Effect of negative work-to-family spillover on adolescent externalizing behavior via parental stress and parental involvement

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Peng, Cheng
Major Professor
Clinton Gudmunson
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Human Development and Family Studies

The current study used structural equation modeling to explore how negative work-to-family spillover affects children’s externalizing behaviors through parental stress and parental involvement. Specifically, by analyzing data from single working mothers, partnered working mothers, and dual-earner couples in the Flourishing Family Project (FFP), the current study want to make a contribution to the current body of research on the role of family structure and parent gender in association within negative work-to-family spillover and children’s externalizing behaviors, as well as explore the mediating pathways between these two constructs.

Overall, results of the current study demonstrated the usefulness of examining the family structure as a moderator of the associations among negative work-to-family spillover, parental stress, parental involvement, and child externalizing behavior. First, findings revealed that family structure matters in understanding the link between negative work-to-family spillover and parental stress. Results indicated that the link between negative work-to-family spillover and parental stress held for single working mothers but not partnered working mothers. Second, findings also revealed that parental stress was indirectly associated with child externalizing behavior through parental involvement for partnered working mothers while not for single working mothers.

In addition, findings of the current study underscore the importance of considering the role of parent gender when studying how work and family interfere with each other. Study results revealed both similarities and differences in this work-family process by gender. First, findings revealed that the link between negative work-to-family spillover and parental stress held up for fathers but not mothers. Second, findings indicated that, regardless of gender, parental involvement could serve as the mechanism through which parental stress affected child externalizing behavior. Furthermore, the current study revealed that fathers and mothers responded to the parental stress of their spouse differently. In particular, when mother’s parental stress was high, the other parent had a significant lower level of involvement in their children’s lives, whereas mother’s parental involvement was not significantly affected by father’s parental stress level.

The findings of the current study provided us a better understanding of underlying processes by which negative work-to-family spillover is associated with children’s externalizing problem behaviors, and how this process may differ depending on family structure and parent gender. Implications, including specific suggestions for practice and recommendations for future research, were also presented.

Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2017