Mediating role of self-regulation between parenting, attachment, and adjustment in middle adolescence

Ulaşan Özgüle, Emine Tuna
Adolescence is characterized as the transition period from childhood to adulthood and healthy adjustment invokes internal and external resources. The individual resources consist of the regulatory abilities, which are influenced by emotional family context. Emotional family context includes factors such as parenting, attachment quality to parents, and the level of marital conflict between parents. However, these three research areas have relatively remained separate from each other and the period of adolescence is mostly neglected in longitudinal research. In order to partially fill in this gap, both cross-sectional and longitudinal relationships between proximal family contextual factors, regulatory abilities and psychosocial adjustment of the adolescents were examined by collecting data from first and second grade students of two high schools (N = 426), their teachers (N = 353), and parents (N = 187 for mothers, N = 175 for fathers). In line with the propositions of the Attachment (Bowlby, 1969; 1973) and Self-Determination Theories (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 1985), and the frameworks within marital conflict literature (Davies & Cummings, 1994; Grych & Fincham, 1990), it was anticipated that parental warmth, behavioral control, and secure attachment to both parents would influence regulatory capacities of the adolescents positively, and healthy regulation processes would be related to successful psychosocial adjustment of the adolescents. On the other hand, parental rejection, comparing adolescents with others, psychological control, and marital conflict would predict low levels of regulatory abilities, and in turn, they would be associated with poor psychosocial adjustment. Similarly, the longitudinal effects of marital conflict on parenting and the effects of attachment quality to parents on regulatory development of the adolescents were also examined. Participants completed multiple measures of the major variables in the study. The structural equation modeling (SEM) analyses were used to test the proposed mediated models. The findings of the study mostly supported the direct effects of emotional family context on regulatory abilities of the adolescents, their problem behaviors, and the quality of the relationships with their peers. The results were generally consistent with the previous research in the Western cultures. Positive emotional family context variables were related with the healthy development, whereas negative ones were related with poor developmental outcomes. The results of covariance analyses also showed that attachment strength to parents and the quality of peer relationships were related with healthy regulatory processes of the adolescents. The longitudinal SEM analyses showed that externalization problems of the adolescents, which were associated with the marital conflict between parents, predicted higher levels of negative parenting in the long run. Additionally, secure attachment to parents predicted high levels of positive and low levels of negative parenting, all of which were associated with adolescents’ high levels of positive regulatory capacities. This study contributed to the understanding of the effects of emotional family context on adolescent optimal development through time and showed that for a healthy adjustment, high-quality close relationships both with the family and the peers were required.


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Citation Formats
E. T. Ulaşan Özgüle, “Mediating role of self-regulation between parenting, attachment, and adjustment in middle adolescence,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2011.