April 27, 2011
The current study examined the effects of the timing of parents' relationship instability on adolescent sexual and mental health.
A total of 585 participants were assessed annually from age five through young adulthood as part of a multisite community sample. The timing of parents' relationship instability and whether it was predictive of adolescents' history of sexual partnerships (SP) and major depressive episodes was examined. Multivariate logistic regression analyses controlled for potential mediators related to parenting and the family, including parental knowledge of activities, parent-child relationship quality, number of parents' post-separation relationship transitions, and number of on-hand caregivers.
Participants who experienced parents' relationship instability before age five were more likely to report SP at age 16 (adjusted odds ratio=1.58) or an adolescent episode of major depression (AOR=2.61). Greater parental knowledge at age 12 decreased the likelihood of SP at age 16, "but none of the hypothesized parenting and family variables statistically mediated the association between early instability and SP or major depressive episode," according to the study.
"These results suggest that experiencing parents' relationship instability in early childhood is associated with sexual behavior and major depression in adolescence, but these associations are not explained by the parenting and family variables included in our analyses," the authors concluded.
Journal of Adolescent Health
12.2010; Vol. 47; No. 6: P. 547-554; Kelly L. Donahue, B.A.; Brian M. D'Onofrio, Ph.D.; John E. Bates, Ph.D.; Jennifer E. Lansford, Ph.D.; Kenneth A. Dodge, Ph.D.; Gregory S. Petit, Ph.D.
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