Exploring the family origins of adolescent dysfunctional separation-individuation
This study explored the family origins of dysfunctional separation–individuation in adolescents (aged 12 to 15 years old) in a sample of 276 mother–adolescent dyads. We tested the fit of a theoretical model in which mothers’ parenting stress and two types of adolescents’ perceived maternal psychological control (i.e., dependency-oriented and achievement-oriented) were specified as mediators of the relationship between mothers’ marital satisfaction and two types of adolescent dysfunctional separation–individuation (i.e., dysfunctional dependence and dysfunctional independence). Mothers completed measures of marital satisfaction and parenting stress, and adolescents completed measures of perceived maternal psychological control and dysfunctional separation–individuation. Results showed that the association between mothers’ marital satisfaction and adolescents’ dysfunctional dependence was both direct and serially mediated through mothers’ parenting stress and adolescents’ perceived maternal dependency-oriented psychological control. However, the association between mothers’ marital satisfaction and adolescents’ dysfunctional independence was neither direct nor serially mediated through mothers’ parenting stress and adolescents’ perceived maternal achievement-oriented psychological control. In addition, parenting stress was associated with dysfunctional dependence through perceived dependency-oriented psychological control while being associated with dysfunctional independence through perceived achievement-oriented psychological control. Finally, marital satisfaction was associated with both types of psychological control through parenting stress. The limitations and implications of this research were discussed.