Bidirectional relationships between parenting stress and child behavior problems in multi-stressed, single-mother families: A cross-lagged panel model

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Journal Article

Investigations on the bidirectional relationships between parenting stress and child behavior problems are important to inform intervention strategies; however, prior research has provided inconsistent findings. Using a national sample of multi-stressed single-mother families from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study, the present study examined the bidirectional relationships between maternal parenting stress and children's behavioral problems spanning from early childhood through adolescence at the child's ages 3, 5, 9, and 15. Reciprocal transactions were found between parenting stress and behavior problems in early childhood between the ages 3 and 5. From age 5 to age 15, our findings also suggest that children's behavior problems at an earlier time point predict mothers' parenting stress at a later time point. Unexpectedly, the lagged effects of parenting stress on child behavior problems in school ages were not significant in our sampled data. Early childhood interventions should address mitigating both parenting stress and their toddlers' behavior problems. During middle childhood and adolescence, interventions to directly address children's behavior problems are critical both to the well-being of mothers and to assist in the reduction in levels of behavior problems.

Family Process
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