Academic journal article Family Relations

The Impact of Economic Pressure on Parent Positivity, Parenting, and Adolescent Positivity into Emerging Adulthood

Academic journal article Family Relations

The Impact of Economic Pressure on Parent Positivity, Parenting, and Adolescent Positivity into Emerging Adulthood

Article excerpt

Economic pressure and hardship places families at risk for multiple disadvantages (Conger, Conger, & Martin, 2010). Studies show that children growing up under conditions of economic hardship are at increased risk of behavioral problems (Evans, 2002), a decrease in social competence (Bolger, Patterson, Thompson,

The term resilience often refers to "the ability to withstand and rebound from disruptive life challenges" (Walsh, 2012, p. 399), and thus involves processes that help foster positive adaptation during times of significant adversity (Masten, Cutuli, Herbers, «fe Reed, 2009). In other words, resilience refers to developmental processes rather than intrinsic attributes of individuals. Nonetheless, individual characteristics have been implicated in the process of resilience such as self-regulatory skills, cognitive ability, and achievement motivations (see Masten, 2001 ). The identification of individual-level factors is consistent with early research that focused on those individuals who thrived despite family dysfunction (Walsh, 2012). However, it might be useful to broaden this approach by taking a family systems orientation in which individual characteristics and family resources are viewed as contributors to the processes of resilience. For example, the combination of individual or personal attributes (i.e., self-efficacy, self-worth, and hope) and family attributes (such as supportive, high quality parenting) may lead to positive adaptation to risk (Masten et al., 2009; Walsh, 2012). Indeed, earlier findings from the longitudinal study used for this analyses (Conger & Conger, 2002) have demonstrated evidence of resilience-promoting processes such as self-confidence and effective family problem-solving skills that seem to increase positive adaption to economic adversity.

The positive psychology movement (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000) has renewed interest in optimal functioning and positive psychological outcomes, topics that were often closely identified with humanistic psychology. This movement within psychological science emphasizes that individual qualities and social *interactions can help foster adaptation and resilience (Masten et al., 2009). As it stands, : a number of personal characteristics such as the disposition to approach life with a positive outlook, optimism, self-efficacy, and a general sense of satisfaction with life seem to facilitate instrumental competence. This cluster of related attributes has been called positivity (see Caprara et al., 2012). Conger and Donnellan (2007) extended previous work on the determinants of parenting (e.g., Belsky, 1984) and suggested that personal characteristics might promote positive parenting, even in the face of adverse socioeconomic conditions. This study tests some of those conceptual arguments by integrating positivity into a family process model related to resilience using longitudinal data.

An important conceptual question concerns the mechanism by which positivity should facilitate resilience in the face of economic challenges. One possibility draws on the insights offered by Patterson (2002). According to this perspective, the ability to attribute positive meanings to stressful situations is a key process related to family resilience. That is, how a family successfully copes with adversity is related to subjective characteristics such as a sense of mastery and the evaluation of how difficult a stressful event will be. …

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