Relation between parent psychiatric symptoms and youth problems: Moderation through family structure and youth gender

Jessica L. Schleider*, Bruce F. Chorpita, John R. Weisz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

Links between parents' psychiatric symptoms and their children's behavioral and emotional problems have been widely documented in previous research, and the search for moderators of this association has begun. However, family structure (single versus dual-parent households) has received little attention as a potential moderator, despite indirect evidence that risk may be elevated in single-parent homes. Two other candidate moderators - youth gender and age - have been tested directly, but with inconsistent findings across studies, perhaps in part because studies have differed in whether they used youth clinical samples and in which informants (parents vs. youths) reported on youth problems. In the present study, we examined these three candidate moderators using a sample of exclusively clinic-referred youths (N = 333, 34 % girls, aged 7-14,) and assessing youth problems through both parent- and youth-reports. Both family structure and youth gender emerged as robust moderators across parent and youth informants. Parent symptoms were associated with youth internalizing and externalizing problems in single-parent but not dual-parent homes; and parent symptoms were associated with youth internalizing problems among boys, but not girls. The moderator findings suggest that the risks associated with parent psychopathology may not be uniform but may depend, in part, on family structure and youth gender.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-204
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Volume42
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2014

Keywords

  • Family structure
  • Gender
  • Moderation
  • Parent psychopathology
  • Youth externalizing
  • Youth internalizing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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