Economic Stress and Effective Parenting

Financial trouble can put a serious strain on the mental health of both parents and their children.

The family stress model (FSM) proposes that stress, especially economic stress, impedes effective parenting (Jensen et al., 2022, p. 1). Building on the FSM, Jensen et al. (2022) took a deeper look not only at economic stress but also at general stress and several contexts that might promote stress—particularly, physical health, mental health, social status, occupation status, and marital status. Consistent with the FSM, parental stress often resulted in economic hardship that impedes effective parenting.

Although the FSM has more than enough empirical support, the immense majority of FSM research has closely examined stress in conjunction with the parenting of just one child. Several families, on the other hand, have more than just one child, and a reduction in the quality of parenting when having multiple children is often recognized by larger differences in treatment.

The FSM is a complex model of interpersonal and intrapersonal processes that aims to describe the connection between economic hardship and inadequate parenting. Specifically, financial distress is thought to contribute to the development of parental distress, which promotes inadequate parenting as a result. As identified in the FSM research, when parents are under stress due to challenging economic circumstances, they become busy and have little remaining emotional resources to put into effective parenting (Jensen et al., 2022).

Do you find yourself in a tough financial situation? Do you need assistance gaining control over your stressors? I can help. Send an email to to book your free consultation today.

Or book your intake session today at


Jensen, A. C., Pickett, J. M., Jorgensen-Wells, M. A., Andrus, L. E., Leiter, V. K., & Graver, H. (2022). The family stress model and parents’ differential treatment of siblings: A multilevel meta-analysis. Journal of Family Psychology, 36(6), 851–862.