Full Program »
103. Bidirectional influences between conflictual parent-child relationship and adolescent externalizing behavior problems
Externalizing behavioral problems during adolescence may contribute to social maladjustments that persist into adulthood. Previous studies have consistently emphasized the role of parenting factors in contributing to the development of youth externalizing (unidirectional models), with less emphasis on the role of youth’s externalizing in influencing parenting behaviors (bidirectional models). Few studies have tested bidirectional models in samples of boys and girls. This study examined bidirectional relations between parent-child conflict and child externalizing symptoms among a sample of youth recruited in grades 6 and 9 (N=473, 57.3% females, M[SD]age = 13.34[1.57]). At baseline (T1) and 18 months later (T2), children reported on conflicts with parents with the Network of Relationships Inventory and parents reported on child externalizing symptoms with the Child Behavior Checklist. Greater parent-child conflict at T1 predicted higher levels of child externalizing symptoms at T2 (b=.12; p<.001), controlling for externalizing symptoms at T1. Child externalizing symptoms at T1 did not significantly predict parent-child conflict at T2 (b=.08; p=.06), controlling for parent-child conflict at T1. Findings support a unidirectional association between conflictual parent-child relationships and youth externalizing such that conflictual parent-child relationships prospectively predict youth externalizing, but not vice versa.