All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Christina M Rodriguez

Advisory Committee Members

Robin Ennis

Kristi C Guest

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences


The relations between parental psychological distress and parental resources in the perception and emergence of early childhood externalizing behaviors were investigated in a longitudinal study with a cross-lagged design. Both mothers and fathers participated in a longitudinal study, which began prenatally when parents were in the third trimester of pregnancy, with follow-up assessments when children were 6 months, 18 months, and 4 years of age. Parents reported on their own psychological distress, coping self-efficacy, and social support satisfaction during all four time points, and reported on their child’s externalizing behaviors during the latter two timepoints. Results suggest that mothers’ psychological distress was a predictor of their own perception of child externalizing behaviors, as well as the potentially less biased average score of behaviors. Results indicated a potentially inverse relationship between paternal distress and their perception of child externalizing behaviors, in that paternal distress negatively predicted child externalizing behaviors. Perceived child externalizing behaviors also appeared to influence later paternal characteristics, but not maternal characteristics, wherein child evocative effects of child externalizing behaviors were observed on selfreported paternal psychological distress, social support satisfaction, and coping selfefficacy. These findings demonstrating evidence of both similarities and distinctions between mothers and fathers highlight that fathers provide a distinct and unique view of iii their child. Two moderating effects of maternal resources were also apparent, in which maternal social support satisfaction and coping-self efficacy moderated the association between maternal psychological distress and their perceptions of children’s later externalizing behavior problems. Overall, this study underscores the different relations amongst these variables for mothers and fathers, the intricate processes involved in understanding the emergence of children’s externalizing behavior problems, and the importance of not only examining the impact of parental characteristics but also the role of children, in terms of interactive and evocative effects that may culminate in adverse child outcomes.



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