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Racial Discrimination as a Moderator of the Links Among Stress, Maternal Psychological Functioning, and Family Relationships

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Abstract

This study focuses on the links between social contexts and normative family patterns to identify factors at the societal, community, family, and individual levels that enhance African Americans' ability to overcome stressful life events and foster positive family relationships. The Mundane Extreme Environmental Stress Model was used to explore these links. From urban and rural areas in Iowa and Georgia, 383 families with 10- or 11-year-old children were recruited. Structural equation modeling was used to test the hypotheses. Maternal psychological distress was linked with parent-child relationship quality both directly and indirectly through its association with intimate partnership quality. When racial discrimination was greater, stronger links emerged between stressor pileup and psychological distress, as well as between psychological distress and the quality of both intimate partnerships and parent-child relationships. Future research on African American family processes should include the effects of racial discrimination.

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