Parenting Behaviors During Adolescence and Associations With Emerging Adult Educational Attainment and Mental Health
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Emerging adulthood is described as the life stage spanning from the end of adolescence to the initiation of young adulthood or assuming stable adult roles. This developmental period, typically spanning ages 18-29, is characterized by increased exploration and transitions across domains of work, education, and relationships. Although a large body of research has underscored the importance of positive parenting behaviors in childhood and adolescence, few studies have investigated the role of early parenting behaviors on emerging adult education and mental health outcomes. The proposed study tested for associations between observed indicators of parenting in adolescence and educational attainment, peer support and mental health in emerging adulthood. This study also examined convergent validity between observed and parent reported parenting behaviors. Existing data was utilized from Project Alliance 2, a large-scale family-centered intervention longitudinal trial. Participants (n = 160) were a subsample of 593 adolescents and their caregivers who participated in the Family Check-Up (FCU) and completed study measures in middle school, high school, and emerging adulthood. Results from path analyses revealed direct and significant pathways from observed parent growth support in adolescence to emerging adult mental health and from observed parental monitoring in adolescence to emerging adult peer support. In addition, pro-social peer affiliation in adolescence was significantly associated with emerging adult educational attainment. Parent mental health was significantly and negatively associated with observed parental monitoring and problem solving. No gender differences were observed. This research highlights the importance of parenting on social and emotional outcomes in emerging adulthood and expands upon the parenting and emerging adult literature in several important ways.