Psychosocial antecedents of variation in girls' pubertal timing: Maternal depression, stepfather presence, and marital and family stress

Bruce J Ellis, Judy Garber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

278 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Drawing on Belsky, Steinberg, and Draper's evolutionary theory of the development of reproductive strategies, we tested a model of individual differences in girls' pubertal timing. This model posits that a history of psychopathology in mothers results in earlier pubertal maturation in daughters, and that this effect is mediated by discordant family relationships and father absence / stepfather presence. The model was supported in a short-term longitudinal study of 87 adolescent girls. In the primary test of the model, it was found that a history of mood disorders in mothers predicted earlier pubertal timing in daughters, and this relation was fully mediated by dyadic stress and biological father absence. In families in which the mother's romantic partner was not the biological father, dyadic stress accounted for almost half of the variation in daughters' pubertal timing. Stepfather presence, rather than biological father absence, best accounted for earlier pubertal maturation in girls living apart from their biological fathers. We propose that stepfather presence and stressful family relationships constitute separate paths to early pubertal maturation in girls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-501
Number of pages17
JournalChild Development
Volume71
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2000
Externally publishedYes

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Fathers
father
Mothers
Depression
Nuclear Family
Family Relations
evolutionary theory
psychopathology
history
Psychopathology
Mood Disorders
Individuality
mood
Longitudinal Studies
longitudinal study
adolescent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Cite this

Psychosocial antecedents of variation in girls' pubertal timing : Maternal depression, stepfather presence, and marital and family stress. / Ellis, Bruce J; Garber, Judy.

In: Child Development, Vol. 71, No. 2, 03.2000, p. 485-501.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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