Parental socialization and adolescent offending

Abstract: The overarching aim of this thesis is to extend the existing knowledge on how different aspects of parenting are associated with adolescent problem-related behaviors, such as offending. This relationship is illustrated in the four studies included in this thesis and has been conducted each with its own specific objective. The first study examine gender differences in several dimensions of family-related variables in the explanation of adolescent offending. The findings in the study show that there are clear gendered differences in both levels of the family variables and in the associations between the different family var-iables and offending. The results in this study are not only indicative of real and important differences in the dynamics in patterns of family attachment among boys and girls, they also point to the importance of conducting more nuanced and detailed studies of the different elements of family attach-ments in order to be able to capture the gendered differences that exist. The second study employ a longitudinal design and explore both time-variant and long-term associations of parenting, deviant peer affiliations and substance use among a sample of adolescents aged 12-17, and their par-ents. The main findings in this study show that parents knowing where their children are, what they are doing, and whom they are with, is beneficial in providing protection against involvement with deviant peers, which in turn appear to be important to the development of substance use. These results apply to both time-variant and long-term associations. The results also indi-cate that adolescents vary in susceptibility to social influences by age, and that parenting in early adolescence shape the landscape for involvement with deviant peers and substance use in later adolescence. In addition to more common between-group comparisons, analyses of with-in-person changes was also conducted in the third paper, with the aim to study different aspects of parental monitoring and young people’s moral values in the explanation of why some adolescents are more exposed to criminogenic settings than others. The results showed that adolescents ex-periencing less monitoring and adolescents with poor moral values tend to be more exposed to criminogenic settings. The findings also indicate that a decrease in monitoring over time can explain some of the increase in crimi-nogenic exposure over time. Parental monitoring also showed to be im-portant regardless of the level of a young person’s moral values. Overall, this thus indicate that it is important for parents to maintain high levels of monitoring during adolescence. In the fourth paper, parental knowledge is not only examined as a predictor, but also as an outcome variable in order to increase knowledge of how con-textual factors might shape parenting strategies. The aim of the study is to examine whether there are differences in parental knowledge in relation to level of collective efficacy and disorder in the neighbourhood. Additionally, we will examine how parental knowledge interact with collective efficacy and disorder in the explanation of adolescent offending. Two sources of data were employed to measure the contextual variables – adolescent percep-tions, as well as an independent, aggregated measure. Only the adolescent perceptions of the contextual variables were significantly associated with parental knowledge and offending. The main findings indicate that the per-ceived neighbourhood characteristics are associated with different levels of parental knowledge. Parental knowledge is more important in predicting of-fending than neighbourhood characteristics, however, the existence of an interaction between parental knowledge and perceived collective efficacy was found, indicating that collective efficacy has a different effect on of-fending for adolescents with different levels of parental knowledge. In conclusion, the results presented in the thesis show that parents is a ro-bust predictor of adolescent problem behaviors throughout adolescence, however the parent-child interaction does not seem to be universal. The findings also indicate that it is important to examine multidimensional measures to be able to identify variations and to capture the complexity comprised in the parent-child interaction in general, and in some concepts in particular.