Associations between family well-being, parenting, and child well-being outcomes from infancy to adolescence

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This thesis focuses on child well-being from a developmental perspective and is conceptualized in terms of how positive outcomes are associated with well-being in families and parents. Results based on representative samples of the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP)-Study are presented in three research papers introduced and discussed by a general Synopsis. The first research paper narrows the focus to parents as the founda-tion of family well-being. The birth of the first child is considered to mark one of the most important transitions in family life. The role of fathers in this situation is if often neglected in the literature. This study explored the relationship between the father’s involvement and life satisfaction changes among cohabitating couples before and after childbirth. Longitudinal data and reports from both parents were analyzed regarding their time spent on housework and childcare. Their life satisfaction was then analyzed with piecewise latent growth models. Fathers’ relative involvement trajectories for housework and childcare (weekly workday hours men spent compared to their partners) were positively correlated. Fathers’ relative involvement was perceived as supportive towards mothers’ childcare when the children were around 6 months old. In families where fathers were more involved, life satisfaction trajectories were much steeper; both parents had elevated levels around birth and returned to their baseline levels compared to families with less-involved fathers. Fathers who were less involved did not increase their life satisfaction at birth and decreased below their baseline levels within the 3rd year post-birth. In the second research paper, child well-being outcomes were opera-tionalized using various age specific indicators related to regulative and socio-emotional competencies across five age groups (Newborns, 2–3, 5–6, 7–8, and 9–10 years). Factor analyses showed that domain specific first order and hierarchical second order factors related to child well-being had a good fit to the data and replicated well across age groups. Also, the factor scores on the children’s physical health status were obtained at each age group using a conceptualization that combined causal-formative indicators (e.g., children’s BMI and retrospective assessments of their physical health) and reflective indicators (maternal subjective evaluations of child’s health). Contextual variables, like family structure, economic stress, child health, and use of external childcare, explained the significant, albeit relatively small, variance in this general well-being indicator as shown using structur-al equation modeling. The overall negative effects of objective economic hardship variables (e.g., poverty, unemployment, low housing conditions) and subjective economic stress (e.g., parental concerns/low satisfaction) on child well-being can be buffered by certain dyadic parent–child interactions and by using external child care. The third paper explored both possible antecedents and possible out-comes of 17-year-old adolescents’ future orientations using structural equa-tion models. Family income levels over two preceding years were positively associated with parents’ subjective well-being and their economic situation; in turn, supportive parenting as perceived by adolescents was associated with parental subjective well-being and predicted adolescents’ internal control orien-tation and their optimistic future career expectations. Additionally, adoles-cents’ future orientations were positively associated with better school grades and their exploration and commitment towards future career/job goals. Fur-thermore, mothers’ and fathers’ subjective well-being was positively and simi-larly associated with their internal control beliefs and optimistic future expec-tations, and these were partly transmitted via parenting to their children. Taken together, these findings add further evidence to the pathway model on developmental outcomes across childhood and adolescence, in which more distal factors of family well-being (i.e., family SES and econom-ic hardship) are associated with parental subjective well-being factors (e.g., economic stress related worries/life satisfaction), as well as with the proxi-mal factors of parenting behaviors and fathers’ involvement. Three sets of findings have implications on what can be most effectively targeted by poli-cy and intervention programs to promote healthy and positive development in families and children. First, concerning child well-being outcomes, the available GSOEP indicators can be used to obtain context sensitive and reliable health and well-being indexes on children’s regulation and socio-emotional competencies. For adolescents, internal control orientations and optimistic future career orientations proved to be a motivational resource for their achievement outcomes. Second, concerning how family well-being and parenting behaviors are associated with these outcomes, several enhancing and buffering mechanisms were identified that go beyond cumulative risk hypotheses in which various family stressors are added together. Third, our results highlight the importance of fathers beyond instrumental involve-ment (e.g., sharing housework) but as a psychological resource for family well-being in two very distinct phases (transition to parenthood/infancy and adolescence).

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150 Psychologie
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developmental psychology, family well-being, child well-being, child indicators, measurement, SES, parenting, future orientation, fathers, father involvement, life satisfaction
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ISO 690AGACHE, Alexandru, 2017. Associations between family well-being, parenting, and child well-being outcomes from infancy to adolescence [Dissertation]. Konstanz: University of Konstanz
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@phdthesis{Agache2017Assoc-41004,
  year={2017},
  title={Associations between family well-being, parenting, and child well-being outcomes from infancy to adolescence},
  author={Agache, Alexandru},
  address={Konstanz},
  school={Universität Konstanz}
}
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Their life satisfaction was then analyzed with piecewise latent growth models. Fathers’ relative involvement trajectories for housework and childcare (weekly workday hours men spent compared to their partners) were positively correlated. Fathers’ relative involvement was perceived as supportive towards mothers’ childcare when the children were around 6 months old. In families where fathers were more involved, life satisfaction trajectories were much steeper; both parents had elevated levels around birth and returned to their baseline levels compared to families with less-involved fathers. Fathers who were less involved did not increase their life satisfaction at birth and decreased below their baseline levels within the 3rd year post-birth. In the second research paper, child well-being outcomes were opera-tionalized using various age specific indicators related to regulative and socio-emotional competencies across five age groups (Newborns, 2–3, 5–6, 7–8, and 9–10 years). Factor analyses showed that domain specific first order and hierarchical second order factors related to child well-being had a good fit to the data and replicated well across age groups. Also, the factor scores on the children’s physical health status were obtained at each age group using a conceptualization that combined causal-formative indicators (e.g., children’s BMI and retrospective assessments of their physical health) and reflective indicators (maternal subjective evaluations of child’s health). Contextual variables, like family structure, economic stress, child health, and use of external childcare, explained the significant, albeit relatively small, variance in this general well-being indicator as shown using structur-al equation modeling. The overall negative effects of objective economic hardship variables (e.g., poverty, unemployment, low housing conditions) and subjective economic stress (e.g., parental concerns/low satisfaction) on child well-being can be buffered by certain dyadic parent–child interactions and by using external child care. The third paper explored both possible antecedents and possible out-comes of 17-year-old adolescents’ future orientations using structural equa-tion models. Family income levels over two preceding years were positively associated with parents’ subjective well-being and their economic situation; in turn, supportive parenting as perceived by adolescents was associated with parental subjective well-being and predicted adolescents’ internal control orien-tation and their optimistic future career expectations. Additionally, adoles-cents’ future orientations were positively associated with better school grades and their exploration and commitment towards future career/job goals. Fur-thermore, mothers’ and fathers’ subjective well-being was positively and simi-larly associated with their internal control beliefs and optimistic future expec-tations, and these were partly transmitted via parenting to their children. Taken together, these findings add further evidence to the pathway model on developmental outcomes across childhood and adolescence, in which more distal factors of family well-being (i.e., family SES and econom-ic hardship) are associated with parental subjective well-being factors (e.g., economic stress related worries/life satisfaction), as well as with the proxi-mal factors of parenting behaviors and fathers’ involvement. Three sets of findings have implications on what can be most effectively targeted by poli-cy and intervention programs to promote healthy and positive development in families and children. 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October 25, 2017
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Konstanz, Univ., Diss., 2017
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