Mutual actions - Developmental links between aspects of the parent-adolescent relationship and adolescent risk behaviors
Author: Sabina Kapetanovic, HHJ
During adolescence youths spend more time away from parents’ direct
supervision which provides opportunities for engagement in risk behaviors
such as delinquency and substance use. The overall aim of the dissertation was to investigate how parent- and adolescent-driven communication efforts
occurring in the parent-adolescent relationship relate to risk behaviors in early
to mid-adolescence. The concepts of parental knowledge and its sources
(parental solicitation, parental behavioral control, and adolescent disclosure),
parent-adolescent connectedness, parental self-efficacy, adolescent
temperament and gender were included in the studies. All participants were
recruited from the Swedish Longitudinal Research Program on Development
In Adolescence (LoRDIA) and were in early- to mid-adolescence.
In Study I, cross-sectional associations between parental knowledge and its
sources and adolescent delinquency, bullying and substance use were
investigated among 1520 early adolescents. Structural path analysis showed
that adolescent disclosure was informative to parents and both directly and
indirectly, through parental knowledge, negatively linked to adolescent risk
behaviors. Parental behavioral control was negatively linked to adolescent
substance use while parental solicitation and adolescent feelings of being
overly controlled were positively linked to adolescent risk behaviors. This was
particularly true for boys.
In Study II, the associations among parent-reported
parent-adolescent connectedness, parental self-efficacy, parental knowledge
and its sources and their longitudinal links to adolescent self-reported
delinquency and substance use were investigated in a sample of 550 parentearly adolescent dyads. Adolescent disclosure, parental solicitation, and
parental behavioral control predicted parental knowledge. Adolescent
disclosure was directly and indirectly related to lower levels of adolescent risk
behaviors. Parental self-efficacy and parent-adolescent connectedness were
indirectly linked to higher levels of parental knowledge and its sources, as
well as to lower levels of substance use and delinquency.
In Study III, the moderating effect of adolescent temperament type on longitudinal links among parental knowledge, its sources, and substance use was investigated among 1373 early adolescents. Five distinct temperament types were found. The bidirectional link between adolescent disclosure and substance use, and the link between parental solicitation and adolescent substance use differed depending on adolescent temperament type. In Study IV, also longitudinal, the links among parental behavioral control, parental solicitation, adolescent disclosure, and delinquency were investigated at the within-family and the between-family level among 1515 early to mid-adolescents. Within-family, cross-lagged effects showed that adolescent disclosure was reciprocally related to both parental solicitation and adolescent delinquency, parental behavioral control negatively predicted adolescent delinquency, and parental solicitation negatively predicted parental control.
The findings suggest that both parents and adolescents actively contribute to
parent-adolescent relationships and whether or not adolescents engage in risk
behaviors. Reciprocal processes occur within families between aspects of
parent-adolescent communication and adolescent delinquency, in which
especially adolescent disclosure plays a prominent role. What effect aspects
of parent-adolescent communication have on adolescent behavior can,
however, differ depending on individual adolescent characteristics.
This research is financed by:
Swedish Research Council, Forte, Vinnova, Formas.