Maternal and Paternal Bonding and Self-Esteem as Predictors of Psychological Distress among Male and Female Adolescents

Angela L. Curcio, Anita S. Mak, Amanda M. George

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


While poor parental bonding has been linked with psychological distress, few studies have assessed bonding with mothers and fathers separately among adolescents and whether there are gender differences in the relationships between bonding and psychological distress. Additionally, low self-esteem has been shown to predict psychological distress, but low self-esteem may develop as a result of poor bonding with parental figures. We explored the relationships between (a) perceived maternal and paternal bonding factors and (b) psychological distress, and examined whether self-esteem mediated these relationships in a non-clinical sample of 337 adolescents (aged 13–17 years, M = 14.17, 50.6% female) in Canberra, Australia. Relative to males, females reported lower levels of self-esteem and higher levels of psychological distress. For females, low self-esteem and perceived maternal or paternal rejection predicted higher levels of psychological distress, whereas low self-esteem predicted psychological distress for males. Implications for future research and further considerations are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-68
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools
Issue number1
Early online date2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


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