THE ROLE OF MOTHER-CHILD RELATIONSHIP QUALITY IN THE LINK BETWEEN MATERNAL PSYCHOLOGICAL CONTROL AND INTERNALIZED MALADJUSTMENT IN EARLY ADOLESCENCE
Kovacs, Sarrit Michal
Rubin, Kenneth H
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Self-determination and attachment theorists and researchers have recently hypothesized about the role of parent-child relationship quality as a mediator or moderator in the relation between parental psychological control and child and adolescent internalized maladjustment. Thus, the overall purpose of the present study was to empirically investigate the interrelations among maternal psychological control, mother-child relationship quality, and young adolescent internalized maladjustment. Ninety 5th and 6th grade young adolescents and their mothers participated in videotaped shared activities and completed questionnaires in a laboratory visit. The study sample consisted of mostly middle class, well-educated, two-parent families. The following variables were assessed and were of primary importance to the present study: maternal-reported psychological control; observed positivity and negativity in the mother-child relationship; youth-perceived positivity and negativity in the mother-child relationship; youth-perceived attachment security to mother; youth-reported self-esteem; and maternal-reported youth internalizing problems. Both a mediation and moderation model were examined. Simple mediation analysis was conducted in order to examine mother-child relationship quality as a mediator of the relation between maternal psychological control and young adolescent internalized maladjustment. However, no evidence of mediating processes was found. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis was conducted examining mother-child relationship quality as a moderator of the relation between maternal psychological control and young adolescent internalized maladjustment. Results revealed significant maternal psychological control  youth-perceived mother-child relationship quality interaction effects on young adolescent self-esteem and internalizing problems. More specifically, young adolescents who perceived the lowest levels of negativity their relationships also reported higher levels of self-esteem when their mothers reported using low levels of psychological control. In addition, young adolescents who perceived the highest levels of positivity in their relationships had mothers who reported using low levels of psychological control and reported observing lower levels of internalizing problems in their children. Another important finding of the present study was the significant main effect of observed positivity in the mother-child relationship on youth-reported self-esteem. This finding was obtained despite the greater difficulty in obtaining significance when using independent reporters for the constructs of interest.