Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Development and Family Studies


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Clinton G. Gudmunson


The current study used structural equation modeling to explore the effect of family financial hardship on parental control behaviors, which in turn affect child developmental outcomes. The research focused on two major questions: how family economic stress affects parental control behavior, and why psychological control and behavioral control have different impacts on child outcomes?

Using the data from the Flourishing Families Project, the current study provided findings on the potential antecedents of parental control behaviors with the guidance of the family stress model, where marital conflicts caused by financial hardship explained some of the psychological control behaviors that parents use, but not so much on explaining behavioral control behavior. In addition, parental control behaviors affect child internalizing and externalizing behavior differently through meeting children’s autonomy, competency and relatedness needs. Specifically, significant indirect effects were shown between parental psychological control behaviors to child internalizing and externalizing behaviors through child autonomy; psychological control had a significant indirect positive effect on internalizing behaviors through child competency while behavioral control showed a significant indirect negative effect on internalizing behaviors and no indirect effect was found on externalizing behaviors; and no significant indirect effect was observed from the investigation of relatedness needs.

These findings illustrated the complex nature of parent-child interaction and relationship. Implications, including specific suggestions for practice and recommendations for future research, were also presented.


Copyright Owner

Dong Zhang



File Format


File Size

133 pages