Bidirectional links and concurrent development of parent-child relationships and boys' offending behavior

Loes Keijsers, Rolf Loeber, Susan J T Branje, Wim H J Meeus

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This study examined different types of longitudinal associations (i.e., directional links and overlapping developmental changes) between children's delinquency and the quality of parent-child relationships from middle childhood to late adolescence. We used 10-wave interview data of 503 boys, their primary caregivers, and their teachers. Our first aim was to unravel the direction of effects between parent-child relationships and children's offending. Cross-lagged panel models revealed bidirectional links over time between poorer quality parent-child relationships and boys' offending across late childhood (age 7-10), early adolescence (age 10-13) and middle adolescence (age 13-16). Second, we examined the associations between mean changes in delinquency, on the one hand, and mean changes in relationship quality, on the other hand. Although parent-child relationships improved during childhood, their quality decreased in early adolescence and remained stable in middle adolescence. Delinquency increased only in middle adolescence. In five out of six models, the slope factors of relationship quality and offending were strongly correlated, indicating that stronger increases in delinquency were associated with stronger decreases in parent-child relationship quality across childhood, early adolescence, and middle adolescence. The discussion focuses on the theoretical implications of these two types of longitudinal associations.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)878-889
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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