Applied Psychology OPUS

The Combined Influence of Parenting and Early Puberty on Disruptive Behavior Problems in African American Girls

Hope White

Faculty Mentor | Dr. Shabnam Javdani

Doctoral Student Mentor | Chloe Greenbaum

Adolescent girls’ Disruptive Behavior Problems (DBP) are associated with increased risk for juvenile-justice system involvement and other mental health problems (Zahn et al., 2010). The onset of puberty increases risk for the development of DBP, particularly for girls with early pubertal development in comparison to their on-time or late-developing peers (Burt, McGue, DeMarte, Kreuger, & Iacono, 2006; Caspi, Lynam, Moffitt, & Silva, 1993; Haynie, 2003). The current literature on the relation between early pubertal development and DBP highlights the importance of girls’ interpersonal relationships with parents as mechanisms that may protect against or promote the development of DBP (Ge, Brody, Conger, Simons, & Murry, 2002; Deardorff et al., 2013). However, few studies examine the combined influence of parenting practices and early onset of puberty on DBP within a single model. This study aims to further our understanding of the parenting constructs that accord risk for DBP through a longitudinal study design utilizing a clinical sample of African American adolescent girls and their female caregivers. Specifically, this study examined the relationships among perceived parental monitoring, perceived disapproval, and early pubertal onset on the change in DBP at 1-year follow-up. Results indicate that neither perceived monitoring nor disapproval nor monitoring predicted change in DBP; however, the combined effects of perceived monitoring and pubertal timing confer increased risk for DBP above and beyond each factor alone. Findings highlight the importance of parental monitoring as a protective factor for girls’ DBP and support the development of community-based interventions for early developing girls.