The Effects of Positive and Negative Parenting Practices on Adolescent Mental Health Outcomes in a Multicultural Sample of Rural Youth


The quality of parent–child relationships has a significant impact on adolescent developmental outcomes, especially mental health. Given the lack of research on rural adolescent mental health in general and rural parent–child relationships in particular, the current longitudinal study explores how rural adolescents’ (N = 2,617) perceptions of parenting practices effect their mental health (i.e., anxiety, depression, aggression, self-esteem, future optimism, and school satisfaction) over a 1 year period. Regression models showed that current parenting practices (i.e., in Year 2) were strongly associated with current adolescent mental health outcomes. Negative current parenting, manifesting in parent–adolescent conflict, was related to higher adolescent anxiety, depression, and aggression and lower self-esteem, and school satisfaction. Past parent–adolescent conflict (i.e., in Year 1) also positively predicted adolescent aggression in the present. Current positive parenting (i.e., parent support, parent–child future orientation, and parent education support) was significantly associated with less depression and higher self-esteem, future optimism, and school satisfaction. Past parent education support was also related to current adolescent future optimism. Implications for practice and limitations were discussed.

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This study was funded through a cooperative agreement with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (5 U01 CE001948-04).

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Correspondence to Paul R. Smokowski.

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Smokowski, P.R., Bacallao, M.L., Cotter, K.L. et al. The Effects of Positive and Negative Parenting Practices on Adolescent Mental Health Outcomes in a Multicultural Sample of Rural Youth. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev 46, 333–345 (2015).

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  • Parenting
  • Adolescent
  • Mental health
  • Rural
  • Youth