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Parenting Effects are in the Eye of the Beholder: Parent-Adolescent Differences in Perceptions Affects Adolescent Problem Behaviors

Abstract

Although it is known that parents and adolescents hold different views regarding adolescent characteristics (e.g., inter-rater agreement on adolescent behaviors between parents and adolescents is low), we know little about parent-adolescent (dis)agreement in their perceptions of parenting. The current study used 220 parent-adolescent dyads (M age = 13.3 years; 50.5 % female) to address this gap and examined how the discrepancy between parents’ and adolescents’ perceptions of the parent’s negative reactions toward an adolescent’s anger affects the adolescent’s problem behaviors. Results suggested the direction of the disagreement between the two parties is important: when adolescents viewed parenting more negatively than parents did, adolescents showed elevated levels of broadband externalizing behaviors and, specifically, aggressive behaviors. This finding suggests the importance of adolescents’ subjective views of how mothers and fathers react to them. The findings are discussed in terms of methodology in family studies and implications toward future research.

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Acknowledgments

This study is an archival study that was funded by the Section on Developmental Psychopathology (directed by Carolyn Zahn-Waxler) in the Child Psychiatry Branch of Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Mental Health. The referenced protocol is 1 Z01 MH002775 Adolescence: Anxiety, Mood and Behavior Disorders (referred to elsewhere as The Role of Emotion in the Development of Psychopathology in Adolescence or the Adolescent Emotion Study—Protocol #97-M-0116; PIs Bonnie Klimes-Dougan and Carolyn Zahn-Waxler). We thank the youths and their parents who willingly participated in this investigation. We are indebted to the significant contributions of Barbara Usher and Kimberly Kendziora, as well as the diligent efforts of numerous fellows, interns, research assistants and volunteers who have contributed so much to the implementation of this project. We would also like to extend our gratefulness to Drs. Tuppett Yates, Cecilia Cheung, and Minako Deno for their insightful and valuable feedback on this manuscript. Finally, we have great appreciation for Danielle Samuels’ and Sofia Stepanyan’s continual comments on all versions of the article.

Author’s Contributions

LMD conceived of the current study, performed the statistical analyses, interpreted the data, and drafted the manuscript. MNN participated in the study’s design, interpreted data, and helped to draft and critically revise the manuscript. PH participated in the design and coordination of the larger study. CZW conceived of the larger study and managed and interpreted the data. BKD conceived of the larger study and participated in the coordination of participants. PH, CZW, and BKD provided critical feedback on the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Laura M. Dimler or Misaki N. Natsuaki.

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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.

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Informed consent and assent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Dimler, L.M., Natsuaki, M.N., Hastings, P.D. et al. Parenting Effects are in the Eye of the Beholder: Parent-Adolescent Differences in Perceptions Affects Adolescent Problem Behaviors. J Youth Adolescence 46, 1076–1088 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-016-0612-1

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Keywords

  • Perceived parenting
  • Discrepancy
  • Anger
  • Adolescent problem behaviors
  • Inter-rater agreement