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Testing the Support Erosion Hypothesis on Parenting and Problem Behaviors during Adolescence: Evidence from a Cross-Ethnic Comparison Study


This study investigated cross-lagged associations between child effects (i.e., adolescents' internalizing and externalizing behaviors) and parenting behaviors (i.e., parental support and monitoring) during high school (i.e., 9th, 10th, and 11th grades). The focus of this study was to determine whether child effects paths were greater than parent effects path, whether the cross-lagged relationship suggests erosion of parental support and monitoring, and whether ethnic differences are found for these effects. The sample consisted of 2,939 adolescents from a larger longitudinal study who have identified themselves as Chinese (n = 611), Korean (n = 572), Mexican (n = 612), Filipino (n = 355), and European American (n = 789).

A series of cross-lagged simplex models with three time points (i.e., 9th, 10th, and 11th grades) and two constructs (i.e., parental behaviors and adolescents' outcome) using maximum likelihood estimation was used to examine the parent-adolescent relationship. First, a parsimonious model in which the cross-lagged paths for child and parent effects were constrained to be equal was examined for each pairing of parent behaviors and adolescents' outcomes. Second, models in which child effects were unconstrained were used to assess ethnic group differences. A chi-square difference test (Δχ2) between the parsimonious model and the series of unconstrained model determined which model best fit the data. In the base model, parent and child effects were constrained to be equal and then these effects were allowed to vary over time. Ethnic differences in these cross-lagged paths were then examined and reported.

The results of the cross-lagged simplex models provide evidence that child effects paths were greater than parent effects path for three of the four models (i.e., parental support and adolescents' externalizing behaviors, parental monitoring and adolescents' internalizing behaviors, and parental support and adolescents' internalizing behaviors). Two of the four models (i.e., parental support and adolescents' externalizing behaviors, and parental support and internalizing behaviors) provide evidence of support erosion (i.e., child to parent cross-lagged paths are negative and significant), where initial and continued problem behaviors eroded parenting behaviors. This pattern of erosion suggests that only erosion of parental support occurred and not erosion of parental monitoring. Additionally, there was evidence of increased parental monitoring as adolescents displayed initial and continued internalizing behaviors. Ethnic differences for East Asians, Mexican, Filipino, and European Americans are discussed in detail.

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