Psychological Sciences

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Journal of Adolescence

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Introduction: Adverse parenting is associated with sleep problems in adolescence, including sleep quality, inadequate sleep, and daytime sleepiness. Adolescents who experience sleep problems are at greater risk for developing internalizing and externalizing problems. However, research on the intervening role of sleep in the link between adverse parenting and youth psychopathology remains limited. The present study aimed to examine the indirect effects of adverse parenting on youth internalizing and externalizing psychopathology via sleep problems, and to examine the moderating role of gender in associations between parenting and sleep.

Methods: Participants were 101 low-income youth aged 9–12 (52.5% female; 75.2% African-American) and their primary caregivers. Families were from a non-metropolitan region in the Southeastern United States. Data were collected at two time points (T1; Mage = 10.28, SD = 1.2; T2; Mage = 12.08, SD = 1.2). Adverse parenting was measured at T1, youth-reported sleep problems (inadequacy, disturbance) and daytime sleepiness were assessed at T2, and parent-reported internalizing and externalizing symptoms were measured at T2.

Results: Daytime sleepiness served as an intervening variable in associations between adverse parenting and internalizing and externalizing problems, but sleep problems did not. This indirect association was moderated by gender, such that the association between adverse parenting and daytime sleepiness only emerged as significant for girls.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that daytime-related sleep behaviors may serve as a mechanism through which harsh or neglectful parenting is related to internalizing and externalizing psychopathology in adolescence, particularly for adolescent girls.


sleep problems, daytime sleepiness, adverse parenting, psychopathology, gender



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