Inadequate parent supervision during the early adolescent years forecasts a host of conduct problems, including illicit alcohol consumption. Early pubertal maturation may exacerbate problems, because girls alienated from same-age peers seek the company of older, more mature youth. The current study examines overtime associations between parent autonomy granting and adolescent alcohol abuse during a developmental period when alcohol consumption becomes increasingly normative, to determine if early maturing girls are at special risk for problems arising from a lack of parent supervision.


At annual intervals for 4 consecutive years, a community sample of 957 Swedish girls completed surveys beginning in the first year of secondary school (approximate age: 13 years) describing rates of alcohol intoxication and perceptions of parent autonomy granting. Participants also reported age at menarche.


Multiple-group parallel process growth curve models revealed that early pubertal maturation exacerbated the risk associated with premature autonomy granting: Alcohol intoxication rates increased 3 times faster for early maturing girls with the greatest autonomy than they did for early maturing girls with the least autonomy. Child-driven effects were also found such that higher initial levels of alcohol abuse predicted greater increases in autonomy granting as parent supervision over children engaged in illicit drinking waned.


Early maturing girls are at elevated risk for physical and psychological adjustment difficulties. The etiology of escalating problems with alcohol can be traced, in part, to a relative absence of parent supervision during a time when peer interactions assume special significance.

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