Do Historical Changes in Parent–Child Relationships Explain Increases in Youth Conduct Problems?
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- Collishaw, S., Gardner, F., Maughan, B. et al. J Abnorm Child Psychol (2012) 40: 119. doi:10.1007/s10802-011-9543-1
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The coincidence of historical trends in youth antisocial behavior and change in family demographics has led to speculation of a causal link, possibly mediated by declining quality of parenting and parent–child relationships. No study to date has directly assessed whether and how parenting and parent–child relationships have changed. Two national samples of English adolescents aged 16–17 years in 1986 (N = 4,524 adolescents, 7,120 parents) and 2006 (N = 716 adolescents, 734 parents) were compared using identical questionnaire assessments. Youth-reported parental monitoring, expectations, and parent–child quality time increased between 1986 and 2006. Ratings of parental interest did not change. Parenting differences between affluent and disadvantaged families narrowed over time. There was thus little evidence of a decline in quality of parenting for the population as a whole or for disadvantaged subgroups. Parent-reported youth conduct problems showed a modest increase between 1986 and 2006. Findings suggested that the increase in youth conduct problems was largely unrelated to observed change in parent–child relationships.