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Parenting Stress and Childhood Psychopathology: An Examination of Specificity to Internalizing and Externalizing Symptoms

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine if specificity exists between three factors of parenting stress (i.e., parental distress, parent–child (PC) dysfunctional interactions, and difficult child) and childhood internalizing and externalizing symptoms. The incremental validity of parenting stress beyond parental psychopathology was also examined. The sample was drawn from families of children aged 5–17 (N = 300), who sought treatment for their child from a community mental health clinic. Results indicated that the PC dysfunctional interactions factor showed specificity to internalizing symptoms when controlling for parental psychopathology. Parental distress did not show specificity or incremental validity and the difficult child factor was associated with both internalizing and externalizing symptoms when controlling for parental psychopathology. The influence of age, gender, and ethnicity on these associations is also presented, and findings are discussed in terms of how the results add to understanding the specific relations between parenting stress and child and adolescent symptoms.

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Correspondence to Carl F. Weems.

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Costa, N.M., Weems, C.F., Pellerin, K. et al. Parenting Stress and Childhood Psychopathology: An Examination of Specificity to Internalizing and Externalizing Symptoms. J Psychopathol Behav Assess 28, 113–122 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10862-006-7489-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10862-006-7489-3

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