Skip to main content

Family Stress

  • Reference work entry

Synonyms

Family change or transition

Definition

Family stress is defined as disturbance in the steady state of the family system. The disturbance can emerge from the outside context (e.g., war, unemployment), from inside the family (e.g., death; divorce), or both simultaneously. In any case, the family system’s equilibrium is threatened or disturbed. Family stress is therefore also defined as change in the family’s equilibrium. Such change can be expected (as with the birth of a baby) or unexpected (as with winning a lottery).

While transitions and change are inherently stressful, the impact can be positive or negative. The sources of stress, whether they are volitional or unwanted, clear or ambiguous, predictable or unforeseen, all influence the outcome. And even with unexpected disasters, some families, depending on their coping strategies and resiliency, have the capacity to bend with the pressure and become stronger for it. Family stress then is by itself a neutral construct, but...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD   6,499.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Hardcover Book
USD   8,999.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Learn about institutional subscriptions

References

  • Antonovsky, A., & Sourani, T. (1988). Family sense of coherence and family adaptation. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 50, 79–92.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bonanno, B. A., Papa, A., & O’Neill, K. (2001). Loss and human resilience. Applied and Preventive Psychology, 10(3), 193–206.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bonanno, G. A. (2004). Loss, trauma, and human resilience: Have we underestimated the human capacity to thrive after extremely aversive events? American Psychologist, 59(1), 20–28.

    Google Scholar 

  • Boss, P. (1987). Family stress: Perception and context. In M. Sussman & S. Steinmetz (Eds.), Handbook of marriage and family (pp. 695–723). New York: Plenum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Boss, P. (1988). Family stress management. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Boss, P. (1992). Primacy of perception in family stress theory and measurement. Journal of Family Psychology, 6(2), 113–119.

    Google Scholar 

  • Boss, P. (1999). Ambiguous loss. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Boss, P. (2002). Family stress management. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Boss, P. (2006). Loss, trauma, and resilience. New York: Norton.

    Google Scholar 

  • Boss, P. (2011). Loving someone who has dementia: How to find hope while coping with stress and grief. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    Google Scholar 

  • Boss, P., & Mulligan, C. (2003). Family stress: Classic and contemporary readings. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Burr, W. (1973). Theory construction and the sociology of the family. New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  • Carroll, J. S., Olson, C. D., & Buckmiller, N. (2007). Family boundary ambiguity: A 30-year review of theory, research, and measurement. Family Relations, 56(2), 210–230.

    Google Scholar 

  • Conger, R. D., Rueter, M. A., & Elder, G. H., Jr. (1999). Couple resilience to economic pressure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76(1), 54–71.

    Google Scholar 

  • Easterling, B., & Knox, D. (2010). Left behind: How military wives experience the deployment of their husbands. Journal of Family Life. Retrieved from http://www.journaloffamilylife.org/militarywives.html.

  • Figley, C. (1989). Helping traumatized families. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hill, R. (1949). Families under stress: Adjustment to the crises of war separation and return. Oxford, England: Harper.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hill, R. (1958). Generic features of families under stress. Social Casework, 49, 139–150.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hobfoll, S., & Spielberger, C. (1992). Family stress: Integrating theory and measurement. Journal of Family Psychology, 6, 99–112.

    Google Scholar 

  • Huebner, A. J., Mancini, J. A., Wilcox, R. M., Grass, S. R., & Grass, G. A. (2007). Parental deployment and youth in military families: Exploring uncertainty and ambiguous loss. Family Relations, 56(2), 112–122.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kirmayer, L. J., Boothroyd, L. J., Tanner, A., Adelson, N., & Robinson, E. (2000). Psychological distress among the Cree of James Bay. Transcultural Psychiatry, 37(2), 35–36.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lavee, Y. (2013). Stress processes in families and couples. In G. W. Peterson & K. R. Bush (Eds.), Handbook of marriage and family (pp. 159–176) (3rd ed.), New York, NY: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lavee, Y., McCubbin, H. I., & Patterson, J. M. (1985). The double ABCX model of family stress and adaptation: An empirical test by analysis of structural equations with latent variables. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 47(4), 811–826.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mancini, J. A., & Bowen, G. L. (2013). Families and communities. In G. W. Peterson & K. R. Bush (Eds.), Handbook of marriage and the family (pp. 781–813) (3rd ed.), New York, NY: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  • McCubbin, H. I., & Patterson, J. M. (1983). The family stress process: The double ABCX model of adjustment and adaptation. In H. I. McCubbin, M. B. Sussman, & J. M. Patterson (Eds.), Social stress and the family (pp. 7–38). Binghamton, NY: Haworth.

    Google Scholar 

  • Reiss, D., & Oliveri, M. E. (1991). The family's conception of accountability and competence: A new approach to the conceptualization and assessment of family stress. Family Process, 30, 193–214.

    Google Scholar 

  • Robins, S. (2010). Ambiguous loss in a non-western context: Families of the disappeared in postconflict Nepal. Family Relations, 59, 253–268.

    Google Scholar 

  • Walsh, F. (1998). Strengthening family resilience. New York: Guilford.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Pauline Boss .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

About this entry

Cite this entry

Boss, P. (2014). Family Stress. In: Michalos, A.C. (eds) Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-0753-5_1008

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-0753-5_1008

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Dordrecht

  • Print ISBN: 978-94-007-0752-8

  • Online ISBN: 978-94-007-0753-5

  • eBook Packages: Humanities, Social Sciences and Law

Publish with us

Policies and ethics