A review of research on family economic distress and its association with teen well-being shows a clear need to expand our knowledge about the connections between economic distress and key teen outcomes. Economic distress can act as an unexpected negative shock to the family system and can influence parent relationship quality, functioning, and involvement in children's lives. In turn, changes in systemic quality, functioning, and involvement can impact adolescents positively or negatively. Using observational coding and questionnaire self-report, this study examined the relationship between economic distress and negative marital interaction and the impact this has on parental involvement as a predictor of child school engagement while controlling for gender of the child. A structural equation model analysis was fit to data from 323 two-parent families. The average age of children for the study was 14.31 years of age. Results showed that economic distress is associated with marital relationship interactions, as well as parental involvement, which also impacts school engagement. Therapists should be mindful of and address current economic distress which their clients are experiencing and be aware of the possible associations with all parts of the family system. Possible interventions in the parent-couple system and increasing both mother and father involvement are suggested.



College and Department

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



Date Submitted


Document Type





economic distress, school engagement, marital interaction, parental involvement