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Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2014 Sep;84(5):567-80. doi: 10.1037/ort0000012. Epub 2014 Aug 4.

Reciprocal influences between maternal parenting and child adjustment in a high-risk population: a 5-year cross-lagged analysis of bidirectional effects.

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Department of Psychology, Pace University.
Teachers College, Columbia University.
Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California, Los Angeles.
Child Study Center, Yale University.


This study examines longitudinally the bidirectional influences between maternal parenting (behaviors and parenting stress) and mothers' perceptions of their children's adjustment, in a multivariate approach. Data was gathered from 361 low-income mothers (many with psychiatric diagnoses) reporting on their parenting behavior, parenting stress, and their child's adjustment, in a 2-wave longitudinal study over 5 years. Measurement models were developed to derive 4 broad parenting constructs (involvement, control, rejection, and stress) and 3 child adjustment constructs (internalizing problems, externalizing problems, and social competence). After measurement invariance of these constructs was confirmed across relevant groups and over time, both measurement models were integrated in a single crossed-lagged regression analysis of latent constructs. Multiple reciprocal influences were observed between parenting and perceived child adjustment over time: Externalizing and internalizing problems in children were predicted by baseline maternal parenting behaviors, and child social competence was found to reduce parental stress and increase parental involvement and appropriate monitoring. These findings on the motherhood experience are discussed in light of recent research efforts to understand mother-child bidirectional influences and their potential for practical applications.

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