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Patterns and predictors of mother-adolescent discrepancies across family constructs.

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Wendy Rote

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Parent–child discrepancies pervade the family literature; they appear in reports of relationship dynamics (e.g., conflict; Laursen et al. 1998), parent and child behaviors (e.g., monitoring; De Los Reyes et al. 2010), and individual family members’ beliefs (e.g., parental legitimate authority; Smetana 2011). Discrepancies are developmentally normative (Steinberg 2001) but also may be indicators of relationship and adjustment problems for teens (Ohannessian 2012). Because of this variation, it is important to consider the extent to which parent–child discrepancies are a function of both the dyad and the family construct considered. The present study contributed to our understanding of informant discrepancies in family relationships by considering the patterning, consistency, and correlates of mother–adolescent discrepancies across three family constructs that vary in their objectivity. Using person-centered analyses, discrepancies in adolescents’ and mothers’ ratings of parents’ right to know about teens’ activities, mothers’ knowledge of them, and positive mother–adolescents relationships were examined in 167 middle class, primarily European American mother–adolescent dyads (M teen age = 15.68 years, SD = .64, 53 % female). Each construct was best described by three profiles, one where adolescents’ standardized ratings were consistently higher than mothers’, one showing the reverse, and one revealing little disagreement. Adolescent-reported problem behavior (but not depression), behavioral and psychological control, and mothers’ wellbeing significantly predicted profile membership. Most dyads maintained consistent membership in a discrepancy profile across at least two family constructs. Results contribute to understanding the different sources of discrepancies in views of the family.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.