Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Pittman, Laura D.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Clinical psychology; Psychology


There is growing evidence that parenting stress maintains a strong influence on child externalizing problems; however this link has not been widely studied with adolescent populations. Adolescence can be a period of transitions and is linked to rising levels of parenting stress and negative adolescent outcomes. Thus, it is important to explore the influence of parenting stress on adolescent externalizing problems with parents of adolescents to inform how to parent adolescents, reduce the risk of adolescent deviant behaviors, and promote a smoother transition into young adulthood. Previous evidence also suggests that parenting stress is linked to parenting behaviors, parenting behaviors are linked to child externalizing problems, and parenting behaviors may mediate the association between parenting stress and externalizing problems. As such, the current study explored the associations between parenting stress, parenting behaviors, and adolescent externalizing problems as well as whether parenting behaviors mediated the link between parenting stress and adolescent externalizing problems. In this study, 333 biological mothers (Mage = 40.15, SDage = 6.86; 75.7% Caucasian) with 12- to 17-year-old adolescents (Mage = 14.17, SDage = 1.82; 52.3% male) were recruited from Amazon's Mechanical Turk and completed an online survey. Hierarchical regression analyses found that higher parenting stress was associated with higher adolescent externalizing problems, even when controlling for cumulative risk, mother and child age, child gender, number of children in household, child disability, and family disability. Higher psychological and lax control and lower acceptance was positively associated with all adolescent externalizing problems, except for a non-significant association between lax control and reactive aggression. Lastly, higher parenting stress was significantly associated with higher psychological and lax control and lower acceptance. Tests of mediation and post-hoc moderation were also conducted. Psychological control and acceptance partially mediated the association between parenting stress and all considered adolescent externalizing problems, while lax control only partially mediated the association between parenting stress and adolescent proactive aggression. Adolescent gender moderated the associations between parenting stress and proactive aggression and lax control and proactive and reactive aggression. Implications for parent-adolescent interactions and families with parenting stress are discussed.


Advisors: Laura D. Pittman.||Committee members: David J. Bridgett; Karen J. White.||Includes illustrations.||Includes bibliographical references.


123 pages




Northern Illinois University

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