Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 48, Issue 5, pp 963–978 | Cite as

Child Effects on Lability in Parental Warmth and Hostility: Moderation by Parents’ Internalizing Problems

  • Melissa A. LippoldEmail author
  • Gregory M. Fosco
  • Andrea Hussong
  • Nilam Ram
Empirical Research


Research documents that lability in parent-child relationships–fluctuations up and down in parent-child relationships–is normative during adolescence and is associated with increased risk for negative outcomes for youth. Yet little is known about factors that predict lability in parenting. This study evaluated whether children’s behaviors predicted lability in parent-child relationships. Specifically this study tested whether youth maladjustment (delinquency, substance use, internalizing problems) in Grade 6 was associated with greater lability (e.g., more fluctuations) in parents’ warmth and hostility towards their children across Grades 6–8. The study also tested whether the associations between youth maladjustment and lability in parents’ warmth and hostility were moderated by parents’ internalizing problems. The sample included youth and their parents in two parent families who resided in rural communities and small towns (N = 618; 52% girls, 90% Caucasian). Findings suggest that parents’ internalizing problems moderated the associations between child maladjustment and parenting lability. Among parents with high levels of internalizing problems, higher levels of youth maladjustment were associated with greater lability in parents’ warmth. Among parents with low in internalizing problems, higher levels of youth maladjustment were associated with less lability in parents’ warmth. The discussion focuses on how and why parent internalizing problems may affect parental reactivity to youth problem behavior and intervention implications.


Parent–youth relationships Parenting Parenting lability Child effects Parental depression 



Work on this study was supported by research grants from the National Institutes of Health including R03 DA038685 and R01 DA013709. Further support was given to Gregory Fosco through the Karl R. and Diane Wendle Fink Early Career Professorship for the Study of Families. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute on Drug Abuse or the National Institutes of Health.

Authors’ Contributions

M.L. conceived of the study, ran the analyses, and drafted the manuscript. G.F. participated in the design of the study, aided in the interpretation of the data and findings, and provided feedback on drafts. A.H. participated in the design of the study, aided in the interpretation of the data and findings, and provided feedback on drafts. N.R. provided conceptual and statistical consultation, aided in the interpretation of the data and findings, and provided feedback on drafts. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


Work on this paper was supported by research grants from the National Institutes of Health including R03 DA038685 and R01 DA013709. Further support was given to Gregory Fosco through the Karl R. and Diane Wendle Fink Early Career Professorship for the Study of Families.

Data Sharing and Declaration

This manuscript’s data will not be deposited.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The original PROSPER study procedures were approved by Institutional Review Board at The Pennsylvania State University, where the study was housed. 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. The study here used deidentified secondary data from the PROSPER project. Therefore it was deemed exempt from the Institution Review Board at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Informed Consent

All youths and families in the original PROSPER study were informed about and consented to participate in the project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melissa A. Lippold
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gregory M. Fosco
    • 2
  • Andrea Hussong
    • 3
  • Nilam Ram
    • 2
  1. 1.The School of Social WorkThe University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Human Development and Family StudiesThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  3. 3.Psychology Department, The Center for Developmental ScienceThe University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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