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11-10-2019 | Original Paper | Uitgave 5/2020

Journal of Child and Family Studies 5/2020

Bidirectional Relation between Paternal/Maternal Psychological Control and Adolescent Behavioral Outcomes

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 5/2020
Xinyuan Fu, Yan Zhang
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Parental psychological control is considered a destructive form of parenting, which renders adolescents vulnerable to psychosocial maladjustment. Adolescent behavior might also in turn impact parental psychological control, which is, as yet, much less known. Nevertheless, few studies so far on parental psychological control have examined the paternal and maternal dimensions independently. Therefore, the present study aims to examine the longitudinally bidirectional relation between paternal/maternal psychological control and adolescent behavioral outcomes.


A total of 434 Chinese adolescents participated at two time points approximately one year apart. At each time point, the participants completed a questionnaire containing measurements of paternal/maternal psychological control, prosocial behavior toward family, friends, and strangers, academic achievement, and demographic information. A cross-lagged model was conducted to test the hypotheses, and good model fit was reached, χ2 (2750) = 4294.45, p < 0.001, CFI = 0.92, TLI = 0.91, RMSEA = 0.04, SRMR = 0.06.


The main results showed that maternal psychological control was negatively predictive of subsequent prosocial behavior toward friends and strangers, but not toward family or academic achievement, and adolescent academic achievement was longitudinally and negatively related to both paternal and maternal psychological control.


The findings support the transactional model of development, which indicates that parenting is changing and also being changed by adolescent behavior. The discussion focuses on understanding the dynamic interplay between parental psychological control and adolescent behavioral outcomes.

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