Developmental Processes in African American Families: An Application of McLoyd’s Theoretical Model


Development, Family Studies, and Early Childhood Education, University of North Texas, P.O. Box 310829, Denton, TX 76203 (


In accordance with McLoyd’s model of African American children’s development, we examined the linkages among family income, maternal psychological distress, marital conflict, parenting, and children’s outcomes in early and middle childhood, using a sample of 591 African American children from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Income during early childhood had a direct effect on behavior problems and reading recognition in middle childhood. Income also had an indirect effect on the child outcomes via maternal psychological distress and parenting. In a comparison of African American and White families, marital conflict predicted children behavior problems only in White families. Findings suggest that family psychological and material resources influence parenting as well as behavioral and cognitive outcomes for African American children.