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Simons, Ronald L.; Chao, Wei; Conger, Rand D.; & Elder, Glen H., Jr. (2001). Quality of Parenting as Mediator of the Effect of Childhood Defiance on Adolescent Friendship Choices and Delinquency: A Growth Curve Analysis. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63(1), 63-79.


Social scientists agree that childhood antisocial behavior portends adolescent delinquency, but there is little agreement regarding the theoretical processes that account for this behavioral continuity. Latent growth curve modeling was used to test latent trait and social influence explanations for this association. The analyses used data collected annually over a 4-year period from a sample of 149 boys, 157 girls, and their parents. Contrary to latent trait theories, we found no direct association between oppositional/defiant behavior during childhood and a trajectory of increasing involvement with deviant peers and delinquency during adolescence. Rather, early oppositional/defiant behavior undermined effective parenting practices. The latter, in turn, predicted an increasing affiliation with deviant peers and delinquency during adolescence. Improvements in parenting during adolescence decreased delinquency indirectly by reducing affiliation with deviant peers. Overall, the results support a life course development model in which difficult behavior during childhood increases the probability of adolescent deviant behavior because of its disruptive effect on quality of parenting.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Journal of Marriage and Family


Simons, Ronald L.
Chao, Wei
Conger, Rand D.
Elder, Glen H., Jr.