Wait Until Your Father Gets Home? Mother's and Fathers' Spanking and Development of Child Aggression

Publication Year


Journal Article
This study examined whether fathers' and mothers' spanking contributed to development of child aggression in the first 5 years of life. We selected parents (N = 1,298) who were married or cohabiting across all waves of data collection. Cross-lagged path models examined fathers', mothers', and both parents' within-time and longitudinal associations between spanking and child aggression when the child was 1, 3, and 5 years of age. Results indicated that mothers spanked more than fathers. When examining fathers only, fathers' spanking was not associated with subsequent child aggression. When examining both parents concurrently, only mothers' spanking was predictive of subsequent child aggression. We found no evidence of multiplicative effects when testing interactions examining whether frequent spanking by either fathers or mothers was predictive of increases in children's aggression. This study suggests that the processes linking spanking to child aggression differ for mothers and fathers.
Children & Youth Services Review