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The Family Stress Model as it Applies to Custodial Grandfamilies: A Cross Validation

Recently retired Clinical Associate Professor Fred Strieder is co-author of the newly published article "The Family Stress Model as it Applies to Custodial Grandfamilies: A Cross Validation." The article appears in the Journal of Child and Family Studies.

ABSTRACT: There is scant research on how the parenting practices of custodial grandmothers affect the psychological adjustment of grandchildren in their care. Yet, the findings from a handful of prior studies suggest the relevance of the Family Stress Model (FSM) to these caregivers. The present study further tested the FSM with baseline data from 343 custodial grandmothers (Mage = 58.5 years) enrolled in a clinical trial of the efficacy of interventions for improving the well-being of their families. Not only was this “help-seeking” sample atypical of prior FSM studies, but also unique to the present study was our addition of multiple parenting practices, self-reported and clinical ratings of grandmothers’ distress, and reports of grandchildren’s internalizing and externalizing difficulties from grandchildren and grandmothers. Mplus 7.31 was used to test a model where the effect of grandmother distress on grandchildren’s internalizing and externalizing difficulties was hypothesized to be indirect through five distinct parenting practices. The findings regarding both the measurement and structural models fit the observed data well, and invariance was largely found across grandchildren’s gender and age (4–7 vs. 8–12). Although grandchildren’s self-reported internalizing and externalizing difficulties were unrelated to grandmothers’ distress and parenting practices, the grandmothers’ reports of these outcomes were generally related to their own distress and parenting practices as hypothesized. However, considerable variation was found across the five parenting practices in terms of their relationships to the other FSM constructs. We conclude that data from multiple informants and measures of assorted parenting practices are essential to future research and practice.

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