Presentation (Project) Title

The Effect of Parents’ Stress on Child Academic Functioning

Mentor Information

Brian Bunnell (College of Medicine Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences)

Presentation Format

Event

Abstract

Stress helps to elicit goal-oriented action and activate fight or flight responses. However, too much stress can have harmful and impairing effects for the individual experiencing stress (e.g., parents), and those around them (e.g., their children). The research literature suggests an overall positive relation between parents’ stress and their child’s academic achievement, and that this relation is mediated by parent and children’s emotional functioning, and aspects of the overall family environment. However, these relations were examined independently across multiple studies and samples. We examined the relationship between the parents’ stress and their children’s academic performance, along with the mediational roles of parent emotional functioning, child emotional functioning, and the family environment. The sample included 316 caregiver- child dyads who completed clinical assessments of anxiety and depression. Children also completed the Family Environment Scale, which includes the following subscales: Cohesion, Expressiveness, Conflict, Independence, Achievement Orientation, Intellectual-Cultural Orientation, Active-Recreational Orientation, Moral-Religious Emphasis, Organization, and Control. Results indicated that parents’ stress predicted poorer academic achievement in their children, and that this relation was mediated by parent and children’s emotional functioning. However, this relation was not mediated by aspects of the family environment. These findings were inconsistent with the limited existing research in this area and, thus, warrant further study.

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The Effect of Parents’ Stress on Child Academic Functioning

Stress helps to elicit goal-oriented action and activate fight or flight responses. However, too much stress can have harmful and impairing effects for the individual experiencing stress (e.g., parents), and those around them (e.g., their children). The research literature suggests an overall positive relation between parents’ stress and their child’s academic achievement, and that this relation is mediated by parent and children’s emotional functioning, and aspects of the overall family environment. However, these relations were examined independently across multiple studies and samples. We examined the relationship between the parents’ stress and their children’s academic performance, along with the mediational roles of parent emotional functioning, child emotional functioning, and the family environment. The sample included 316 caregiver- child dyads who completed clinical assessments of anxiety and depression. Children also completed the Family Environment Scale, which includes the following subscales: Cohesion, Expressiveness, Conflict, Independence, Achievement Orientation, Intellectual-Cultural Orientation, Active-Recreational Orientation, Moral-Religious Emphasis, Organization, and Control. Results indicated that parents’ stress predicted poorer academic achievement in their children, and that this relation was mediated by parent and children’s emotional functioning. However, this relation was not mediated by aspects of the family environment. These findings were inconsistent with the limited existing research in this area and, thus, warrant further study.