Relationships between Maternal Parenting Stress and Reports on Children's Internalizing and Externalizing Problems: A Cross-Lagged Structural Equation Model

Marc Vierhaus, Arnold Lohaus, Anne-Katharina Schmitz, Marlene Schoppmeier


This article presents results of a two-wave panel study with a one-year interval between two time points. The
main aim was to examine the reciprocal relationship between parenting stress and reports on problem behavior
based on cross-lagged structural equation models. At both time points, adolescents (M = 12.51 years on the first
time point) and their mothers reported on internalizing and externalizing problem behavior of the adolescents.
Additionally, mothers reported on their parenting stress. Independent of grade, mothers of boys report more
parenting stress than mothers of girls. Maternal reports on problem behavior are lower than adolescents’
self-reports and both reports are correlated with maternal parenting stress. The results of the cross-lagged model
comparisons indicate a unidirectional relation between parenting stress and proxy-reports/cross-informant
discrepancies regarding adolescent problem behavior: parenting stress appears to be a predictor of proxy
reports/cross-informant discrepancies but not vice versa. The results are discussed in terms of a meaningfulness
of cross-informant discrepancies.

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Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology   ISSN 1927-0526 (Print)   ISSN 1927-0534 (Online)

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