Parent-adolescent relationships and adolescent pubertal development

Bennion, Layne Dee , Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Hetherington, E. Mavis, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Patterson, Charlotte, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia

This study investigated the longitudinal and cross sectional relationship between three composite measures of parenting behaviors (negativity, positivity and control) and the pubertal development of adolescents. Approximately 400 families consisting of a mother, father and adolescents comprised the sample. Data was collected in two waves two to two-and-one-half years apart. Important grouping variables included family type (stepfamilies and nondivorced families), adolescent gender and timing of puberty for females. Exploratory analyses were conducted to compare biological parent-adolescent relationships versus stepparent-child relationships. Behavioral composites of each parent's behavior toward the target adolescent were constructed based on mother, father, adolescent and observer reports.

Curvilinear relationships between the parenting composites and pubertal development were expected and directly tested via difference scores. For example, negativity was hypothesized to increase during early pubertal development and decrease during later stages of pubertal development. Support for curvilinear patterns was found for maternal negativity and somewhat for paternal positivity and control in some family groups. A consistent and robust wave effect indicated increased parental negativity, decreased positivity and decreased control over p time. Family type differences indicated higher negativity and lower positivity for adolescents in stepfamilies as compared to teenagers in nondivorced homes. The importance of including biologically versus nonbiologically related dyads when examining family relationships was supported in a variety of ways.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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