Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Brian K. Barber

Committee Members

Vey M. Nordquist, John G. Orme, Heidi E. Stolz


Much previous work has demonstrated the importance of parenting for adolescents’ psychosocial functioning. Barber, Stolz, and Olsen’s (2005) recent monograph contributed in organizing and specifying the voluminous literature on parent-child/adolescent literatures by documenting specific paths among three commonly-studied dimensions of parenting (i.e., support, psychological control, and behavioral control) and three salient adolescent outcomes (i.e., social initiative, depression, and antisocial behavior). They did not, however, explore the possible mechanisms that underlie the consistent parenting effects they and others have found.

Theory suggests that the adolescent self would be a logical mediator of the effects of parenting. Further, measures of the self, such as self-esteem, have consistently been linked to various aspects of adolescents’ psychosocial functioning (e.g., particularly depression and antisocial behavior). The relatively limited empirical work that has tested self as a mediator of the relationship between parenting and adolescent outcomes has typically not been conducted multivariately (i.e., with multiple parenting and adolescent outcome variables in the same model) or across time.

Therefore, through a systematic extension of the recent parenting model (Barber et al., 2005), the present study contributes to the literature by theoretically specifying and testing one key mechanism of parenting’s effects on adolescents’ psychosocial functioning. In particular, this study proposed that self-esteem partially mediates the effects of both parental support and parental psychological control on adolescent outcomes, in males and females. The tests of this theoretical extension were conducted with longitudinal data, in order to lend greater support to a causal model. Results indicated that self-derogation (the negative component of global self-esteem) was an appropriate measure of adolescent self. Self-derogation mediated the effect of parental psychological control on adolescent depression and antisocial behavior. In other words, for the youth in this data set, the reason parental psychological control was associated with adolescent problem behaviors one year later was the degree of the youths' self-derogation which resulted from parental psychological control. The effects of parental support and behavioral control were not mediated by self-derogation. Implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.

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