Parent-adolescent open communication, interpersonal coping processes, and gender : differential effects on daily hassles and internalizing symptoms in early adolescence
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Adolescents encounter many novel experiences during early adolescence. Over time, early adolescents may feel stressed as they engage in frequent tasks they consider to be hassles, which may increase their risk for poor psychological functioning. Research has established positive links between daily hassles in early adolescence and anxious and depressive symptoms over time. Given the unique developmental changes and important role of parents during early adolescence, it is warranted to consider whether communication influences adolescents' anxious and depressive symptoms in the context of experiencing daily hassles. Accordingly, it is important to further examine how interpersonal coping processes may be communicated within these interactions and its influence on adolescents' psychological symptoms during stressful times. Thus, it was hypothesized that open parent-adolescent communication and co-problem-solving would have negative links to later symptoms, whereas co-rumination would demonstrate positive associations. The moderating influence of these parenting variables and adolescent gender, were subsequently explored. In this study, 400 early adolescents (M age = 12.30; SD = 0.98; 50% female; 55% Caucasian) completed online self-report questionnaires in classrooms at two time points, five months apart. Partial correlations controlling for participants' gender, minority status, and family standard of living determined positive associations between daily hassles and adolescents' depressive symptoms five months later. Both open communication (OC) and co-problem-solving with mothers and fathers, separately, were negatively correlated to later anxious symptoms. Only father-adolescent OC was negatively associated with adolescent depressive symptoms over time. Unexpectedly, co-rumination with fathers, but not mothers, was negatively associated with adolescents' subsequent later anxious symptoms. No significant links were found between co-rumination with either parent and depressive symptoms. To examine the moderating influence of parent-adolescent OC and interpersonal coping processes (i.e., co-problem-solving, co-rumination) on the association between daily hassles and adolescents' later anxious and depressive symptoms, regression analyses with interaction terms included were run separately for each type of parent, communication variable, and symptom outcome. Most interactions were not significant, but mother-adolescent co-rumination was found to moderate the link between daily hassles and anxious symptoms five months later, such that the association strengthened in a negative direction when co-rumination with mothers was low. Adolescent gender was added to regression analyses to explore whether it acted as an additional moderator; however, no significant interactions with gender were supported. Developmental and clinical implications of links between parent-adolescent OC and interpersonal coping processes influencing later adolescent psychological functioning are discussed. Furthermore, implications of low mother-adolescent co-rumination as a protective factor to the development of symptoms during times of stress are explored.