Potential barriers to parent monitoring: Social disadvantage, marital status, and maternal psychiatric disorder

Howard D. Chilcoat, Naomi Breslau, James C. Anthony

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Objective: To test whether social disadvantage, marital status, and history of psychiatric disorder might impair mothers' monitoring and supervision of their children. Method: An epidemiological sample of 673 mothers of 8- through 11-year-old children, who had been participants in a longitudinal study of children's development, completed standardized telephone interviews about their monitoring and supervision of children. Indicators of social disadvantage also were collected in the telephone interview, and maternal history of psychiatric disorder had been assessed using the National Institute of Mental Health Diagnostic Interview Schedule, administered when the children were 6 years old. Results: Mothers who were never married were twice as likely to be in the lowest quintile of parent monitoring as those who were married (31% versus 16%, p = .001); a similar distribution was found for mothers who did not complete high school compared with those who attended college (31% versus 15%, respectively, p = .001). Mother's history of substance use disorder, anxiety disorder, or major depression was also linked to lower levels of monitoring. Mothers of girls reported higher levels of monitoring than mothers of boys (p <.001). Conclusions: This study indicates that social disadvantage and maternal psychiatric disorder could have a negative influence on mothers' monitoring behaviors. Although the causal role of these factors is still unclear, interventions that target parenting behaviors should be designed to take them into account.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1673-1682
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1996


  • marital status
  • mothers
  • parent monitoring
  • psychiatric disorder
  • social disadvantage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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