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A majority of Americans rate their financial situation as poor or fair, according to the Pew Research Center. Nearly half of Americans admit to having financial problems within the last year. How do these financial problems affect children in those families? A researcher from University of Missouri set out to discover the ways parental mental distress affects relationships with kids. He found that those parents experiencing financial turmoil with depression were less likely to feel connect to their children. Then their children are less likely to engage in community activities and social mindedness.
“The study serves as a reminder that children’s behaviors are affected b issues beyond their immediate surroundings,” said Gutavo Carlo, Millsap Professor of Diversity in the MU Department of Human Development and Family Studies. “Families economic situations are affected by broader factors in our society, and those financial problems can lead to depression that hurts parent-child relationships.
Previous research has confirmed that prosocial behavior in children is dependent upon a strong bond with parents. Prosocial behaviors influence moral development, better outcomes in all kinds of relationships and enhanced performance at work and school. This research however has focused on high-risk and low-income families. For this study, Carlo and his colleagues looked at middle to upper middle class families.
“Even middle class families are having financial difficulties, and it’s affecting their ability to be effective parents,” Carlo explained. “When parents are depressed, it affects their relationships with their kids.”
Depressed parents should seek treatment. And if financial concerns are at the heart of it, there are organizations which will review budget and financial goals to help with those concerns.
“Raising kids is tough as it is,” Carlo said. “When you have the added layers of financial difficulty and depression, it makes raising children even more challenging.”
Source: MedicalNewsToday, University of Missouri
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