Family Functioning and Adolescent Behavior Problems: An Analysis of the National Survey of Families and Households.Report as inadecuate

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This study used data from the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH) to explore the relationship between family functioning and adolescent behavior problems. The data covered five family types: married, two-biological parent families (TP); stepfamilies; divorced/separated female-headed families (DSF); never married female-headed families (NM); and single male headed families. The total sample included over 2,300 households with adolescents between 12 and 18 years. Data were collected through in-person surveys and self-administered questionnaires completed by respondent and spouse. Findings indicated that there was significant variation across family types in the ways in which family functioning measures related to adolescent behavior problems, with measures operating poorly for NM families. The TP families generally scored higher than other types on family strength measures. One-parent families attempted to compensate by reaching out to extended kin, friends, and neighbors, although these activities were not related to reduced adolescent behavior problems. Internal measures of family functioning were more important than external measures of family functioning in predicting adolescent problem behaviors. Marital conflict and depression were very powerful predictors of adolescent behavior problems in two-biological parent families, and marital conflict was a powerful predictor in step-families. Family functioning measures were about equal in predictive power to sociodemographic measures in predicting two of the three behavior problem measures. There were clear differences in the level of reporting by parent. (Seven tables detail findings. An appendix provides definitions of measures. Contains 15 references.) (KB)

Descriptors: Adolescent Behavior, Adolescents, Behavior Problems, Child Behavior, Comparative Analysis, Definitions, Family Environment, Family Influence, Family Structure, Multivariate Analysis, National Surveys, Nuclear Family, One Parent Family, Predictor Variables, Sex Differences, Stepfamily, Test Reliability

Author: Brown, Brett V.


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