The Roles of Engagement, Autonomy, and Relatedness in Maternal "Monitoring"

Hare, Amanda L., Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Allen, Joseph, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia

With substantive evidence suggesting that parental control is significantly less effective than is adolescent disclosure in protecting against problem behaviors (Eaton, Krueger, Johnson, McGue, & Iacono, 2009; Kerr & Stattin, 2000), one may conclude that parents‟ face a formidable task. This dissertation extends the literature by using a multimethod, multi-reporter, longitudinal design to examine the mechanisms through which these different facets of parental „monitoring‟ may be protective against subsequent adolescent problem behaviors, aiming to shed light on the reasons behind the apparent discrepancy in effectiveness. Results indicate that the relationship between maternal control and subsequent changes in adolescent problem behaviors may be domain specific. Specifically, findings underscore the importance of moderate levels of maternal control in early adolescence in order to prevent risky sexual behavior and substance abuse later in adolescence, but suggest that this strategy is likely not ideal for parents of adolescents who are at greater risk of developing hostility problems. Additionally, while maternal control does indeed predict decreases in adolescents‟ autonomy and relatedness over time, results suggest that this does not undermine the potential protective value of maternal control. Finally, this study provides preliminary evidence that, while adolescents‟ behavioral disclosure may be an effective avenue through which parents gain knowledge and prevent subsequent problem behaviors, emotional disclosure likely is not.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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