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Dev Psychol. 1997 Jul;33(4):657-68.

Gender-specific pathways between maternal depressive symptoms, family discord, and adolescent adjustment.

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  • 1Research Institute on Addictions, Buffalo, New York.


Relations among maternal depressive symptoms, family discord, and adolescent psychological adjustment were examined in a sample of 443 middle adolescents and their mothers. Histories of maternal depressive symptoms, gathered at 3 occasions with 6-month intervals, were related to subsequent adolescent reports of depressive symptoms, conduct problems, and academic difficulties for girls but not for boys. Mediational tests indicated that girls' greater vulnerability to family discord (e.g., marital discord, low family intimacy, parenting impairments) accounted for the impact of maternal depressive symptoms on their social and emotional adjustment. Analyses suggest that family discord is a strong mediator in the development of girls' conduct disturbances and a modest mediator of girls' depressive symptoms. Results are discussed within a framework that integrates interpersonal models of parental depressive symptoms with the gender intensification hypothesis.

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