Parental knowledge is an environmental influence on adolescent externalizing

Kristine Marceau, Jurgita Narusyte, Paul Lichtenstein, Jody M. Ganiban, Erica L. Spotts, David Reiss, Jenae M. Neiderhiser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background There is evidence both that parental monitoring is an environmental influence serving to diminish adolescent externalizing problems and that this association may be driven by adolescents' characteristics via genetic and/or environmental mechanisms, such that adolescents with fewer problems tell their parents more, and therefore appear to be better monitored. Without information on how parents' and children's genes and environments influence correlated parent and child behaviors, it is impossible to clarify the mechanisms underlying this association. Method The present study used the Extended Children of Twins model to distinguish types of gene-environment correlation and direct environmental effects underlying associations between parental knowledge and adolescent (age 11-22 years) externalizing behavior with a Swedish sample of 909 twin parents and their adolescent offspring and a US-based sample of 405 White adolescent siblings and their parents. Results Results suggest that more parental knowledge is associated with less adolescent externalizing via a direct environmental influence independent of any genetic influences. There was no evidence of a child-driven explanation of the association between parental knowledge and adolescent externalizing problems. Conclusions In this sample of adolescents, parental knowledge exerted an environmental influence on adolescent externalizing after accounting for genetic influences of parents and adolescents. Because the association between parenting and child development originates in the parent, treatment for adolescent externalizing must not only include parents but should also focus on altering their parental style. Thus, findings suggest that teaching parents better knowledge-related monitoring strategies is likely to help reduce externalizing problems in adolescents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-137
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Volume56
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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