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Parental monitoring and knowledge: Testing bidirectional associations with youths’ antisocial behavior

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 July 2016

Jasmin Wertz
King's College London
Kate Nottingham
King's College London
Jessica Agnew-Blais
King's College London
Timothy Matthews
King's College London
Carmine M. Pariante
King's College London
Terrie E. Moffitt
King's College London Duke University
Louise Arseneault*
King's College London
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Louise Arseneault, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, SGDP Centre, London SE5 8AF, UK; E-mail:


In the present study, we used separate measures of parental monitoring and parental knowledge and compared their associations with youths’ antisocial behavior during preadolescence, between the ages of 10 and 12. Parental monitoring and knowledge were reported by mothers, fathers, and youths taking part in the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study that follows 1,116 families with twins. Information on youths’ antisocial behavior was obtained from mothers as well as teachers. We report two main findings. First, longitudinal cross-lagged models revealed that greater parental monitoring did not predict less antisocial behavior later, once family characteristics were taken into account. Second, greater youth antisocial behavior predicted less parental knowledge later. This effect of youths’ behavior on parents’ knowledge was consistent across mothers’, fathers’, youths’, and teachers’ reports, and robust to controls for family confounders. The association was partially genetically mediated according to a Cholesky decomposition twin model; youths’ genetically influenced antisocial behavior led to a decrease in parents’ knowledge of youths’ activities. These two findings question the assumption that greater parental monitoring can reduce preadolescents’ antisocial behavior. They also indicate that parents’ knowledge of their children's activities is influenced by youths’ behavior.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

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