This study examined the impact of perceived economic hardship on family processes and children's socially withdrawn (reticent) behaviors in Romania. The sample consisted of 121 Romanian mothers and fathers of 4-5 year old children, as well as children's kindergarten teachers. Drawing on Conger and colleagues' family stress model of economic hardship, the associations among mothers' and fathers' ratings of economic hardship, depression, marital conflict, psychologically controlling parenting, and teacher ratings of child social withdrawal were analyzed. Structural equation modeling using AMOS 7.0 was used to test the model. Findings generally support earlier studies with European American families, as well as research with families outside of the U.S. Results indicate that higher perceptions of economic hardship related to increases in marital conflict. Mothers' and fathers' depression also associated positively with marital conflict. Marital conflict related to psychologically controlling parenting and mediated the effects of parents' depression on psychological control. Psychological control, in turn, associated positively with children's socially withdrawn (reticent) behaviors. Multiple group analysis indicated that the models for boys (N = 61) and girls (N = 60) were significantly different. Further analyses indicated that for boys, psychologically controlling parenting did not predict reticence. For girls, only fathers' psychological control predicted reticence. Significant links were additionally found for girls between economic hardship and fathers' depression, and between fathers' depression and psychologically controlling parenting.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Family Life; Marriage, Family, and Human Development



Date Submitted


Document Type





Romania, economic hardship, family functioning, marital conflict, parenting, psychological control, social withdrawal, reticence