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A look at how parents’ financial woes affect children’s social behavior

Speaking of tweens, there's an interesting (and sobering) article in The Atlantic today on how parents' money-related depression may affect their middle-school-aged children. It highlights a 2011 study that found:

The more stressed the parents were about money, the more likely they (the parents) were to be depressed. Not a surprising finding. But parental depression also affected the strength of the relationships between the parents and their kids: Parents who experienced more depressive symptoms were less connected to their children -- and this was true based on reports from both the parents and the kids.

But the most revealing connection was one between the intimacy of the parent-child relationships and the "pro-social behavior" of the kids. The children, between the ages of 10 and 14 when the study began, were polled on how they felt about reaching out to friends, family, and strangers. They ranked themselves on statements like "I help others even if it's not easy for me," "I volunteer in programs to help others in need," and "I really enjoy doing small favors for my family." Kids who had less-connected relationships with their parents were less likely to exhibit these pro-social behaviors than kids who enjoyed stronger relationships with their parents.


While earlier studies have looked at the effects of the economy on kids' psyches, they have typically considered only the development of negative behaviors, like substance abuse, mental illness, aggression, and other "problem behaviors." The idea that the economy could, through indirect means, cause a shift or decline in kids' positive social behaviors has not been illustrated until now.


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