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11-02-2021 | Original Paper | Uitgave 3/2021

Journal of Child and Family Studies 3/2021

Parental Stress and Child Outcomes: The Mediating Role of Family Conflict

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 3/2021
Auteurs:
Julia H. Jones, Trenton A. Call, Sarah N. Wolford, Lenore M. McWey
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Abstract

Although extant research demonstrates the negative impact of parental stress on child emotional and behavioral problems, the mechanisms through which parental stress influences child outcomes is less known, particularly among families at risk for child maltreatment. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to draw on past research to test the extent to which family conflict mediated the links between parental stress and child outcomes among at-risk families. Researchers conducted a longitudinal multiple regression analyses (N = 314) using data collected from the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN). The children included in the study were 6 years of age at time 1, 12 years of age at time 2, and 14 years of age at time 3. Results indicated positive, significant bivariate associations among parental stress, family conflict and child internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Additionally, partial mediation was established among parental stress, family conflict and child outcomes, suggesting an explanatory link between parental stress and child outcomes and highlighting the systemic nature of such interactions. Findings feature the importance of considering child behavior problems in the context of family functioning and extend the literature to consider the impact of parental stress and family conflict on child internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Clinical intervention implications for mental health professionals include a focus on reducing the impact of parental stress and improving family functioning through management of family conflict to support child outcomes, particularly among families at risk for child maltreatment.

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