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Children raised in single-mother families are at increased risk for psychopathology, but the mechanisms that help explain this relationship are understudied. In a community sample of diverse adolescents (N = 385, 52 % female, 48 % Caucasian) and their mothers, we hypothesized that single mothers would be more likely than cohabitating mothers to engage in negative parenting behaviors, which would predict adolescent psychopathology prospectively. Single mothers were more likely to engage in psychologically controlling behaviors, which predicted to their adolescent offspring experiencing higher rates of depressive symptoms and externalizing disorders. Girls were more susceptible to depressive symptoms via psychologically controlling parenting than boys in single-mother families. Further, single mothers were more likely to engage in rejecting parenting behaviors, which predicted to a higher prevalence of adolescent externalizing disorders. Surprisingly, rejection in single-mother families predicted to less severe anxiety symptoms in adolescents relative to two-parent families. It is likely that single mothers are not inherently inferior parents relative to cohabitating mothers; rather, their parenting practices are often compromised by a myriad of demands and stressors. Consistent with this postulate, low socioeconomic status was associated with single motherhood and negative parenting behaviors. Clinical implications and study limitations are discussed.
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- Single Mother Parenting and Adolescent Psychopathology
Jessica L. Hamilton
Lyn Y. Abramson
Lauren B. Alloy
- Springer US