The present paper examined multiple ways to measure change in maternal knowledge over the transition to adolescence. In addition, we considered the relative contributions of maternal warmth, maternal behavior control, adolescent behavioral competence, and adolescent delinquency to the prediction of knowledge over time. A number of demographic predictors were also examined. Change was assessed using correlations, Structural Equation Modeling, t-tests, Hierarchical Linear Modeling, and Growth Mixture Modeling. Growth Mixture Modeling was also used to examine the possibility of population heterogeneity.
Five years of self-report data were collected from 159 mothers and their adolescents, beginning when the adolescents were in fourth grade. All study variables were assessed at all five time points. The results indicated that there was a high degree of rank-order stability in knowledge but that there was mean change over time. Growth mixture modeling analyses indicated that the data followed a quadratic trend, with three classes of individuals for both mother and adolescent reports. For both mother and adolescent reports we found one large, normative class with moderate declines in knowledge over time, and two smaller classes which exhibited different patterns of change. Maternal warmth, but not behavior control, was a consistent predictor of the knowledge trajectory. Adolescent behavioral competence and adolescent delinquency both consistently predicted knowledge over time. None of the demographic predictors were significant predictors of change in knowledge.
To summarize, the present study identified multiple patterns of change in maternal knowledge, indicating that our sample had underlying population heterogeneity. In addition, we were able to compare the relative contributions of a number of predictors of change in knowledge over time.