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Early Adolescents’ Perceptions of Their Mother’s Anxious Parenting as a Predictor of Anxiety Symptoms 12 Months Later

Abstract

Parental overprotection and modeling of fearful behaviors have been proposed to play a central role in the development of anxiety. Yet there have been few longitudinal examinations of these relationships and virtually none focusing on the adolescent period. The current study measured adolescent perceptions of maternal anxious parenting (a combination of overprotection and expression of anxiety), mothers’ levels of anxiousness, and adolescents’ anxiety symptoms in 421 girls in grade 7 and their mothers. Measures were repeated 12 months later. When the adolescent’s self report of anxiety was used as the outcome, the adolescent’s perception of maternal anxious parenting significantly predicted adolescent anxiety 12 months later. When the mother’s report of adolescent anxiety was used as the outcome adolescent anxiety significantly predicted adolescent perceptions of maternal anxious parenting 12 months later. Maternal anxiousness predicted the adolescent’s perception of anxious parenting, but meditational relationships were not significant in either model. The data are partly consistent with reciprocal influence models of parent/child relationships but point to the importance of informant perspectives in determining relationships between these complex variables.

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Acknowledgements

The author would like to express his gratitude to Jordana McLoone and Joel Roast for their tireless and dedicated efforts in collecting the data for this study as well as data coding and entry. Thanks also to Jennifer Mitchell for help with data coding. The research was supported by grant # DP0210155 from the Australian Research Council.

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Correspondence to Ronald M. Rapee.

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Rapee, R.M. Early Adolescents’ Perceptions of Their Mother’s Anxious Parenting as a Predictor of Anxiety Symptoms 12 Months Later. J Abnorm Child Psychol 37, 1103–1112 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-009-9340-2

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Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Adolescent
  • Parenting
  • Modeling
  • Development