(1) Sample 1: 227 families (111 girls; 92% Caucasian) from a community sample of families with alcoholic and non-alcoholic fathers recruited at 12 months of child age. Multi-method assessments at 12 months, kindergarten, sixth and eighth grade were included. (2) Sample 2: 216 caregiver-child dyads (110 girls; 72% African American), about half exposed to cocaine and other substance in pregnancy and a demographically similar comparison group of non-cocaine users (116 cocaine-exposed, 100 not cocaine-exposed). Multi-method assessments at 1, 36, 48, kindergarten age, and early adolescence (M = 13.6 years) were used in these analyses.
(1) In a path analysis model (χ2(10) = 13.45, n.s., CFI = .99, RMSEA = .04, 95% CI [.00, .09]), father’s non-supportive responses to child emotion in Kindergarten were associated with higher aggression in sixth grade which was subsequently predictive of higher externalizing in eighth grade. Maternal depression at 12 months was predictive of early adolescent aggression. Reduced warmth in Kindergarten was predicted by depression for mothers and alcohol use for fathers. (2) Path analysis models (χ2(18) = 26.06, n.s., CFI = .95, RMSEA = .03, 95% CI [.00, .06]) demonstrated that higher maternal depression and lower warmth at 1 month of child age was associated with non-supportive responses to child emotion at 48 months. Non-supportive responses were then predictive of lower inhibitory control in Kindergarten which was then associated with early adolescent aggression.
Results highlight the importance of parents influence on emotional and behavioral development, particularly through responses to children’s negative emotions. Further, parents’ depression in early developmental periods, especially within the context of parent substance problems, may set the stage for a cascade of risk for aggression in adolescence. Understanding pathways to social-emotional competence is critical to prevention.