The Relationships Between Religiosity and Youth Internalizing Symptoms in African American Parent–Adolescent Dyads

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Abstract

Objectives: African American (AA) adolescents face a greater risk of internalizing symptoms, including symptoms of both depression and anxiety, compared with other racial groups; yet, relatively less is known about the variables that contribute to internalizing symptoms. With the aim of advancing this work, this study examined factors that may buffer against such symptoms (maternal warmth, religiosity), as well as those that may confer additional risk (maternal psychopathology). Method: One hundred ninety-three AA single mothers and their adolescent youth reported on religiosity, maternal warmth and depressive symptoms, and youth internalizing symptoms. Dyadic structural equation modeling was used to examine the effects of mother and adolescent religiosity, maternal warmth, maternal depressive symptoms, and adolescent age on youth internalizing symptoms as reported by both the mother and the adolescent. Results: Consistent with hypotheses, maternal depressive symptoms were significantly associated with youth internalizing symptoms (as reported by the adolescent). Further, the impact of maternal religiosity on self-reported youth internalizing symptoms and its subscales was moderated by adolescent age. Specifically, maternal religiosity was associated with fewer self-reported internalizing symptoms in young adolescents, whereas the effect waned in older youth. Conclusions: Possible predictive coprocesses such as maternal influence on adolescent religious choices and identity formation are explored in the context of adolescent internalizing symptomatology.

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