Skip to main content

Parenting and Late Adolescent Emotional Adjustment: Mediating Effects of Discipline and Gender


Research suggests that parenting styles are related to the types of discipline parents utilize and that the coupling of parenting styles and discipline techniques are related to child outcomes. Although extant research examines the effects of parenting styles and discipline on child and early adolescent adjustment, less is known about adjustment in late adolescents, also described as emerging adults. Thus, the current study investigated the relationships among parenting styles (e.g., authoritative, authoritarian, permissive), discipline strategies (e.g., non-violent discipline, psychological aggression, physical assault), and emerging adult emotional adjustment (e.g., self-esteem, depression, and anxiety). The sample consisted of 526 participants ranging in age from 18 to 22 years. Results were analyzed with structural equation modeling and suggest that, although perceived parenting styles and discipline are both correlated with emerging adult emotional adjustment, perceived parenting is associated with emerging adult emotional adjustment for females but not males when examined simultaneously with perceived discipline. This finding demonstrates the importance of examining the direct and indirect relationships in the context of gender dyads.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4


  1. 1.

    Baumrind D (1991) Effective parenting during the early adolescent transition. In: Cowan PA (ed) Family transitions. Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale, pp 111–163

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Harper FWK, Brown AM, Arias I, Brody G (2006) Corporal punishment and kids: how do parent support and gender influence child adjustment? J Fam Violence 2:197–207

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Renk K, McKinney C, Klein J, Oliveros A (2006) Childhood discipline, perceptions of parents, and current functioning in female college students. J Adolesc 29:78–88

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    McKinney C, Renk K (2008) Differential parenting between mothers and fathers: implications for late adolescents. J Fam Issues 29:806–827

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Arnett JJ (2000) Emerging adulthood: a theory of development from the late teens through the twenties. Am Psychol 55:469–480

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Maccoby EE, Martin JA (1983) Socialization in the context of the family: parent–child interaction. In: Mussen PH, Hetherington EM (eds) Handbook of child psychology: socialization, personality, and social development, vol 4. Wiley, New York, pp 1–101

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Henderson CE, Dakof GA, Schwartz SJ, Liddle HA (2006) Family functioning, self-concept, and severity of adolescent externalizing problems. J Child Fam Stud 15:721–731

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    McKinney C, Renk K (2008) Multivariate models of parent-late adolescent gender dyads: the importance of parenting processes in predicting adjustment. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev 39:147–170

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Paulussen-Hoogeboom MC, Stams GJJM, Hermanns JMA, Peetsma TTD, Wittenboer GLH (2008) Parenting style as a mediator between children’s negative emotionality and problematic behavior in early childhood. J Genet Psychol 169:209–226

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Barnett MA, Quackenbush SW, Sinisi CS (1996) Factors affecting children’s, adolescents’, and young adults’ perceptions of parental discipline. J Genet Psychol 157:411–424

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Hoffman ML (1963) Parent discipline and the child’s consideration for others. Child Dev 34:573–588

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Straus MA (1994) Beating the devil out of them: corporal punishment in American families and its effects on children. Lexington Books, New York

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Day RD, Peterson GW, McCracken C (1998) Predicting spanking behavior of younger and older children by mothers and fathers. J Marriage Fam 60:79–94

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Manzeske DP, Stright AD (2009) Parenting styles and emotion regulation: the roles of behavioral and psychological control during young adulthood. J Adult Dev 16:223–229

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Kuppens S, Grietens H, Onghena P, Michiels D (2009) Relations between parental psychological control and childhood relational aggression: reciprocal in nature? J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol 38:117–131

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Pettit GS, Bates J, Dodge KA (1997) Supportive parenting, ecological context, and the children’s adjustment: a seven-year long longitudinal study. Child Dev 68:908–923

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Krevans J, Gibbs JC (1996) Parents’ use of inductive discipline: relations to children’s empathy and prosocial behavior. Child Dev 67:3263–3277

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Laible D, Eye J, Carlo G (2008) Dimensions of conscience in mid-adolescence: links with social behavior, parenting, and temperament. J Youth Adolescence 37:875–887

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Fletcher AC, Walls JK, Cook E, Madison KJ, Bridges TH (2008) Parenting styles as a moderator of associations between maternal disciplinary strategies and child well-being. J Fam Issues 29:1724–1742

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Gfroerer K, Kern R, Curlette W (2004) Research support for individual psychology’s parenting model. J Individ Psychol 61:379–388

    Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Bosco GL, Renk K, Dinger TM, Epstein MK, Phares V (2003) The connections between adolescents’ perceptions of parents, parental psychological symptoms, and adolescent functioning. J Appl Dev Psychol 24:179–200

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    McKinney C, Donnelly R, Renk K (2008) Perceived parenting, positive and negative perceptions of parents, and late adolescent emotional adjustment. Child Adolesc Ment Health 13:66–73

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Paulson SE, Sputa CL (1996) Patterns of parenting during adolescence: perceptions of adolescents and parents. J Adolesc 31:369–381

    Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Phares V, Fields S, Kamboukos D (2009) Fathers’ and mothers’ involvement with their adolescents. J Child Fam Stud 18:1–9

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Gryczkowski MR, Jordan SS, Mercer SH (2010) Differential relations between mothers’ and fathers’ parenting practices and child externalizing behavior. J Child Fam Stud 19:539–546

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Conrade G, Ho R (2001) Differential parenting styles for fathers and mothers: differential treatment for sons and daughters. Aust J Psychol 53:29–35

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Phares V (1999) “Poppa” psychology. Praeger Publishers, Westport

    Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    McKee L, Roland E, Coffelt N, Olsen A, Forehand R, Massari C et al (2007) Harsh discipline and child problem behaviors: the roles of positive parenting and gender. J Fam Violence 22:187–196

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Milevsky A, Schlechter M, Netter S, Keehn D (2007) Maternal and paternal parenting styles in adolescents: associations with self-esteem, depression, and life satisfaction. J Fam Stud 16:39–47

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Agliata AK, Renk K (2008) College students’ adjustment: the role of parent-college student expectation discrepancies and communication reciprocity. J Youth Adolesc 37:967–982

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Parker G, Tupling H, Brown LB (1979) A parental bonding instrument. Br J Med Psychol 52:1–10

    Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Buri JR (1991) Parental Authority Questionnaire. J Pers Assess 57:110–119

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Straus MA, Hamby SL, Finkelhor D, Moore DW, Runyan D (1998) Identification of child maltreatment with the parent-child conflict tactics scales: development and psychometric data for a national sample of American parents. Child Abuse Negl 22:249–270

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Rosenberg M (1965) Society and the adolescent self image. Princeton University Press, Princeton

    Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Beck AT, Steer RA, Brown GK (1996) Beck depression inventory: second edition manual. The Psychological Corporation, San Antonio

    Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Taylor JA (1953) A personality scale of manifest anxiety. J Abnorm Soc Psych 48:285–290

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Kline RB (1998) Principles and practice of structural equation modeling. The Guilford Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Bentler PM (1992) On the fit of models to covariances and methodology to the bulletin. Psychol Bull 112:400–404

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Hu L, Bentler PM (1999) Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Stuct Equ Model 6:1–55

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    James LR, Mulaik SS, Brett JM (1982) Causal analysis: assumptions, models, and data. Sage, Beverly Hills

    Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Anderson JC, Gerbing DW (1988) Structural equations modeling in practice: a review and recommended two-step approach. Psychol Bull 103:411–423

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Barry B, Stewart GL (1997) Composition, process, and performance in self-managed groups: the role of personality. J Appl Psychol 82:62–78

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Russell A, Saebel J (1997) Mother-son, mother-daughter, father-son, and father-daughter: are they distinct relationships? Dev Rev 17:111–147

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Cliff McKinney.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

McKinney, C., Milone, M.C. & Renk, K. Parenting and Late Adolescent Emotional Adjustment: Mediating Effects of Discipline and Gender. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev 42, 463–481 (2011).

Download citation


  • Parenting
  • Discipline
  • Gender
  • Late adolescents
  • Emotional adjustment