Considerable evidence documents linkages between parental knowledge of youth activities and youth risky behavior. We extended this research to determine whether parental knowledge was associated with youth physical health, including reports of physical symptoms (e.g., headaches, stomachaches) and a biomarker of hypothalamic pituitary adrenocortical (HPA) axis functioning (i.e., salivary cortisol levels). Participants were children of employees in the Information Technology division of a Fortune 500 company (N = 132, mean age youth = 13.39 years, 55% female) who participated in a daily diary study. Data were collected via telephone calls on 8 consecutive evenings. On 4 study days, cortisol samples were collected at 4 time points (waking, 30 min after waking, before dinner, bedtime). Multilevel models revealed that, at the between-person level, youth whose parents had higher average knowledge about their activities, exhibited lower bedtime cortisol levels. Furthermore, at the within-person level, on days when parents displayed more knowledge than usual (relative to their own 8-day average), youth had lower before-dinner cortisol than usual. Linkages between average parental knowledge and physical health symptoms were moderated by youth age: Younger but not older adolescents whose parents were more knowledgeable had fewer physical health symptoms, on average. A next step is to identify the processes that underlie these associations.
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