Journal of Youth and Adolescence vol:43 pages:1752-1769
The family stress model proposes that financial stress experienced by parents is associated with problem behavior in adolescents. The present study applied an actor-partner interdependence approach to the family stress model and focused on low-, middle-, and high-income families to broaden our understanding of the pathways by which the financial stress of mothers and fathers are related to adolescent outcomes. The study uses dyadic data (N = 798 heterosexual couples) from the Relationship between Mothers, Fathers and Children study in which two-parent families with an adolescent between 11 and 17 years of age participated. Path-analytic results indicated that in each of the families the association between parents' financial stress and problem behavior in adolescents is mediated through parents' depressive symptoms, interparental conflict, and positive parenting. Family stress processes also appear to operate in different ways for low-, middle-, and high-income families. In addition to a higher absolute level of financial stress in low-income families, financial stress experienced by mothers and fathers in these families had significant direct and indirect effects on problem behavior in adolescents, while in middle- and high-income families only significant indirect effects were found. The financial stress of a low-income mother also had a more detrimental impact on her level of depressive feelings than it had on mothers in middle-income families. Furthermore, the study revealed gender differences in the pathways of mothers and fathers. Implications for research, clinical practice, and policy are also discussed.