We examined the associations among parenting, children’s moral emotions, and children’s prosocial behaviors toward Black peers and White peers.
Parenting practices inform children’s prosocial behaviors; however, the contextual and individual factors that predict children’s differentiated prosocial behaviors have been understudied.
Participants were 190 White children (5.4 to 8.91 years old, 45.8% female) and their primary parents. Parents reported parenting practices. Children’s prosocial behaviors were assessed through distribution tasks; children’s sympathy and empathic anger were observed in response to films that depicted injustice toward others.
Nurturant parenting positively predicted, whereas restrictive parenting negatively predicted, children’s prosocial behaviors toward diverse others. Additionally, parenting predicted children’s prosocial behaviors toward Black peers only when children expressed low levels of empathic anger toward victimized Black peers.
Overall, nurturant parenting is positively related, and restrictive parenting is negatively related, to children’s prosocial behaviors toward different targets. Children’s target-specific empathic anger moderated the relation of specific parenting practices to children’s prosocial behaviors toward racial outgroup peers.
White parents should understand the way that restrictive parenting might impede children’s generosity toward diverse others and engage in nurturant parenting, especially when children do not naturally feel concerned about distressed outgroup members.