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Parenting, identity development, internalizing symptoms, and alcohol use: a cross-sectional study in a group of Italian adolescents

Authors Pellerone M, Tolini G, Polopoli C

Received 20 February 2016

Accepted for publication 10 May 2016

Published 18 July 2016 Volume 2016:12 Pages 1769—1778

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S106791

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Xiang Mou

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder


Monica Pellerone, Giacomo Tolini, Caterina Polopoli

Faculty of Human and Social Sciences, “Kore” University of Enna, Enna, Italy

Background: Literature has demonstrated the adaptive function of identity development and parenting toward manifestation of problem behaviors in adolescence. These dimensions act on both internalizing and externalizing symptoms.
Methods: The objective is to investigate the relationship between identity status, parenting, and adolescent problems, which may manifest through internalized (phobias, obsessions, depression, eating disorders, entropy) and externalized modes (alcohol use and school discomfort). The research involved 198 Italian students (104 males and 94 females) in the 4th year (mean =16.94 years, standard deviation =0.35) and 5th year (mean =17.94 years, standard deviation =0.43) of senior secondary schools, who live in Caltanissetta, a town located in Sicily, Italy. The research lasted for 1 school year. The general group consisted of 225 students with a mortality rate of 12%. They completed an anamnestic questionnaire to provide 1) basic information, 2) alcohol consumption attitude in the past 30 days, and 3) their beliefs about alcohol; the “Ego Identity Process Questionnaire” to investigate identity development; the “Parental Bonding Instrument” to measure the perception of parenting during childhood; and the “Constraints of Mind” to value the presence of internalizing symptoms.
Results: Data show that identity status influences alcohol consumption. Low-profile identity and excessive maternal control affect the relational dependence and the tendency to perfectionism in adolescents. Among the predictors of alcohol use, there are socioeconomic status, parental control, and the presence of internalizing symptoms.
Conclusion: Family is the favored context of learning beliefs, patterns, and values that affect the broader regulatory social environment, and for this reason, it is considered the privileged context on which to intervene to reduce the adolescents’ behavior problems. This deviance could be an external manifestation of the difficulty in management of internalizing symptoms in adolescence.

Keywords: adolescence, parental control, internalizing and externalizing symptoms, constraints of mind, socioeconomic status

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