Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 8-11-2018


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



School Psychology


School of Education

Committee Chair

Kara E. McGoey

Committee Member

Laura M. Crothers

Committee Member

James B. Schreiber


The impact of parental stress on child behavioral problems has often been examined through research. A large majority of research indicates a strong correlation between parenting stress and an increase in child behavioral difficulties. However, most studies have focused only on the impact that one parent’s stress has on the child’s behavior, rather than both or comparing the two. Using two separate cross-lagged structural equation models, data from the Fragile Families Child and Wellbeing Study (N = 1010) were analyzed to examine the differences between mother and father parenting stress on child externalizing behavior problems over time (ages three and five). Results of the cross-lagged structural equation models provided some support for the hypothesized models, wherein fathers exhibiting high levels of stress did not demonstrate a strong relationship with high levels of externalizing behavior problems in children over time. Additionally, the model supported the hypothesis that parenting stress was the strongest indicator of overall stress for mothers. Findings also suggested insignificant relationships between parenting stress and externalizing behavior problems for almost all paths within both models. Furthermore, insignificant positive relationships between overall stress and externalizing behavior problems over time were identified in both models. The importance of these findings, limitations of the current study, as well as directions for future research are discussed.