Document Type




First Advisor's Name

Gordon E. Finley

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Robert Lickliter

Third Advisor's Name

Mary J. Levitt

Fourth Advisor's Name

Abraham Lavender


Parental Involvement, Peer relationships, Psychosocial functioning

Date of Defense



This study examined peer relationships and psychosocial functioning as a function of maternal and paternal involvement and nurturance along with the moderating effects of gender, family form, and ethnicity. Prior research has shown the influence of mother’s involvement on peer relationship quality but not of fathers. Further, previous studies did not examine moderation by family form, gender, or ethnicity. The sample consisted of 1359 students who identified their biological mother and father as the most influential parental figures in their lives. Their ages ranged from 18 to 26; Sixty–one percent of the sample was Hispanic, 13% non-Hispanic Black, 25% non-Hispanic White; 76% female and 70% from intact families. The analytical strategy included using bivariate correlations and structural equation modeling to examine these relationships.

All dimensions of maternal and paternal nurturing and involvement were positively related to positive characteristics of peer relationships, self-esteem and life satisfaction consistent with the multicultural findings of PARTheory (Rohner, Khalique, & Cournoyer, 2005). A structural model was developed that was able to adequately account for the relationship between parental influence, peer relationships, and psychosocial functioning. These effects of both maternal and paternal influence were strongly moderated by culture, family form, and gender. Finally, a differential effect was found among parental influence with fathers having a greater influence on friendship quality and importance than mothers, despite greater maternal involvement.

These findings have theoretical, clinical, and social implications as they call for a socially based theoretical perspective within which to study these relationships. Such a perspective would better inform clinicians when using impaired social functioning as indicative of axial diagnosis, and for the implementation of social policy to encourage paternal involvement.





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