Families and Financial Stress in HBFT

Module Sections:

Scope of the Issue

The U. S. economy is undergoing the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression (Moseley, 2009).  Many have lost jobs, health care, and even their homes. These adverse conditions can contribute to anxiety, depression, marital conflict, and adverse effects on children (Ministry, Biesanz, Taylor, Burchinal, & Cox, 2004).

For couples, money has been found to be the most commonly reported argument starter (Storaasli & Markman, 1990). Disagreements over finance have been found to be strongly associated with marital dissatisfaction and psychological distress (Dankin & Wampler, 2008).

For couples, money has been found to be the most commonly reported argument starter (Storaasli & Markman, 1990). Disagreements over finance have been found to be strongly associated with marital dissatisfaction and psychological distress (Dankin & Wampler, 2008). Couples who are dissatisfied with their financial situation often consider their relationship to be a failure.

For those couples with children, financial strain negatively impacts parent/child relationships, parenting practices, and parenting satisfaction (Mistry, Vandewater, Huston & McLoyd, 2002) as well as child and adolescent behavior, academics, and mental, social, and physical development and health (Mistry et al., 2002; Gutman & Eccles, 1999; Duncan, Yeung, & Brooks-Gunn, 1998). Financial hardship has been found to contribute to turmoil in families by increasing stress levels and discord between parents. Children who experience interparental conflict have a higher disposition toward displaying antisocial behaviors. Interparental discord increases the risk that parents are likely to utilize harsh and inconsistent disciplinary strategies and show lower tolerance of child misbehavior (Paat, 2011).

Serious financial problems generally have more to do with the strain of low income than poor financial management skills (Kerkmann et al., 2000). Children from low-income families are at increased risk for academic problems, juvenile delinquency, and teenage pregnancy (Brody et al., 1994) and are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, peer conflict and conduct disorders.

Given the significant impact on families, clinicians who make time for finances in session will find that money is likely a significant contributor to the problems that clients face.