Interest in the role that parenting assumes in child obesity has increased the need for valid and reliable screening tools that are specific for populations targeted by programming efforts. While low-income families comprise a large audience for Cooperative Extension obesity prevention programs, valid and reliable selfadministered parenting assessments for this population are lacking. Development of such tools requires understanding low-income parents’ interpretations of questions related to their parenting. The current paper reports on interviews conducted with low-income parents (N = 44) of 3- to 5-year-old children during the development of a tool to assess parenting in the context of feeding. Interviews revealed areas of potential discrepancy between parents’ and researchers’ interpretations of items that may affect parents’ responses and subsequent measurement validity when used in Cooperative Extension community intervention setting. Three themes emerged that may interfere with valid and reliable assessments of constructs: fear of being labeled a “harsh parent,” response bias due to previous knowledge, and discrepancy in interpretation of the intended construct. Results highlight complexities of constructing parent-report assessments of parenting for low-income audiences, and potential hazards of using research-focused tools with high respondent burden. Guidelines for educators assessing parents’ feeding behaviors are presented.



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