This 6-year longitudinal study examined the direction of effects (i.e., parent effects, child effects, or reciprocal effects) between maternal criticism and adolescent depressive and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) symptoms, including adolescents’ perceptions of criticism as a potential mediator. Consistent with recent empirical findings on associations between parenting and adolescent internalizing symptoms, we hypothesized stronger child effects than parent effects. A community sample of 497 adolescents (M age = 13.03 at T1, 57 % boys) reported annually on their depressive and GAD symptoms as well as their perceptions of parental criticism. Their mothers (M age = 44.41 at T1) also reported annually on their own critical behavior toward their adolescent. As expected, cross-lagged panel models demonstrated stronger child effects (i.e., adolescent psychopathology predicting maternal criticism) than parent effects (i.e., maternal criticism predicting adolescent psychopathology) for both adolescent depressive and GAD symptoms, including adolescent perceived criticism as a significant mediator. Our results emphasize the importance of considering (1) potential bidirectional influences over time, contrary to a focus on parent effects on adolescent mental health, as well as (2) adolescent perceptions of parenting as an important potential mediator in associations between aspects of the parent-adolescent relationship and adolescent internalizing psychopathological symptoms.