Margaret Stark, University of Rhode Island


Parent-child attachment has been found to be a powerful predictor of children’s social competence later in life (Bowlby, 1989; Weinfield, 1997). Additionally, Swanson et al. (2011) found that negative parenting practices, too, are predictive of adolescent social competence. However, less is known about the impact of positive parenting practices on social competence outcomes. Several studies have identified the importance of social competence as it enables individuals to interact with others in various environments, and serves as a protective factor to engaging in risky behavior, such as substance use (Griffin et al., 2001; Romppanen et al., 2021). The current study examined the roles of parent-child attachment and early parenting practices as predictors of adolescent social competence. The study also examined mother’s report of household income as a mediator between non-violent discipline and adolescent social competence. It is important to examine the role of income as higher income enables parents and families to have higher quality life, which could impact parent-toddler attachment, parenting practices, and, consequently, adolescent social competence. The data for this study came from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), which is a 15-year, 6-wave, ongoing longitudinal study. The sample included 1,841 participants who took part in Wave III and Wave VI of the study. Bivariate analyses showed significant mean differences in adolescent social competence by attachment status, and showed that higher scores of parental non-violent discipline in toddlerhood were associated with higher levels of adolescent social competence. Income, however, did not significantly vary by attachment status, and showed no significant relationship with non-violent discipline and psychological aggression used in early childhood on adolescent social competence, revealing that income was not a mediator. Findings showed a significant direct effect between non-violent discipline and adolescent social competence. Limitations, future directions and implications for professionals are provided.