Access Type

Open Access Embargo

Date of Award

January 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Douglas Barentt


This dissertation aimed to understand how African American parents protect their teens from developing psychopathology in the face of extreme adversity. To do this, I examined three dimensions of parenting behavior, stress exposure, and behavior problems in order to understand the direct and moderating relations between parenting behaviors, cumulative stress and youth internalizing, externalizing, and total psychological problems. 150 African American primary caregivers reported on their adolescent children’s internalizing, externalizing and total behavior problems, exposure to stressful events, and their own parenting behavior. 150 inner-city African American adolescents reported on their exposure to traumatic stressors and a subsample of 43 reported on their primary caregiver’s parenting behavior. Analyses revealed that lifetime stress exposure was not a unique predictor of youth outcomes when the covariate of family income was included in the model. Family income and caregiver-reported parental warmth uniquely predicted variance in adolescent internalizing, externalizing and total behavior problems. Caregiver-reported demandingness and corporal punishment use predicted externalizing symptoms but not internalizing symptoms. Youth reported parental demandingness predicted youth outcomes as well as buffered the effects of stress on youth behavior problems.

This study was also a preliminary step in exploring utility of a newly revised behaviorally-based measure, the Parenting Questionnaire by comparing caregiver and adolescent. Caregiver- and adolescent-reports demonstrated adequate reliability, better than or comparable to other parenting measures. Reports by caregivers and adolescents of parenting behaviors were weakly correlated, suggesting they were related, yet unique. Distinct groups of caregiver-adolescent dyads who were found to report significantly different levels caregiver corporal punishment use were associated with higher levels of youth behavior problems and lower levels of caregiver warmth reported by their children, suggesting concern over differential reporting of physical punishment on youth outcomes and perceptions of their caregivers.

Available for download on Thursday, August 19, 2021