Skip to main content Accessibility help

Developmental cascade effects of the New Beginnings Program on adolescent adaptation outcomes

  • Darya Bonds McClain (a1), Sharlene A. Wolchik (a1), Emily Winslow (a1), Jenn-Yun Tein (a1), Irwin N. Sandler (a1) and Roger E. Millsap (a1)...


Using data from a 6-year longitudinal follow-up sample of 240 youth who participated in a randomized experimental trial of a preventive intervention for divorced families with children ages 9–12, the current study tested alternative cascading pathways by which the intervention decreased symptoms of internalizing disorders, symptoms of externalizing disorders, substance use, and risky sexual behavior and increased self-esteem and academic performance in mid- to late adolescence (15–19 years old). It was hypothesized that the impact of the program on adolescent adaptation outcomes would be explained by progressive associations between program-induced changes in parenting and youth adaptation outcomes. The results supported a cascading model of program effects in which the program was related to increased mother–child relationship quality that was related to subsequent decreases in child internalizing problems, which then was related to subsequent increases in self-esteem and decreases in symptoms of internalizing disorders in adolescence. The results were also consistent with a model in which the program increased maternal effective discipline that was related to decreased child externalizing problems, which was related to subsequent decreases in symptoms of externalizing disorders, less substance use, and better academic performance in adolescence. There were no significant differences in the model based on level of baseline risk or adolescent gender. These results provide support for a cascading pathways model of child and adolescent development.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Darya Bonds McClain, Prevention Research Center, Psychology North, Suite 205, Arizona State University, P.O. Box 876005, Tempe, AZ 85287-6005; E-mail:


Hide All
Achenbach, T. M. (1991a). Manual for the Child Behavior Checklist/4–18 and 1991 profile. Burlington VT: University of Vermont, Department of Psychology.
Achenbach, T. M. (1991b). Manual for the Youth Self-Report and 1991 profile. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Department of Psychiatry.
Achenbach, T. M., & Edelbrock, C. (1983). Manual for the Child Behavior Checklist and Revised Child Behavior Profile. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Department of Psychiatry.
Amato, P. R. (2001). Children of divorce in the 1990s: An update of the Amato and Keith (1991) meta-analysis. Journal of Family Psychology, 15, 355370.
Amato, P. R., & Keith, B. (1991). Parental divorce and the well-being of children: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 110, 2646.
Barnes, H., & Olson, D. H. (1982). Parent–adolescent communication. In Olson, D., McCubbin, H., Barnes, H., Larsen, A., Muxen, M., & Wilson, M. (Eds.), Family inventories (pp. 3349). St. Paul, MN: Family Social Sciences.
Beck, A. T., Rush, A. J., Shaw, B. F., & Emery, G. (1979). Cognitive therapy of depression. New York: Guilford Press.
Benson, M. J., Buehler, C., & Gerard, J. M. (2008). Interparental hostility and early adolescent problem behavior: Spillover via maternal acceptance, harshness, inconsistency, and intrusiveness. Journal of Early Adolescence, 28, 428454.
Burt, K., Obradović, J., Long, J., & Masten, A. (2008). The interplay of social competence and psychopathology over 20 years: Testing transactional and cascade models. Child Development, 79, 359374.
Capaldi, D., & Stoolmiller, M. (1999). Co-occurrence of conduct problems and depressive symptoms in early adolescent boys: III. Prediction to young-adult adjustment. Development and Psychopathology, 11, 5984.
Caron, A., Weiss, B., Harris, V., & Catron, T. (2006). Parenting behavior dimensions and child psychopathology: Specificity, task dependency, and interactive relations. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 35, 3445.
Chang, J. J., Halpern, C. T., & Kaufman, J. S. (2007). Maternal depressive symptoms, father's involvement, and the trajectories of child problem behaviors in a US national sample. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 161, 697703.
Cicchetti, D., & Sroufe, L. A. (2000). The past as prologue to the future: The times, they've been a-changin'. Development and Psychopathology, 12, 255264.
Cohen, P. (1996). Childhood risks for young adult symptoms of personality disorder: Method and substance. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 31, 121148.
Cole, D. A., & Maxwell, S. E. (2003). Testing mediational models with longitudinal data: Questions and tips in the use of structural equation modeling. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 112, 558577.
Cowan, P. A., & Cowan, C. P. (2002). Interventions as tests of family systems theories: Marital and family relationships in children's development and psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology, 14, 731759.
Crick, N. R., & Zahn-Waxler, C. (2003). The development of psychopathology in females and males: Current progress and future challenges. Development and Psychopathology, 15, 719742.
Cummings, E. M., Davies, P. T., & Campbell, S. B. (2000). Developmental psychopathology and family process: Theory, research, and clinical implications. New York: Guilford Press.
Darling, N., & Steinberg, L. (1993). Parenting style as context: An integrative model. Psychological Bulletin, 113, 487496.
Dawson-McClure, S. R., Sandler, I. N., Wolchik, S. A., & Millsap, R. E. (2004). Risk as a moderator of the effects of prevention programs for children from divorced families: A six-year longitudinal study. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 32, 175190.
DeLamater, J., & MacCorquodale, P. (1979). Premarital sexuality: Attitudes, relationships, behaviors. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.
Enders, C. K., & Bandalos, D. L. (2001). The relative performance of full information maximum likelihood estimation for missing data in structural equation models. Structural Equation Modeling, 8, 430457.
Efron, B. (1981). Nonparametric estimates of standard error. Biometrika, 68, 589599.
Epstein, S. (1983). Aggregation and beyond: Some basic issues on the prediction of behavior. Journal of Personality, 51, 360392.
Fan, X., Thompson, B., & Wang, L. (1999). Effects of sample size, estimation methods, and model specification on structural equation modeling fit indexes. Structural Equation Modeling, 6, 5683.
Forgatch, M. S., & DeGarmo, D. S. (1999). An effective prevention program for single mothers. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67, 711724.
Forgatch, M. S., Patterson, G. R., DeGarmo, D. S., & Beldavs, Z. G. (2009). Testing the Oregon delinquency model with 9-year follow-up of the Oregon Divorce Study. Development and Psychopathology, 21, 637660.
Forgatch, M. S., Patterson, G. R., & Skinner, M. L. (1988). A mediational model for the effect of divorce on antisocial behavior in boys. In Hetherington, E. M., & Arasteh, J. D. (Eds.), Impact of divorce, single parenting, and stepparenting on children. (pp. 135154). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Guerney, L. F. (1978). Parenting: A skills training manual. (3rd ed.). State College, PA: Institute of the Development of Emotional and Life Skills.
Harter, S. (1985). Manual for the self-perception profile of children. Unpublished manuscript, University of Denver.
Hetherington, E. M., Bridges, M., & Insabella, G. M. (1998). What matters? What does not? Five perspectives on the association between marital transitions and children's adjustment. American Psychologist, 53, 167184.
Hetherington, E. M., Clingempeel, W. G., Anderson, E. R., Deal, J. E., Stanley Hagan, M., Hollier, E. A., et al. (1992). Coping with marital transitions: A family systems perspective. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 57(2–3, Serial No. 227).
Hightower, A. D., Work, W. C., Cowen, E. L., Lotczewski, B. S., Spinell, A. P., Duare, J. C., et al. (1986). The Teacher–Child Rating Scale: A brief objective measure of elementary children's school problem behaviors and competencies. School Psychology Review, 15, 393409.
Hipwell, A., Keenan, K., Kasza, K., Loeber, R., Stouthamer-Loeber, M., & Bean, T. (2008). Reciprocal influences between girls' conduct problems and depression, and parental punishment and warmth: A six year prospective analysis. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 36, 663677.
Holmbeck, G. N. (1996). A model of family relational transformations during the transition to adolescence: Parent–adolescent conflict and adaptation. In Graber, J. A., Brooks-Gunn, J., & Petersen, A. C. (Eds.), Transitions through adolescence: Interpersonal domains and context (pp. 167199). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Hu, L., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6, 155.
Huebner, A. J., & Howell, L. W. (2003). Examining the relationship between adolescent sexual risk-taking and perceptions of monitoring, communication, and parenting styles. Journal of Adolescent Health, 33, 7178.
Ingoldsby, E. M., Shaw, D. S., Winslow, E., Schonberg, M., Gilliom, M., & Criss, M. (2006). Neighborhood disadvantage, parent–child conflict, neighborhood peer relationships, and early antisocial behavior problem trajectories. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 34, 293309.
Institute of Medicine. (1994). Reducing risks for mental disorders: Frontiers for preventative intervention research. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Jensen, E. S., Boyce, W. T., & Hartnett, S. A. (1983). The Family Routines Inventory: Development and validation. Social Science Medicine, 17, 201211.
Johnson, P. O., & Neyman, J. (1936). Tests of certain linear hypotheses and their application to some educational problems. Statistical Research Memoirs, 1, 5793.
Johnston, L. D., Bachman, J. G., & O'Malley, P. M. (1993). Monitoring the future: Questionnaire responses from the nation's high school seniors. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan, Survey Research Center.
Kaminski, J., Valle, L., Filene, J., & Boyle, C. (2008). A meta-analytic review of components associated with parent training program effectiveness. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 36, 567589.
Kelly, J. B., & Emery, R. E. (2003). Children's adjustment following divorce: Risk and resilience perspectives. Family Relations, 52, 352362.
Kiesner, J. (2002). Depressive symptoms in early adolescence: Their relations with classroom problem behavior and peer status. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 12, 463478.
Kovacs, M., (1981). Rating scales to assess depression in school aged children. Acta Paedopsychiatry, 46, 305315.
Lahey, B., Loeber, R., Burke, J., Rathouz, P., & McBurnett, K. (2002). Waxing and waning in concert: Dynamic comorbidity of conduct disorder with other disruptive and emotional problems over 7 years among clinic-referred boys. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 111, 556567.
Lansford, J. E., Malone, P. S., Castellino, D. R., Dodge, K. A., Pettit, G. S., & Bates, J. E. (2006). Trajectories of internalizing, externalizing, and grades for children who have and have not experienced their parents' divorce or separation. Journal of Family Psychology, 20, 292301.
Lochman, J. E., & van den Steenhoven, A. (2002). Family-based approaches to substance abuse prevention. Journal of Primary Prevention, 23, 49114.
Masten, A. S., Burt, K. B., & Coatsworth, J. D. (2006). Competence and psychopathology in development. In Cicchetti, D., & Cohen, D. J. (Eds.), Developmental psychopathology: Vol 3. Risk, disorder, and adaptation (2nd ed., pp. 696738). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Masten, A. S., Roisman, G. I., Long, J. D., Burt, K. B., Obradovic, J., Riley, J. R., et al. (2005). Developmental cascades: Linking academic achievement and externalizing and internalizing symptoms over 20 years. Developmental Psychology, 41, 733746.
McKee, L., Forehand, R., Rakow, A., Reeslund, K., Roland, E., Hardcastle, E., et al. (2008). Parenting specificity: An examination of the relation between three parenting behaviors and child problem behaviors in the context of a history of caregiver depression. Behavior Modification, 32, 638658.
Meichenbaum, D. (1986). Stress innoculation training. New York: Pergamon Press.
Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (2009). Mplus version 5.21 [Computer software]. Los Angeles: Author.
National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. (2009). Preventing mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders among young people: Progress and possibilities. In O'Connell, M., Boat, T., & Warner, K. (Eds.), Board on Children, Youth, and Families, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
O'Connell, M. E., Boat, T., & Warner, K. E. (2009). Preventing mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders among young people: Progress and possibilities. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
Oregon Social Learning Center. (1991). LIFT Parent Interview. Unpublished manuscript.
Pine, D., Cohen, E., Cohen, P., & Brook, J. (2000). Social phobia and the persistence of conduct problems. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 41, 657665.
Prevention Research Center. (1993). Divorce adjustment project documentation, 1993. Unpublished manuscript, Arizona State University.
Renouf, A. G., & Harter, S. (1990). Low self-worth and anger as components of the depressive experience of young adolescents. Development and Psychopathology, 2, 293310.
Reynolds, C. R., & Paget, K. D. (1981). Factor analysis of the Revised Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale for Blacks, Whites, males, and females with a national normative sample. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 49, 352359.
Reynolds, C. R., & Richard, B. O. (1978). What I think and feel: A revised measure of children's manifest anxiety. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 6, 271280.
Roberts, J., & Gamble, S. (2001). Current mood-state and past depression as predictors of self-esteem and dysfunctional attitudes among adolescents. Personality and Individual Differences, 30, 10231037.
Roeser, R., Eccles, J., & Sameroff, A. (2000). School as a context of early adolescents' academic and social–emotional development: A summary of research findings. Elementary School Journal, 100, 443471.
Rogosa, D. R. (1980). Comparing nonparallel regression lines. Psychological Bulletin, 88, 307321.
Rogosa, D. R. (1981). On the relationship between the Johnson–Neyman region of significance and statistical tests of parallel within-group regressions. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 41, 127134.
Rutter, M., & Sroufe, L. A. (2000). Developmental psychopathology: Concepts and challenges. Development and Psychopathology, 12, 265296.
Sameroff, A. J. (2000). Developmental systems and psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology, 12, 297312.
Sandler, I., Miles, J., Cookston, J. & Braver, S. (2008). Effects of father and mother parenting on children's mental health in high and low conflict divorces. Family Court Review, 46, 282297.
Sandler, I. N., Wolchik, S. W., Winslow, E. B., & Schenck, C. (2006). Prevention as the promotion of healthy parenting following divorce. In Beach, S. R. H., Wamboldt, M. Z., Kaslow, N. J., Heyman, R. E., First, M. B., Underwood, L., et al. (Eds.), Relational processes and DSM-V: Neuroscience, assessment, prevention and intervention (pp. 195211). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
Saylor, C. F., Finch, A. J., Spirito, A., & Bennett, B. (1984). The Children's Depression Inventory: A systematic evaluation of psychometric properties. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 52, 955967.
Schaefer, E. S. (1965). Children's reports of parental behavior: An inventory. Child Development, 36, 413424.
Schafer, J. L., & Graham, J. W. (2002). Missing data: Our view of the state of the art. Psychological Methods, 7, 147177.
Schumacker, R. E., & Lomax, R. G. (1996). A beginner's guide to structural equation modeling. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Scott, K. G., Mason, G. A., & Chapman, D. A. (1999). The use of epidemiological methodology as a means of influencing public policy. Child Development, 70, 12631272.
Shaffer, D., Fisher, P., Lucas, C. P., Dulcan, M. K., & Schwab-Stone, M. E. (2000). NIMH Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children, Version IV (NIMH DISC-IV): Description, differences from previous versions and reliability of some common diagnoses. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 39, 2838.
Soper, A. C., Wolchik, S. A., Tein, J.-Y., & Sandler, I. N. (in press). Mediation of a preventive intervention's six-year effects program effects on health risk behaviors. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.
Stark, K. D. (1990). Childhood depression: School-based intervention. New York: Guilford Press.
Steinberg, L. (2001). We know some things: Parent–adolescent relations in retrospect and prospect. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 11, 119.
Stice, E., Barrera, M., & Chassin, L. (1998). Prospective differential prediction of adolescent alcohol use and problem use: Examining the mechanisms of effect. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 107, 616628.
Taylor, A. B., MacKinnon, D., & Tein, J.-Y. (2008). Test of the three path mediated effect. Organization Research Methods, 11, 241269.
Tein, J., Sandler, I. N., MacKinnon, D. P., & Wolchik, S. A. (2004). How did it work? Who did it work for? Mediation in the context of a moderated prevention effect for children of divorce. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72, 617624.
Teleki, J. K., Powell, J. A., & Dodder, R. A. (1982). Factor analysis of reports of parental behavior by children living in divorced and married families. Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied, 112, 295302.
Turbin, R., Jessor, R., & Costa, F. (2000). Adolescent cigarette smoking: Health-related behavior or normative transgression? Prevention Science, 1, 115124.
Weissberg, R. P., Caplan, M., & Bennetto, L. (1988). The Yale–New Haven Social Problem-Solving Program for Young Adolescents. New Haven, CT: Yale University.
West, S. G., Finch, J. F., & Curran, P. J. (1995). Structural equation models with nonnormal variables: Problems and remedies. In Hoyle, R. H. (Ed.), Structural equation modeling: Concepts, issues, and applications (pp. 5675). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Winslow, E., Bonds, D., Wolchik, S., Sandler, I., & Braver, S. (2009). Predictors of enrollment and retention in a preventive parenting intervention for divorced families. Journal of Primary Prevention, 30, 151172.
Wolchik, S., Sandler, I., Weiss, L., & Winslow, E. (2007). New beginnings: An empirically-based program to help divorced mothers promote resilience in their children. In Briesmeister, J. M. & Schaefer, C. E. (Eds.), Handbook of parent training: Helping parents prevent and solve problem behaviors (3rd ed., pp. 2562). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Wolchik, S. A., Sandler, I. N., Millsap, R. E., & Luecken, L. (2006). Effects of NBP for children of divorce 15 years later. Unpublished manuscript.
Wolchik, S. A., Sandler, I. N., Millsap, R. E., Plummer, B., Greene, S. M., Anderson, E. R., et al. (2002). Six-year follow-up of a randomized, controlled trial of preventive interventions for children of divorce. Journal of the American Medical Association, 28, 18.
Wolchik, S. A., West, S. G., Sandler, I. N., Tein, J., Coatsworth, D., Lengua, L., et al. (2000). An experimental evaluation of theory-based mother and mother–child programs for children of divorce. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68, 843856.
Wolchik, S. A., West, S. G., Westover, S., Sandler, I. N., Martin, A., Lustig, J., et al. (1993). The children of divorce intervention project: Outcome evaluation of an empirically based parenting program. American Journal of Community Psychology, 21, 293331.
Wolchik, S. A., Wilcox, K. L., Tein, J., & Sandler, I. N. (2000). Maternal acceptance and consistency of discipline as buffers of divorce stressors on children's psychological adjustment problems. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 28, 87102.
Yadama, G. N., & Pandey, S. (1995). Effect of sample size on goodness-of-fit indices in structural equation models. Journal of Social Service Research, 20, 4970.
Zhou, Q., Sandler, I. N., Millsap, R. E., Wolchik, S. A., & Dawson-McClure, S. R. (2008). Mother–child relationship quality and effective discipline as mediators of the 6-year effects of the New Beginnings Program for children from divorced families. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76, 579590.


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed