Date of Award

2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Abstract

Parental monitoring and warmth have traditionally been studied in the context of white, middle-class families. This paper adds to recent research that has begun to explore what levels of these parenting behaviors are optimal for the prevention of adolescent psychopathology in impoverished, urban high crime areas. It also takes into account parent and child perceptions of neighborhood danger. This study employs a longitudinal design, with data collected at two times points one year apart, among a sample of 240 African American young adolescents and their parents in urban, high crime neighborhoods. It aims to study parental monitoring, parental warmth, parent perception of neighborhood danger, child perception of neighborhood danger, child internalizing distress, and child externalizing distress. Further, child internalizing and externalizing distress are measured both through retrospective questionnaire reports of psychopathology as well as in vivo accounts of daily distress through the use of the Experience Sampling Method (ESM), a time sampling technique.

Parents' perception of neighborhood danger predicted an increase in adolescents' externalizing behavior, but not internalizing distress. Contrary to expectation, parents' awareness of danger did not relate to the degree to which they monitored their children. Parental monitoring was associated with children's externalizing behavior, although a hypothesized quadratic relation between parents' monitoring and externalizing did not exist. Both linear and quadratic relations were discovered between parental monitoring and children's internalizing distress. One of the most consistent predictors of adolescents' distress, surprisingly, was their perception of neighborhood danger, which was associated with higher levels of both adolescent internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Adolescents' perception of neighborhood danger emerged as an equally strong predictor of internalizing and externalizing symptoms as parental monitoring and parental warmth. The rate of parent-child agreement regarding the presence of extreme levels of danger was lower than expected. Finally, differential relations existed between parental monitoring and parental warmth as they pertained to internalizing and externalizing. In general, parental monitoring more strongly predicted adolescent externalizing than parental warmth; however, parental warmth was a stronger predictor of adolescent internalizing than parental monitoring. Significant interactions are also discussed, as well as the implications of these findings and how they can serve as a guide to future research.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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