Parental Monitoring and Adolescent Risk Behaviors: The Moderating Role of Adolescent Internalizing Symptoms and Gender

Research paper by Deyaun L. Villarreal, Jackie A. Nelson

Indexed on: 02 Aug '18Published on: 01 Aug '18Published in: Journal of Child and Family Studies


Parental monitoring can reduce adolescents’ engagement in risky behaviors; however, adolescents’ internalizing symptoms may alter the effectiveness of parental monitoring. The current study examines independent and interactive effects of maternal and paternal monitoring, adolescent’s internalizing symptoms, and adolescent gender on sexual behaviors and substance use with data from 659 of the 15-year-olds enrolled in the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. Results suggest girls who experienced less maternal monitoring and more internalizing symptoms—both independently and interactively—engaged in more risky sexual behaviors. Greater substance use was associated with less maternal and paternal monitoring for girls and boys, more internalizing symptoms for girls, and interactively with less maternal and paternal monitoring depending on girls’ levels of internalizing symptoms. The current study highlights the unique influences of mothers’ and fathers’ monitoring efforts on adolescent risky behavior based on the adolescent’s level of internalizing symptoms.