, fertility rate and child poverty. They may return earlier if their caliber as a parent is enhanced as well as the quality of child care and education. In-depth analysis into the relevance between women’s post-childbirth economic activity and various policies targeting a work-family balance is left for future studies.
우리나라 영유아발달의 결정요인과 정책적 함의(Determinants of child development in Korea and policy implications)
세종 : 한국개발연구원
|Series Title; No||정책연구시리즈 / 2016-01|
|Subject Country||South Korea(Asia and Pacific)|
|Subject||Social Development < Education|