Self-control theory proposes that weak emotional bonds with caregivers are key in the lack of self-control development, that in turn increases the likelihood of externalizing and deviant behaviors. Guided by this theory, the present study tested a mediation model, namely the relationships among adolescent attachment to both parents, self-control, and externalizing behaviors (as measured in aggression and rule-breaking). Moreover, it tested the extent to which this mediation model differed by age, and it compared the relative salience of attachment to mothers versus fathers. Seven hundred and five Chinese adolescents between 13 to 17 years old (353 boys, mean age = 15.02 years) provided self-report data on their attachment to fathers and mothers, self-control, aggression, and rule-breaking behaviors. Mediation model tests showed that attachment to both mothers and fathers were negatively related to aggression and rule-breaking behaviors via self-control. Moderation model tests showed that age moderated the link between attachment to fathers, but not to mothers, and adolescent self-control, with significant effects of attachment on self-control for younger adolescents. Study findings show that although attachment to both mothers and to fathers are important for adolescent self-control, their respective effects differ across developmental periods. Copyright © 2021 The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.
CitationSun, Y., Li, J.-B., Oktaufik, M. P. M., & Vazsonyi, A. T. (2021). Parental attachment and externalizing behaviors among Chinese adolescents: The mediating role of self-control. Journal of Child and Family Studies. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s10826-021-02071-6
- Parent–child attachment
- Deviant behavior
- Adolescent development
- Self-control theory