Responsiveness in Parent-Adolescent Relationships: Are Influences Conditional? Does the Reporter Matter?


Human Development and Family Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1430 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706-1575 (


This paper examines conditional and reporter effects of parental responsiveness using survey data from White 8th to 12th graders (N = 440) and their parents (N = 511). Adolescent reports of maternal and paternal responsiveness predicted higher GPAs, fewer delinquent behaviors, and less internal distress. Mothers’ and fathers’ reports of responsiveness were positively associated with adolescent responsibility. Looking within families, the more dissimilar mother and adolescent reports were, the more internal distress daughters reported. Looking across families, mothers’ responsiveness was associated with higher GPAs and fathers’ responsiveness was associated with lower substance use, but only for adolescents who reported less responsiveness than their parents and peers. The findings suggest using a single reporter to describe a relationship property is incomplete.