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01-03-2009 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 3/2009

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 3/2009

The Impact of Parental Stressors on the Intergenerational Transmission of Antisocial Behavior

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 3/2009
Auteurs:
Terence P. Thornberry, Adrienne Freeman-Gallant, Peter J. Lovegrove

Abstract

We examine the extent to which parental antisocial behavior is related to child antisocial behavior and, if it is, the extent to which the effect is mediated by parental stressors and by parenting behaviors. In particular, we examine two sources of stress–depressive symptoms and exposure to negative life events. The study is based on data from the Rochester Intergenerational Study, a prospective multi-generation panel study. The parent sample is 73% male and 27% female and predominantly African American (69%); the child sample consists of each parent’s oldest biological child. We find significant levels of intergenerational continuity in antisocial behavior for mothers and for fathers who live with or supervise their child, but not for fathers who have low levels of contact with their child. Results of structural equation models of mediating pathways are similar for mothers and for supervisory fathers. Of the two stressors we examine, depressive symptoms appears to be the more consistent mediator. It, both directly and indirectly via its impact on parenting behaviors, influences the child’s early onset of antisocial behavior. The results imply that childhood antisocial behavior has deep roots, extending back to the parent’s adolescent development.

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