Parents do matter: trajectories of change in externalizing and internalizing problems in early adolescence

Child Dev. Mar-Apr 2003;74(2):578-94. doi: 10.1111/1467-8624.7402017.


This study examined the relative influence of three parenting behaviors (support, behavioral control, and psychological control) and deviant peers on trajectories of externalizing and internalizing problems in early adolescence. A white, working-to-middle-class sample of adolescents and their mothers and fathers in two-earner families participated in a 32-year longitudinal study (N = 109 families). The study began when the adolescents were in sixth grade (M age = 11.5 years). Analyses showed that parents' firm behavioral control seemed to halt the upward trajectory in externalizing problems among adolescents with deviant peers. Initial levels of internalizing problems were higher among adolescents with parents who reported lower levels of behavioral control and among adolescents with deviant peers. This study suggests that parenting exerts an important influence in adolescents' lives and may do so even in the face of potentially negative peer influence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parenting
  • Parents*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires