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

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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Funding

This study was funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research (R01NR012256).

Authors Contributions

G.S. designed and executed the study, conducted the data analyses, and wrote the paper. B.H. co-participated in the design and execution of the study and collaborated in writing the paper. G.H. contributed to, and consulted on, matters regarding statistical analyses. W.H. collaborated in conducting the analyses, interpreting the findings, and in editing the final manuscript. J.M.R. was involved with execution of the study (??). F.S. participated in the design and execution of the study and collaborated in writing the paper.

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Correspondence to Gregory C. Smith.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Kent State University provided the IRB approval for the study.

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Smith, G.C., Hayslip , B., Hancock, G.R. et al. The Family Stress Model as it Applies to Custodial Grandfamilies: A Cross Validation. J Child Fam Stud 27, 505–521 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-017-0896-0

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Keywords

  • Custodial grandmothers
  • Custodial grandchildren
  • Parenting practices
  • Family stress model
  • Psychological adjustment