Delinquent-oriented attitudes mediate the relation between parental inconsistent discipline and early adolescent behavior

J Fam Psychol. 2013 Apr;27(2):293-302. doi: 10.1037/a0031962.


Although substantial research supports the association between parental inconsistent discipline and early adolescent behaviors, less is understood on mechanisms underlying this relation. This study examined the mediating influence of delinquent-oriented attitudes in early adolescence. Using a longitudinal sample of 324 rural adolescents and their parents, findings revealed that inconsistent discipline in sixth grade predicted an increase in adolescent delinquent-oriented attitudes by seventh grade which, in turn, predicted both an increase in early adolescent antisocial behaviors and a decrease in socially competent behaviors by eighth grade. Therefore, it appears that accepting attitudes toward delinquency may in part develop from experiencing inconsistent discipline at home and may offer a possible explanation as to why early adolescents later engage in more antisocial and less socially competent behaviors. Findings may inform family-based preventive intervention programs that seek to decrease behavior problems and promote social competence in early adolescents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Attitude
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Juvenile Delinquency / psychology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Rural Population