Child and Parent Factors Predictive of Mothers’ and Fathers’ Perceived Family Functioning

Academic Article


  • Understanding family functioning, particularly the risk and protective factors that may contribute to adaptive versus maladaptive family processes, is critical to promote child and family well-being and resilience. Guided by family systems theory and the family stress model, this study longitudinally investigated parents’ and toddlers’ individual-level challenges and parental internal resources as potential predictors of subsequent perceived family functioning (i.e., general family functioning and family conflict), while accounting for earlier couple functioning. First-time mothers’ and fathers’ reports of psychological distress, perceived child behavior problems, intrapersonal resources (i.e., coping, emotion regulation, and empathy), and couple functioning (i.e., relationship satisfaction and intimate partner violence victimization) were assessed when their child was 18 months and 4 years of age. Using autoregressive path models, results suggested that greater maternal distress and paternal perceptions of toddler behavior problems predicted later reports of perceived family dysfunction, whereas parental intrapersonal resources predicted more adaptive perceived family functioning. Overall, findings indicate mutual or bidirectional influence within the family, consistent with the family systems principle of reciprocal causality. Clinical implications are discussed, including the need to bolster parents’ existing strengths as well as providing prevention and early screening of depressive symptoms among parents
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    Author List

  • Pu DF; Rodriguez CM