Parenting and Early Adolescent Internalizing: The Importance of Teasing Apart Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms

J Early Adolesc. 2013 Feb;33(2):201-226. doi: 10.1177/0272431611435261.


This community-based study examined differences in parenting quality and parent symptoms for youth in four categories: anxious (elevated anxiety symptoms), depressed (elevated depressive symptoms), comorbid (elevated anxiety and depressive symptoms), and nonelevated (elevations of neither type). Respondents were 976 young adolescents (mean age = 11.3) and their parents (912 mothers, 647 fathers) randomly selected from 28 rural/small town communities. Results indicated that depressed and comorbid groups were associated with significantly lower parenting quality and higher parent psychopathology compared to the nonelevated and anxious groups. This pattern was generally consistent across reporters (youth, mother, and father) and four domains of or related to parenting (support/warmth, conflict/anger, general child management (GCM), and parent psychopathology). Results highlight the importance of accounting for comorbidity when examining relationships between psychopathology symptoms and related variables such as parenting. Implications include the need to address relationships with parents when intervening with youth at risk for or experiencing elevated depressive symptoms.

Keywords: anxiety; comorbidity; depression; early adolescence; parenting.