Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 119–132

Do Historical Changes in Parent–Child Relationships Explain Increases in Youth Conduct Problems?

  • Stephan Collishaw
  • Frances Gardner
  • Barbara Maughan
  • Jacqueline Scott
  • Andrew Pickles

DOI: 10.1007/s10802-011-9543-1

Cite this article as:
Collishaw, S., Gardner, F., Maughan, B. et al. J Abnorm Child Psychol (2012) 40: 119. doi:10.1007/s10802-011-9543-1


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.


Time trends Parenting Adolescent Antisocial behavior 

Supplementary material

10802_2011_9543_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (22 kb)
Supplementary Table 11986 sample (BCS70): Profile of age 16 responders in relation to characteristics at birth and at age 10. Efficacy of weights in correcting known biases due to attrition (PDF 21 kb)
10802_2011_9543_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (20 kb)
Supplementary Table 22006 sample (HSE 2002/3 follow-up): Profile of age 16/17 responders in relation to characteristics at age 11–14. Efficacy of weights in correcting known selective attrition biases (PDF 20 kb)
10802_2011_9543_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (31 kb)
Supplementary Table 3Cross-sectional and predictive associations of parenting measures with youth conduct disorder (2+ symptoms) and adult crime for BCS70 cohort (PDF 31 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephan Collishaw
    • 1
  • Frances Gardner
    • 2
  • Barbara Maughan
    • 3
  • Jacqueline Scott
    • 4
  • Andrew Pickles
    • 5
  1. 1.Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Section and MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetic and Genomics, Department of Psychological Medicine and NeurologyCardiff University School of Medicine, HeathCardiffUK
  2. 2.Department of Social Policy and Social WorkUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  3. 3.MRC Social Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of PsychiatryKings College LondonLondonUK
  4. 4.Department of SociologyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  5. 5.Department of Biostatistics, Institute of PsychiatryKings College LondonLondonUK