Early and Middle Adolescents' Autonomy Development

Impact of Maternal HIV/AIDS

Published in: Clinical child psychology and psychiatry, v. 13, no. 2, Apr. 2008, p. 253-276

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2007

by Debra A. Murphy, Lisa Greenwell, Judith Resell, Mary-Lynn Brecht, Mark A. Schuster

Progression toward autonomy is considered of central importance during the adolescent period. For young adolescents with an HIV-infected parent, there may be additional challenges. This study investigated current autonomy among early and middle adolescents affected by maternal HIV (N = 108), as well as examined longitudinally the children's responsibility taking when they were younger (age 6-11; N = 81) in response to their mother's illness and their current autonomy as early/middle adolescents. In analyses of self-care and family autonomy, children with greater attachment to their mothers had higher autonomy, and there was a trend for children who drink or use drugs alone to have lower autonomy. In analyses of management autonomy, attachment to peers was associated with higher autonomy. Trajectory group findings indicate that those children who had taken on more responsibility for instrumental caretaking roles directly because of their mother's illness showed better autonomy development as early and middle age adolescents. Therefore, `parentification' of young children with a mother with HIV may not negatively affect later autonomy development.

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