There is a hypothesis that low socioeconomic status (SES) may explain the link between cannabis use and poorer academic performance and mental health. A key question, therefore, is whether adolescent cannabis use is associated with poorer academic performance and mental health in high SES communities where there is reduced potential for confounding.
Youth (n = 254) from an upper middle class community were followed prospectively through the four years of high school (from age 14/15 to age 17/18). Past-year frequency of cannabis use was assessed annually. Official school records of academic performance and self-reported mental health symptoms (externalizing and internalizing symptoms) were assessed in grades 9 and 12.
Persistent cannabis use across the four years of high school was associated with lower grade-point average (β = −0.18, p = .006), lower scholastic aptitude test (SAT) score (β = −0.13, p = .038), and greater externalizing symptoms (β = 0.29, p < .001) in 12th grade, but not with greater internalizing symptoms (β = 0.04, p = .53). Moreover, persistent cannabis use was associated with lower grade-point average (β = −0.13, p = .014) and greater externalizing symptoms (β = 0.24, p = .002) in 12th grade, even after controlling for 9th grade levels of these outcomes. Similar associations were observed for persistent alcohol and tobacco use. Effects for persistent cannabis use became non-significant after controlling for persistent alcohol and tobacco use, reflecting the difficulties of disentangling effects of cannabis from effects of alcohol and tobacco.
Low SES cannot fully explain associations between cannabis use and poorer academic performance and mental health.
Cannabis; Adolescent; Longitudinal; Grade-point average; Mental health; SES
The central question we addressed was whether mothers’ adjustment might vary systematically by the developmental stages of their children. In an internet-based study of over 2,200 mostly well-educated mothers with children ranging from infants to adults, we examined multiple aspects of mothers’ personal well-being, parenting, and perceptions of their children. Uniformly, adjustment indices showed curvilinear patterns across children’s developmental stages, with mothers of middle-schoolers faring the most poorly, and mothers of adult children and infants faring the best. Findings based on children in mutually exclusive age groups -- e.g., mothers with only (one or more) infants, preschoolers, etc. -- had larger effect sizes than those based on the age of the mothers’ oldest child. In contrast to the recurrent findings based on children’s developmental stages, mothers’ adjustment dimensions showed few variations by their children’s gender. Collectively, results of this study suggest that there is value in preventive interventions involving mothers not just in their children’s infancy and preschool years, but also as their children traverse the developmentally challenging years surrounding puberty.
Motherhood; developmental stages; middle school; adolescence; affluence; resilience; parenting
Developmental science is replete with studies on the impact of mothers on their children, but little is known about what might best help caregivers to function well themselves. In an initial effort to address this gap, we conducted an internet-based study of over 2,000 mostly well-educated mothers, seeking to illuminate salient risk and protective processes associated with their personal well-being. When women's feelings in the parenting role were considered along with dimensions of personal support as predictors, the latter set explained at least as much variance -- and often much more -- across dimensions of mothers’ personal well-being. Within the latter set of personal support predictors, findings showed that four had particularly robust links with mothers’ personal adjustment: Their feeling unconditionally loved, feeling comforted when in distress, authenticity in relationships, and satisfaction with friendships. Partner satisfaction had some associations with personal adjustment outcomes, but being married in itself had negligible effects. Findings are discussed in terms of implications for future research, and for interventions aimed at fostering resilience among mothers facing high level of stress in their role as parents.
Maternal adjustment; motherhood; parenting stress; social support; resilience
This study extends past findings of heightened problems among affluent youth by examining adjustment patterns among boys in two academically elite, independent high schools: one for boys only and the other coeducational. Both samples manifested disproportionately high rates of internalizing and externalizing symptoms, but only the co-educational boys showed elevations in substance use. Boys in both schools showed elevations in a new outcome domain examined: exhibitionistic narcissism. Multivariate analyses of predictors showed that parent criticism -- a defining feature of youths' maladaptive perfectionism -- and perceived maternal depression emerged as major vulnerability factors for both samples in relation to symptom levels. On other parenting dimensions, boys in the single-sex school seemed to be particularly sensitive to feelings of alienation from their fathers and perceived paternal depression. Envy of peers' attractiveness was associated with adolescent distress in both samples, but appeared to be especially critical for co-educational boys. Results are discussed, focusing on the costs and benefits of boys' attendance at a single-sex versus co-educational school, along with implications for practice and future research.
perfectionism; adolescent boys; affluence; single-sex schools; co-educational schools; depression; substance use; envy
This study involved two academically-gifted samples of 11th and 12th grade youth at the socioeconomic status (SES) extremes; one from an exclusive private, affluent school, and the other from a magnet school with low-income students. Negative and positive adjustment outcomes were examined in relation to multiple dimensions of perfectionism including perceived parental pressures to be perfect, personal perfectionistic self-presentation, and envy of peers. The low-income students showed some areas of relative vulnerability, but when large group differences were found, it was the affluent youth who were at a disadvantage, with substantially higher substance use and peer envy. Affluent girls seemed particularly vulnerable, with pronounced elevations in perfectionistic tendencies, peer envy, as well as body dissatisfaction. Examination of risk and protective processes showed that relationships with mothers were associated with students’ distress as well as positive adjustment. Additionally, findings showed links between (a) envy of peers and multiple outcomes (among high SES girls in particular), (b) dimensions of perfectionism in relation to internalizing symptoms, and (c) high extrinsic versus intrinsic values in relation to externalizing symptoms.
This study examines longitudinally the bidirectional influences between maternal parenting (behaviors and parenting stress) and mothers' perceptions of their children's adjustment, in a multivariate approach. Data was gathered from 361 low-income mothers (many with psychiatric diagnoses) reporting on their parenting behavior, parenting stress and their child's adjustment, in a two-wave longitudinal study over 5 years. Measurement models were developed to derive four broad parenting constructs (Involvement, Control, Rejection, and Stress) and three child adjustment constructs (Internalizing problems, Externalizing problems, and Social competence). After measurement invariance of these constructs was confirmed across relevant groups and over time, both measurement models were integrated in a single crossed-lagged regression analysis of latent constructs. Multiple reciprocal influence were observed between parenting and perceived child adjustment over time: Externalizing and internalizing problems in children were predicted by baseline maternal parenting behaviors, while child social competence was found to reduce parental stress and increase parental involvement and appropriate monitoring. These findings on the motherhood experience are discussed in light of recent research efforts to understand mother-child bi-directional influences, and their potential for practical applications.
Estimation of age-group differences and intra-individual change across distinct developmental periods is often challenged by the use of age-appropriate (but non-parallel) measures. We present a short version of the Behavior Assessment System (Reynolds & Kamphaus, 1998), Parent Rating Scales for Children (PRS-C) and Adolescents (PRS-A), which uses only their common-items to derive estimates of the initial constructs optimized for developmental studies. Measurement invariance of a three-factor model (Externalizing, Internalizing, Adaptive Skills) was tested across age-groups (161 mothers using PRS-C; 200 mothers using PRS-A) and over time (115 mothers using PRS-C at baseline and PRS-A five years later) with the original versus short PRS. Results indicated that the short PRS holds a sufficient level of invariance for a robust estimation of age-group differences and intra-individual change, as compared to the original PRS, which held only weak invariance leading to flawed developmental inferences. Importance of test-content parallelism for developmental studies is discussed.
BASC; parent rating scale; measurement invariance; scale parallelism; developmental change
Using an ecological framework, this 2-wave longitudinal study examined the effects of parentification on youth adjustment across the transition to adolescence in a high-risk, low-income sample of African American (58%) and European American (42%) mother-child dyads (T1 Mage = 10.17 years, T2 Mage = 14.89 years; 52.4% female). Children’s provision of family caregiving was moderately stable from early to late adolescence. Emotional and instrumental parentification evidenced distinct long-term effects on adolescents’ psychopathology and the quality of the parent-child relationship. Ethnicity moderated these relations. Emotional and instrumental parentification behaviors were associated with predominantly negative outcomes among European American youth in the form of increased externalizing behavior problems and decreased parent-child relationship quality, whereas emotional parentification was associated with positive outcomes among African American youth in the form of increased parent-child relationship quality, and instrumental parentification was neutral. These findings support a multidimensional view of parentification as a set of culturally-embedded phenomena whose effects can only be understood in consideration of the context in which they occur.
parentification; parent-child relations; ethnic differences; ecological theory; adolescence; psychopathology
Building upon prior findings of elevated problems among East Coast suburban youth through the 11th grade, this study establishes disproportionately high incidence of maladjustment across three disparate samples: East Coast Suburban youth at the end of their senior year in high school, and 11th and 12th graders in (a) a Northwest suburb and (b) an East Coast city. Both East Coast samples showed pronounced elevations in substance use, whereas the Northwest suburban sample showed marked vulnerability in serious internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Across all samples, parents’ low perceived containment for substance use (lax repercussions on discovering use) was a major vulnerability factor, followed by parents’ knowledge of their teens’ activities. Overall, adolescents’ symptom levels were more strongly related to their relationships with mothers than with fathers. An exception was boys’ apparent vulnerability to fathers’, but not mothers’, perceived depressive symptoms. As with affluent eighth graders, we found that “overscheduling” in extracurriculars is not a critical vulnerability factor among these high school students. Finally, youth reports suggested that most affluent parents do not indiscriminately bail their children out of all problem situations (although a small subset, apparently, do). Results are discussed along with the implications for practice and for future research.
This study was focused on contextual variations in the parenting dimensions salient for preadolescent adjustment. The sample consisted of 614 sixth graders from two communities, one low and the other high income. Parenting dimensions included those known to be significant in each socioeconomic context: isolation from parents (emotional and physical), and parents’ emphasis on achievements (overall expectations and emphasis on integrity over success). Adjustment outcomes included subjective well-being as well as school competence. Contradicting stereotypes, results showed that on average, very affluent children can perceive their parents as emotionally and physically unavailable to the same degree that youth in serious poverty do. The ramifications for adjustment also seem to be largely similar: Closeness to parents was beneficial for all, just as criticism was deleterious. Even after considering the quality of parent–child relationships, parents’ physical absence (e.g., at dinner) connoted vulnerability for distress and for poor school performance in both groups. The connotations of a few parenting dimensions varied by context and gender; these variations are discussed as are overall implications for future research and practice.
The main objectives of this study were to prospectively examine the relationship between externalizing (substance use and delinquency) and internalizing (depression and anxiety) dimensions and academic achievement (grades and classroom adjustment), as well as continuity over time in these domains, within a sample of wealthy adolescents followed from 10th to 12th grades (n = 256). In both parts of the study, cluster analyses were used to group participants at 10th grade and then group differences were evaluated on adjustment outcomes over time. In Part 1, problem behavior clusters revealed differences on academic indices with the two marijuana using groups—marijuana users and multiproblem youth—exhibiting the worst academic outcomes at all three waves. For Part 2, the two lowest achieving groups reported the highest distress across all externalizing dimensions over time. Stability across the three waves was found for both personal and academic competence as well as the associations between these two domains. Results are discussed in relation to intervention efforts targeting wealthy students at risk.
This study builds upon prior findings of elevated substance use among suburban high school students, examining the ramifications of different parenting dimensions on substance use and related behaviors. The sample consisted of 258 11th graders in an affluent suburban community. Parenting predictors considered included those well-studied previously such as monitoring and closeness, as well as two newer dimensions: perceived containment (stringency of anticipated reactions in reaction to negative behaviors) and perceived commitment (e.g., helping the child despite other commitments). Outcomes included self-reported substance use, delinquency, and rule breaking, as well as teacher-rated inattentiveness and school grades. Findings showed elevated substance use among these 17-year-olds compared with national norms, especially among girls. Of the parent predictors, significant unique links with multiple outcomes were found for parents' knowledge of their children's activities and perceived parental containment (stringent repercussions) in reaction to the children's substance use. Notably, students reported that their parents were much more tolerant of their substance use than of other problem behaviors such as rudeness to adults and minor acts of delinquency. Results are discussed along with the implications for practice and research.
The central question addressed in this study was whether upper class, suburban teenagers can engage in various problem behaviors and still maintain adequate academic grades, because of environmental safety nets, unlike their low-income, inner-city counterparts. Three problem behavior dimensions were assessed among tenth graders, that is, substance use, delinquency, and low school engagement. Academic achievement was assessed in terms of grades across four major subjects. Variable-based analyses indicated unique links with grades for self-reported delinquency and school disengagement in high- and low-income samples, but for substance use only among the former. Person-based analyses showed that in both schools, grades were clearly compromised among youth with disturbances in all three problem domains. In addition, in the suburban school only, grades were low in the cluster characterized chiefly by high substance use. Results are discussed in terms of stereotypes regarding risks (or lack thereof) stemming from families' socioeconomic status; implications for theory and interventions are also considered.
This investigation examined process-level pathways to nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI; e.g., self-cutting, -burning, -hitting) in 2 cohorts of suburban, upper-middle-class youths: a cross-sectional sample of 9th–12th graders (n = 1,036, 51.9% girls) on the West Coast and a longitudinal sample followed annually from the 6th through 12th grades (n = 245, 53.1% girls) on the East Coast. High rates of NSSI were found in both the cross-sectional (37.2%) and the longitudinal (26.1%) samples. Zero-inflated Poisson regression models estimated process-level pathways from perceived parental criticism to NSSI via youth-reported alienation toward parents. Pathways toward the initiation of NSSI were distinct from those accounting for its frequency. Parental criticism was associated with increased NSSI, and youth alienation toward parents emerged as a relevant process underlying this pathway, particularly for boys. The specificity of these pathways was explored by examining separate trajectories toward delinquent outcomes. The findings illustrate the prominence of NSSI among “privileged” youths, the salience of the caregiving environment in NSSI, the importance of parental alienation in explaining these relations, and the value of incorporating multiple systems in treatment approaches for adolescents who self-injure.
nonsuicidal self-injury; privileged youths; developmental psychopathology; delinquency; zero-inflated Poisson regression models
The 5 articles included in this special section are reviewed in this article. The studies encompassed were all focused on pre- or early adolescents, and samples were generally from inner-city areas, with 1 involving rural youth. Considered collectively, the results point to 3 major conclusions: Many children in America are regularly exposed to violence in communities; such exposure carries risk for psychopathology; and parents and other adults can provide valuable support but are limited in how much they can offset the effects of ongoing violence exposure. Intervention implications are, foremost, that community violence itself must be reduced and, second, that positive relationships with significant adults should be fostered to the degree possible among children living in high-risk, violence-prone communities.
The maintenance of high social competence despite stress was examined in a 6-month prospective study of 138 inner-city ninth-grade students. The purpose was to provide a replication and extension of findings derived from previous cross-sectional research involving a comparable sample of children. Specifically, goals were to examine the extent to which high-stress children with superior functioning on one or more aspects of school-based social competence could evade significant difficulties in (a) other spheres of competence at school and (b) emotional adjustment. Measurements of stress were based on uncontrollable negative life events. Competence was assessed via behavioral indices including school grades, teacher ratings, and peer ratings, and emotional distress was measured via self-reports. Results indicated that high-stress children who showed impressive behavioral competence were highly vulnerable to emotional distress over time. Furthermore, almost 85% of the high-stress children who seemed resilient based on at least one domain of social competence at Time 1 had significant difficulties in one or more domains examined when assessed at both Time 1 and Time 2. Findings are discussed in terms of conceptual and empirical issues in resilience research.
Interactions between intelligence and psychosocial factors were examined in terms of influences on social competence among 144 inner-city ninth-grade students. Psychosocial variables examined included ego development, locus of control, and positive and negative life events. Definitions of social competence were based on peer ratings, teacher ratings, and school grades. Results indicated that, unlike their less intelligent peers, intelligent youngsters showed higher competence levels at high versus low levels of both ego development and internal locus of control. Findings were interpreted in the context of sociocultural influences on academic achievement among disadvantaged adolescents.
Recent advances in research on childhood resilience have yielded valuable insights on protective processes in adjustment. At the same time, however, as with any growing discipline, the rapid accrual of data has led to the identification of additional important questions, many of which are currently inadequately resolved. The focus of this paper is on salient methodological and conceptual issues that merit further scrutiny in research on resilience. The discussion focuses in turn on definitions of competence, measurement of risk, terminology used to describe protective mechanisms, main effect and interaction effect models of resilience, and processes underlying “buffering” or “moderating” effects.
Resilience; social competence; risk
Luthar, Suniya S. Social Competence in the School Setting: Prospective Cross-Domain Associations among Inner-City Teens. Child Development, 1995, 66, 416–429. In this 6-month prospective study of 138 ninth-grade inner-city students, associations among different aspects of school-based social competence were examined. In addition, links between initial emotional adjustment and subsequent social competence at school were explored. Aspects of social competence examined included academic achievement, peer reputation, and teacher-rated classroom behaviors. Emotional adjustment was measured based on self-reported internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Consonant with views positing continuity and coherence of development, high temporal consistency was found within each social competence domain. In addition, superior adjustment in one domain was sometimes associated with subsequent improvements in other spheres as well. Exceptions found to this pattern were that (a) both as an antecedent and as a consequent variable, peer-rated sociability was negatively linked with other indices of school-based functioning, and (b) among girls, high anxiety was related to improved performance at school over the year. Ecological influences in adolescent adjustment are discussed, and implications of the findings for future research are explored.
Factors that allow children to maintain socially competent behaviors despite stress were examined among 144 inner-city ninth-grade students with a mean age of 15.3 years. Stress was operationalized by scores on a negative life events scale, and definitions of social competence were based on peer ratings, teacher ratings, and school grades. Moderator variables examined included intelligence, internal locus of control, social skills, ego development, and positive life events. Following theoretical models by Garmezy and Rutter, distinctions were made between compensatory factors (which are directly related to competence) and protective/vulnerability factors (which interact with stress in influencing competence). Ego development was found to be compensatory against stress. Internality and social skills proved to be protective factors, while intelligence and positive events were involved in vulnerability processes. This study also revealed that children labeled as resilient were significantly more depressed and anxious than were competent children from low stress backgrounds.
The developmental psychopathology literature addressing issues of children's resilience and vulnerability in dealing with life stresses is reviewed. The contribution and methodological limitations of research on stress and competence are examined, theoretical concepts of resilience are discussed, and findings with respect to protective mechanisms, as well as data from longitudinal studies, are presented. Directions for further research are outlined.
We review evidence on a group recently identified as “at risk,” that is, youth in upwardly mobile, upper-middle class community contexts. These youngsters are statistically more likely than normative samples to show serious disturbance across several domains including drug and alcohol use, as well as internalizing and externalizing problems. Extant data on these problems are reviewed with attention to gender-specific patterns, presenting quantitative developmental research findings along with relevant evidence across other disciplines. In considering possible reasons for elevated maladjustment, we appraise multiple pathways, including aspects of family dynamics, peer norms, pressures at schools, and policies in higher education. All of these pathways are considered within the context of broad, exosystemic mores: the pervasive emphasis, in contemporary American culture, on maximizing personal status, and how this can threaten the well-being of individuals and of communities. We then discuss issues that warrant attention in future research. The paper concludes with suggestions for interventions at multiple levels, targeting youth, parents, educators, as well as policymakers, toward reducing pressures and maximizing positive adaptation among “privileged but pressured” youth and their families.
This study explores longitudinally a four-factor structure of pathological personality trait dimensions (PPTDs) to examine both its structural stability and intra-individual changes among PPTDs over time. Personality Disorder (PD) scales of the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III were administered to 361 low-income women with various psychiatric conditions (drug dependence, depression), who were followed in a two-wave study over 5-years. Cross-sectional and longitudinal factor analyses outlined a robust factorial structure of PPTDs, extrinsically invariant over time, representing Negative Emotionality, Introversion, Antagonism and Impulsivity. Despite moderate rank-order stability in the PPTDs, results also indicated substantial intra-individual variability in the degree and direction of change, consistent with trajectories of change in participants’ clinical diagnoses. Results are discussed in light of current debates on the structure and dynamic of pathological personality.
Pathological Personality; Personality Disorders; MCMI; Longitudinal Factor Analysis