Genetic and Environmental Influences on Parent–Child Conflict and Child Depression Through Late Adolescence

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Few studies have investigated potential gender differences in the genetic and environmental influences on the prospective associations between parent–child conflict and later depression, a notable gap given substantial gender differences in rates of depression and suggestive evidence of differences in the etiology of depression among females and males. To fill this gap, we evaluated whether the prospective relationship between parent–child conflict and major depressive disorder symptoms varied as a function of parent–child gender composition. A combined twin and adoption sample was used (53% female; 85% European ancestry), containing 1,627 adolescent sibling pairs (789 monozygotic twin pairs, 594 dizygotic/full-biological pairs, 244 genetically unrelated pairs) with assessments at two time points in adolescence (approximate ages 15 and 18). Prospective associations between parent–child conflict and subsequent adolescent depression were explained predominately through common genetic influences for mother–daughter and mother–son pairs but less so for father–daughter and father–son pairs. Results support the notion that processes of gene–environment correlation involved in the prospective associations between parent–child conflict, and later adolescent depression appear to be less relevant to father–child relationships in comparison to mother–child relationships. Notably, results did not show that parent–child conflict was more relevant to the etiology of major depressive disorder (MDD) for girls than boys; gender differences in depression do not appear to be due to differences in the associations between parent–child conflict and child depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S5-S20
JournalJournal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
Issue numbersup1
StatePublished - Dec 21 2018


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