Linking Family Economic Pressure and Supportive Parenting to Adolescent Health Behaviors: Two Developmental Pathways Leading to Health Promoting and Health Risk Behaviors
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Adolescent health behaviors, especially health risk behaviors, have previously been linked to distal (i.e., family economic pressure) and proximal (i.e., parental support) contributors. However, few studies have examined both types of contributors along with considering health promoting and health risk behaviors separately. The present study investigated the influences of family economic hardship, supportive parenting as conceptualized by self-determination theory, and individual psychosocial and behavioral characteristics (i.e., mastery and delinquency, respectively) on adolescents’ health promoting and health risk behaviors. We used structural equation modeling to analyze longitudinal data from a sample of Caucasian adolescent children and their mothers and fathers (N = 407, 54 % female) to examine direct and indirect effects, as well as gender symmetry and asymmetry. Findings suggest that family economic pressure contributed to adolescent mastery and delinquency through supportive parenting. Further, supportive parenting indirectly affected adolescent health risk behaviors only through delinquency, whereas supportive parenting indirectly influenced health promoting behaviors only through mastery, suggesting different developmental pathways for adolescent health risk and health promoting behaviors. Testing for gender symmetry of the full model showed that maternal and paternal parenting contributed to females’ health risk behaviors directly, while maternal and paternal parenting contributed to males’ health risk behaviors through delinquency. Gender symmetry was largely unsupported. The study highlights key direct and indirect pathways to adolescent health risk and health promoting behaviors within a family stress model and self-determination theory framework, and also highlights important gender differences in these developmental pathways.