Conflict is a common problem among families, and children may be negatively affected by this family dynamic. Some family characteristics may protect children from negative effects, even in the midst of conflict. Though little research has been conducted addressing familial effects of humor, the current longitudinal study examined the moderating effect of humor on the relationship between family conflict and child self regulation. Two hundred ninety six two-parent families from the Seattle area were surveyed and observed as a party of Brigham Young University's Flourishing Family Project. Family conflict and coded humor from an observation task were assessed at time 1 and self regulation in the child was assessed at both time 1 and one year later. Results indicated that (1) family conflict negatively influences child self regulation, (2) that humor between fathers and children is associated with child self regulation, and (3) that humor between fathers and children may buffer the effects of family conflict on a child's self regulation. Humor between mothers and children and between mothers and fathers did not moderate the relationship between family conflict and child self regulation. These results suggest that some forms of family humor may provide families with healthy child outcomes. Limitations and implications for family therapy are discussed.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Family Life; Marriage and Family Therapy



Date Submitted


Document Type





humor, self regulation, family conflict, Flourishing Families, child outcomes, father influence, father role