Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 25, Issue 12, pp 3584–3592 | Cite as

Day-to-day Consistency in Positive Parent–Child Interactions and Youth Well-Being

  • Melissa A. LippoldEmail author
  • Kelly D. Davis
  • Katie M. Lawson
  • Susan M. McHale
Original Paper


The frequency of positive parent–child interactions is associated with youth adjustment. Yet, little is known about daily parent–child interactions and how day-to-day consistency in positive parent–child interactions may be linked to youth well-being. Using a daily diary approach, this study added to this literature to investigate whether and how day-to-day consistency in positive parent–child interactions was linked to youth depressive symptoms, risky behavior, and physical health. Participants were youth whose parents were employed in the IT division of a Fortune 500 company (N = 129, youth’s mean age = 13.39, 55 % female), who participated in an 8 day daily diary study. Analyses revealed that, controlling for cross-day mean levels of positive parent–child interactions, older (but not younger) adolescents who experienced more consistency in positive interactions with parents had fewer depressive and physical health symptoms (e.g., colds, flu). The discussion focuses on the utility of daily diary methods for assessing the correlates of consistency in parenting, possible processes underlying these associations, and intervention implications.


Parenting Adolescence Parent–child relationships Parenting consistency Depressive symptoms Risky behavior Physical health 



This research was conducted as part of the Work, Family and Health Network (, which is funded by a cooperative agreement through the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grant # U01HD051217, U01HD051218, U01HD051256, U01HD051276), National Institute on Aging (Grant # U01AG027669), Office of Behavioral and Science Sciences Research, and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Grant # U01OH008788, U01HD059773). Grants from the William T. Grant Foundation, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Administration for Children and Families have provided additional funding. Additional funding was provided by The National Institute of Drug Abuse (R03 DA038685). The contents of this publication are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of these institutes and offices. Special acknowledgment goes to Extramural Staff Science Collaborator, Rosalind Berkowitz King, Ph.D. and Lynne Casper, Ph.D. for the design of the original Workplace, Family, Health and Well-Being Network Initiative. We also wish express our gratitude to the worksites, employers, and employees who participated in this research. We thank Lauren Camuso for her assistance in the preparation of this manuscript. Full acknowledgments:

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethics and Human Subjects Protection

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


  1. Ainsworth, M. D. S., Blehar, M. C., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of attachment: A psychological study of the strange situation. New York, NY: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  2. Allen, J. P., Insabella, G., Porter, M. R., Smith, F. D., Land, D., & Phillips, N. (2006). A social-interactional model of the development of depressive symptoms in adolescence. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74(1), 55–65. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.74.1.55.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. Bahr, S. J., Hoffmann, J. P., & Yang, X. (2005). Parental and peer influences on the risk of adolescent drug use. Journal of Primary Prevention, 26(6), 529–551. doi: 10.1007/s10935-005-0014-8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84(2), 191.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  6. Bornstein, M. (2006). Parenting science and practice. In N. Eisenberg, W. Damon & R. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology: (6th edition, Vol. 3), Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  7. Brand, H. J., Crous, B. H., & Hanekom, J. D. (1990). Perceived parental inconsistency as a factor in the emotional development of behaviour-disordered children. Psychological Reports, 66(2), 620–622. doi: 10.2466/PR0.66.2.620-622.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Branje, S. J., Hale, III, W. W., Frijns, T., & Meeus, W. H. (2010). Longitudinal associations between perceived parent–child relationship quality and depressive symptoms in adolescence. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 38(6), 751–763. doi: 10.1007/s10802-010-9401-6.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Bray, J. W., Kelly, E. L., Hammer, L. B., Almeida, D. M., Dearing, J.W., King, R. B., & Buxton, O. M. (2013). An integrative, multi-level, and transdisciplinary research approach to challenges of work, family, and health. Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press. RTI Press publication No. MR-0024-1303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Catalano, R., & Hawkins, D. (1996). The social development model: A theory of antisocial behavior. In J. D. Hawkins (Ed.), Delinquency and crime: Current theories (pp. 149–197). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Cole, D. A., Tram, J. M., Martin, J. M., Hoffman, K. B., Ruiz, M. D., Jacquez, F. M., & Maschman, T. L. (2002). Individual differences in the emergence of depressive symptoms in children and adolescents: A longitudinal investigation of parent and child reports. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 111(1), 156–165. doi: 10.1037/0021-843X.111.1.156.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Conger, R. D. (1989). Iowa Youth and Families Project, Wave A. Report prepared for Iowa State University, Ames, IA: Institute for Social and Behavioral Research.Google Scholar
  13. Dishion, T. J., Patterson, G. R., Stoolmiller, M., & Skinner, M. L. (1991). Family, school, and behavioral antecedents to early adolescent involvement with antisocial peers. Developmental Psychology, 27, 172–180. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.27.1.172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Granic, I., Hollenstein, T., Dishion, T. J., & Patterson, G. R. (2003). Longitudinal analysis of flexibility and reorganization in early adolescence: A dynamic systems study of family interactions. Developmental Psychology, 39(3), 606–617. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.39.3.606.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Greenberg, M. T., & Lippold, M. A. (2013). Promoting health among multi-risk youth: Innovative approaches. The Annual Review of Public Health, 34, 253–270. doi: 10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031811-124619.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Hair, Jr, J. F., Anderson, R. E., Tatham, R. L., & Black, W. C. (1995). Multivariate data analysis. 3rd ed. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  17. Halgunseth, L. C., Perkins, D. F., Lippold, M. A., & Nix, R. L. (2013). Delinquent-oriented attitudes mediate the relation between parental inconsistent discipline and early adolescent behavior. Journal of Family Psychology, 27(2), 293–302. doi: 10.1037/a0031962.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Hankin, B. L., & Abramson, L. Y. (2001). Development of gender differences in depression: An elaborated cognitive vulnerability–transactional stress theory. Psychological Bulletin, 127(6), 773–796. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.127.6.773.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. King, R. B., Karuntzos, G. T., Casper, L. M., Moen, P., Davis, K. D., Berkman, L., Durham, M., & Kossek, E. E. (2012). Work-family balance issues and work-leave policies. In R. J. Gatchel & I. Z. Schultz (Eds.), Handbook of occupational health and wellness (pp. 323–339). New York, NY: Springer.Google Scholar
  20. Kovacs, M. (2001). Children’s depression inventory manual. North Tonawanda, NY: Multi-Health Systems.Google Scholar
  21. Larsen, R. J., & Kasimatis, M. (1991). Day-to-day physical symptoms: Individual differences in the occurrence, duration, and emotional concomitants of minor daily illnesses. Journal of Personality, 59, 387–423. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.1991.tb00254.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Laskey, B. J., & Cartwright-Hatton, S. (2009). Parental discipline behaviours and beliefs about their child: Associations with child internalizing and mediation relationships. Child Care, Health & Development 35(5), 717–727. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2009.00977.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Laursen, B., & Collins, W. A. (2009). Parent–child relationships during adolescence. In R. M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent psychology (pp. 3–42). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. doi: 10.1002/9780470479193.adlpsy002002.
  24. Lippold, M. A., Fosco, G., Ram, N., & Feinberg, M. E. (2016). Knowledge lability: Within-person changes in parental knowledge and their association with adolescent problem behaviors. Prevention Science, 17, 274–283. doi: 10.1007/s11121-015-0604-5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Lippold, M. A., McHale, S. M., Davis, K. D., & Kossek, E. (2015). Day-to-day inconsistency in parental knowledge: Linkages to youth health and parental stress. The Journal of Adolescent Health, 56(3), 293–299. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2014.11.017.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  26. Luxton, D. (2008). The effects of inconsistent parenting on the development of uncertain self-esteem and depression vulnerability. Dissertation Abstracts International, 69(4B), 6231.Google Scholar
  27. Maccoby, E. E. (1992). The role of parents in the socialization of children: An historical overview. Developmental Psychology, 28(6), 1006–1017. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.28.6.1006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Marceau, K., Ram, N., & Susman, E. J. (2014). Development and lability in the parent–child relationship during adolescence: Associations with pubertal timing and tempo. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 25(3), 474–489. doi: 10.1111/jora.12139.CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. McElhaney, K.B., Allen, J.P., Claire, S.J., & Hare, A. L. (2009).Attachment and Autonomy During Adolescence. In R. M. Lerner and L. D. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of Adolescent Psychology (pp. 358–403). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  30. McHale, S. M., Crouter, A. C., & Whiteman, S. D. (2003). The family contexts of gender development in childhood and adolescence. Social Development, 12(1), 125–148. doi: 10.1111/1467-9507.00225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Merikangas, K. R., He, J. P., Burstein, M., Swanson, S. A., Avenevoli, S., & Cui, L., et al. (2010). Lifetime prevalence of mental disorders in US adolescents: Results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication–Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A). Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 49(10), 980–989. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2010.05.017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Murray, J., & Farrington, D. P. (2010). Risk factors for conduct disorder and delinquency: key findings from longitudinal studies. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 55(10), 633–642.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Pettit, G. S., & Arsiwalla, D. D. (2008). Commentary on special section on “bidirectional parent–child relationships”: The continuing evolution of dynamic, transactional models of parenting and youth behavior problems. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 36(5), 711–718. doi: 10.1007/s10802-008-9242-8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Ram, N., & Diehl, M. (2015). Multiple time-scale design and analysis:Pushing towards real-timemodeling of complex developmental processes. In M. Diehl, K. Hooker, & M. Sliwinski (Eds.), Handbook of intraindividual variability across the lifespan (pp. 308–323). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  35. Ram, N., & Gerstorf, D. (2009). Time-structured and net intraindividual variability: Tools for examining the development of dynamic characteristics and processes. Psychology and Aging, 24, 778–791. doi: 10.1037/a0017915.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  36. Ram, N., Gerstorf, D., Lindenberger, U., & Smith, J. (2011). Developmental change and intraindividual variability: Relating cognitive aging to cognitive plasticity, cardiovascular lability, and emotional diversity. Psychology and Aging, 26(2), 363–371. doi: 10.1037/a0021500.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  37. Repetti, R. L., Robles, T. F., & Reynolds, B. (2011). Allostatic processes in the family. Development and Psychopathology, 23(3), 921–938. doi: 10.1017/S095457941100040X.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Steinberg, L., & Morris, A. S. (2001). Adolescent development. Journal of Cognitive Education and Psychology, 2(1), 55–87. doi: 10.1891/19458950178738344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wray-Lake, L., Crouter, A. C., & McHale, S. M. (2010). Developmental patterns in decision-making autonomy across middle childhood and adolescence: European American parents’ perspectives. Child Development, 81(2), 636–651. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01420.x.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  40. Yoshizumi, T., Murase, S., Murakami, T., & Takai, J. (2006). Reliability and validity of the parenting scale of inconsistency. Psychological Reports, 99(1), 74–84. doi: 10.2466/PR0.99.5.74-84.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melissa A. Lippold
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kelly D. Davis
    • 2
  • Katie M. Lawson
    • 3
  • Susan M. McHale
    • 4
  1. 1.The School of Social WorkThe University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.College of Public Health and Human SciencesOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  3. 3.Ball State University, Ball State UniversityMuncieUSA
  4. 4.The Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations