Parenting Effects are in the Eye of the Beholder: Parent-Adolescent Differences in Perceptions Affects Adolescent Problem Behaviors

Laura M. Dimler, Misaki N. Natsuaki, Paul D. Hastings, Carolyn Zahn-Waxler, Bonnie Klimes-Dougan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Although it is known that parents and adolescents hold different views regarding adolescent characteristics (e.g., inter-rater agreement on adolescent behaviors between parents and adolescents is low), we know little about parent-adolescent (dis)agreement in their perceptions of parenting. The current study used 220 parent-adolescent dyads (Mage = 13.3 years; 50.5 % female) to address this gap and examined how the discrepancy between parents’ and adolescents’ perceptions of the parent’s negative reactions toward an adolescent’s anger affects the adolescent’s problem behaviors. Results suggested the direction of the disagreement between the two parties is important: when adolescents viewed parenting more negatively than parents did, adolescents showed elevated levels of broadband externalizing behaviors and, specifically, aggressive behaviors. This finding suggests the importance of adolescents’ subjective views of how mothers and fathers react to them. The findings are discussed in terms of methodology in family studies and implications toward future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1076-1088
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study is an archival study that was funded by the Section on Developmental Psychopathology (directed by Carolyn Zahn-Waxler) in the Child Psychiatry Branch of Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Mental Health. The referenced protocol is 1 Z01 MH002775 Adolescence: Anxiety, Mood and Behavior Disorders (referred to elsewhere as The Role of Emotion in the Development of Psychopathology in Adolescence or the Adolescent Emotion Study—Protocol #97-M-0116; PIs Bonnie Klimes-Dougan and Carolyn Zahn-Waxler). We thank the youths and their parents who willingly participated in this investigation. We are indebted to the significant contributions of Barbara Usher and Kimberly Kendziora, as well as the diligent efforts of numerous fellows, interns, research assistants and volunteers who have contributed so much to the implementation of this project. We would also like to extend our gratefulness to Drs. Tuppett Yates, Cecilia Cheung, and Minako Deno for their insightful and valuable feedback on this manuscript. Finally, we have great appreciation for Danielle Samuels’ and Sofia Stepanyan’s continual comments on all versions of the article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Adolescent problem behaviors
  • Anger
  • Discrepancy
  • Inter-rater agreement
  • Perceived parenting


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