This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Mediating Mechanisms: Understanding the Link Between Parenting and Adolescent Deviance




Crosswhite, Jennifer

Type of Degree



Human Development and Family Studies


Coercion theory suggests that a coercion process between parent and child is associated with development of deviance, thus, a direct association is suggested in the parent-deviance link. Coercion theory also has argued that parenting constructs such as discipline, monitoring, problem solving, positive reinforcement, and positive parenting are important to protect against the development of deviant behaviors. While the coercion theory has argued for a direct association, the general theory of crime has argued for an indirect association (i.e., self-control mediates the parent-deviance link). The general theory of crime suggests that parenting constructs such as attachment, supervision, and recognition and punishment of deviance are associated with the development of self-control and, in turn, deviance. Overall, each theory notes the importance of similar parenting constructs, as well as, additional parenting constructs that the other theory does not. Thus, it is unknown, specifically, by which parenting constructs self-control or deviance are developed. Further, limited research has explored whether self-control mediates the relation between parenting and adolescent deviance. The purpose of the present longitudinal investigation was to examine (a) whether and how individual parenting constructs (at age 8-9) from both the coercion theory and the general theory of crime were associated with the development of self-control (at age 12-13) and deviance (at age 16-17), and (b) whether self-control mediated the relation between parenting and deviance. Data were drawn from 736 mother and child participants via questionnaires and observations during three time periods. Child participants were split almost evenly by sex (males: n = 369, females: n = 367). Results from structural equation modeling indicated that an overall parenting construct characterized by parenting variables from both theories was associated with self-control and deviance. Further evidence indicated that parenting and self-control additively explained more variance in the engagement of deviance rather than self-control mediating the link. Finally, results indicated that deviance was best explained when three measures of self-control (i.e., at ages 8-9, 12-13, and 16-17) were added to the model along with effective parenting. Overall, results allude to the importance of examining parenting constructs as described by both the general theory of crime and the coercion theory. Further, while evidence was not found indicating mediation, self-control was found to be important in the explanation of deviance. As such, evidence was provided to support specific tenets of both the general theory of crime and the coercion theory. Future examinations of deviance should include elements from each theory (e.g., parenting constructs and self-control).